I’ve been spending a bit of time on Snapchat lately. Strange I know . Especially for someone not under 20, but I also read this article which says the number of Snapchatters aged 35+ is growing, so everyone standby for mainstream adoption!
At the same time, I have observed the number of people using Twitter has dropped. Not those hardcore original Twitterers who check Twitter every 3 or 4 minutes they are awake, but the more normal, everyday people who would tweet irregularly just about stuff they saw or thought or read. Of course the place is still crawling with journalists and media (are those two things different?), some celebs and brands, and a smattering of others.
Whereas over on Snapchat it is quite different. It’s mostly people you know – Snapchat has helpfully mined your phone contacts to link you up. Plus there are some famous people, and a few brands. But since there is no discovery or resharing of content on Snapchat, it’s hard to find new people to add – even if you wanted to. So you discover them on other channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…. or even IRL! Brands are a lot quieter too, because there is not much advertising (yet), you don’t get content inserted into snaps as you watch them (yet). You also can’t tell if everyone else is going wild over someone’s Snap Story, because all those engagement metrics (likes, views, comments etc) are completely invisible to the viewer. There’s no algorithm, you just watch whoever you want, or open the snaps you want to. It’s a very organic experience.
The one big drawback with Snapchat is the way it gobbles through your data plan. Some reports say you can churn through gigabytes and gigabytes – what a hog! Read this for some tips on how to stop the data hemorrhaging. It also uses loads of battery power so you’ll find yourself looking around nervously for a powerpoint and charger if you are a regular user. Some tips on how to manage that here.
Surprisingly, YouTubers seem to have embraced Snapchat. While I would have thought that they would keep their vlogging content over on YouTube where they make money from the video views, they seem to be happily snapping away producing a daily vlog every day – admittedly some of which is promoting their other channels. As natural storytellers who are completely comfortable chatting to a phone screen in public, the YouTubers I’ve been watching are taking to Snapchat like it was made for them.
Media will always love Twitter. As the home of breaking news, Twitter is open, easy to search, and content discovery is mostly straightforward for advanced users so I can’t see journalists abandoning Twitter any time soon. But the normal person, you know, the one who bravely tweeted some passing comment… and received no acknowledgement because their two friends weren’t online at the time? Those people have moved into Snapchat, where their photos and videos are seen by people who know them well enough to have their mobile phone numbers saved, and if they happen to be offline then they will see it a bit later on when they check the app. So their snaps are viewed, chats are started and the filters are changed every day so there is always something new and shiny and you don’t feel like you are being snubbed by all the cool people.
Snapchat is where you can post multiple, multiple times per day if you want. In fact the more often you add to your Snap Story, the higher up the Recent Updates list you will be. If you did that on Facebook, you’d be punished either by the algorithm or your friends. If you did that on Instagram, you’d be unfollowed. If you did that on Twitter, no-one would mind at all, but chances are, no-one would hear you either so your ego would develop a healthy dent.
So Snapchat or Twitter? Each is different, and if you have invested time in developing an active community on Twitter then you are probably very happy there. But if you were just an occasional tweeter who has plenty of friends saved to your Contacts, Snapchat might be the one for you… as long as your mobile data plan and battery can stand it!