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Are you ready for the Snapchat generation?

Snapchat's parent company, Snap, has made headlines for the better part of the past two weeks since its IPO on March 2. Snap's market value increased by nearly $9 billion on its first day of trading; it's first day pop being bigger than even Facebook's or Google's. Perhaps you're still not sure what all the fuss is about. Here's the skinny:

Snapchat's parent company, Snap, has made headlines for the better part of the past two weeks since its IPO on March 2. Snap's market value increased by nearly $9 billion on its first day of trading; it's first day pop being bigger than even Facebook's or Google's. 

Perhaps you're still not sure what all the fuss is about. Here's the skinny: Snapchat launched in 2011 as a platform to quickly send selfies. Its key advantage was that the 'snaps' disappeared after they were sent. Snap has added more features since then, including lenses that superimpose over the user's snap, and geofilters that overlay brand advertising or the user's location.  So Snapchat is making billions from people posting selfies, but the IPO has drawn attention for several reasons. For example:

  • It's only been in existence for five years. Evan Spiegel, a 26-year-old Stanford University dropout, co-founded the app in 2011.
  • One of Snapchat's trademarks is its confusing design. There's swiping and tapping and no explicit directions on how to do things. The company knows that (and is rumored to have done it on purpose). The user interface is listed as a risk factor in the prospectus.
  • Snap has never turned a profit. As of December 31, it had an accumulated deficit of $1.2 billion. 
  • 98% of Snapchat's revenue comes from advertising. However, there's not a single advertiser that accounts for more than 10% of Snap's revenue.

Today, 158 million people use Snapchat, posting over 2.5 billion snaps (short videos or images) every day. The majority of users are 18-to-34 years old. Users younger than 25 are most active, averaging 20 visits a day and more than 30 minutes a day. Still don't get it? That might be because Snapchat wasn't designed with you in mind. As a 15-year-old stated in a Business Insider interview: "Snapchat is built for digital natives; not for the mobile-first, but the mobile-only generation." In other words, young Millennials might get it, but it's hard core fans are from Gen Z (1996-2009).The bottom line: Snapchat's IPO is a sign of change-changing generations and changing business models. What can your organization learn from the world of snaps? Here are a few tips: 

  • Think fast. Snapchat delivers content in 10 seconds or less.
  • Be yourself. It's not about looking picture perfect or being overly witty, it's about sharing raw content with your friends. And by providing users with different lenses of animal faces or brand-themed filters, they are able to customize their snaps. Younger generations want the same authenticity and customization from the brands they follow.
  • Tell a story. Instead of posting one highlight from your day, Snapchat encourages users to post several, with many users posting from the minute they wake up until the minute they fall asleep. Take for instance Subaru's campaign, #MeetAnOwner, which asked owners to send in short videos of why they love their Subaru and created an entire marketing campaign from these videos. Each owner tells their Subaru story and has their own profile on meetanowner.com, where consumers can follow along with their stories. 
  • See and be seen. Zs aren't into Facebook and Instagram is slowly losing their favor, too. Snapchat is their social media of choice because they like being content creators and they like that Snapchat lets them know who's viewing their snaps.

Think about how your organization manages its employees and markets to clients and consumers--is it ready for the Snapchat generation? Ready or not, here they come.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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