Snapchat started as a small messaging service that allowed you to send pictures to people that lasted a maximum of 10 seconds before being deleted forever. Today it is one of the largest social networks in the world.
So how big is it? Evan Spiegel turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook in 2013, which now looks like a good idea as it is now valued at $19 billion. It also has around 100 million monthly users and there are roughly 400 million snaps sent every day.
This is a huge audience that creates one of the largest social networks in the world. It goes against what many perceptions of a social network are in terms of sharing information or actually knowing something about the person you are communicating with.
Despite this, many companies are taking advantage of this large captive audience, which still has a relatively specific demographic. It is is known that approximately 70% of Snapchat users are female and that around 71% are under 25. This means that although they cannot get the directed targeting that companies like Twitter or Facebook can offer, they can still send to millions of people.
They have also utilized the crowdsourcing elements that Twitter have become so well known for with their hashtags. Although not the same in terms of anybody having the ability to see the tweets sent, they still allow people to upload to specific channels for an event or subjects that are set by Snapchat. This has seen large contributions from things like college football, fashion weeks or the Super Bowl.
In addition to this they have put together elements of content distribution from clients, like the ‘discover’ feature, which has allowed publishers to share their content in a specific area that people can access. The success of this is yet to be seen, but the fact that they are exploring this area shows the kind of ambitions they have in future.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Snapchat though, as their ill-fated money sharing service shows. Their Snapcash idea seemed like a novelty at the time and has not seen much uptake. The same is true of their chat application, which has seen very limited success amongst its users.
Despite these, and the now infamous email leaks from Evan Spiegel following the Sony hacks of 2014, Snapchat is still growing and gaining popularity.
Although it can only be loosely called a social network, perhaps this is what social networks have become, an area where after the initial peak in wanting to share information, people want to have a degree of privacy. Essentially, everybody using Snapchat is part of the same broad community, but you would only know the people directly attached to you.
The success of this model, is the opposite to what many believe Facebook will be doing in the next few years, where there is likely to be a decline amongst the younger audience.
So it may be that Snapchat is the hottest social network of 2015. The question will be whether this is due to the new features or people simply wanting more privacy.