It could be the fastest growing Internet company yet.
Snapchat is a popular photo messaging app in India, and I use it almost every day to message my friends, colleagues and relatives. It is one of the promising players in the social networking world. Photo-messaging app Snapchat has seen significant growth in India business, and its daily active user base (DAU) in the country has jumped 120 per cent year-on-year in March 2020, a senior company executive said. Speaking to, Snap Inc Managing Director (International Markets) Nana Murugesan said the company has been expanding its team in India, which is focussing on developing culturally relevant products, community engagement, and partnerships. Snap is the parent company of Snapchat. The app allows users to share photos with friends for a specific time period after which the content disappears. It offers filters and lenses, many of which are augmented reality enabled. More than an average of 4 billion Snaps were created by its users each day in March 2020 quarter. It had 229 million daily active users at the end of March 2020 quarter, an increase of 39 million or 20 per cent year-over-year. Snapchat had debuted a re-engineered Android app designed for India and other emerging markets in April last year, along with a localised version of its content discovery platform Discover in November 2018. Over the past year, the app has also added support for nine Indian languages including Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, and Punjabi, among others. Snapchat parent Snap Inc also debuted its augmented reality glasses Spectacles 2 and Spectacles 3 in the India market earlier this month and is currently available on e-commerce marketplace Flipkart.
Overall, Snapchat added 9 million daily active users during the quarter, taking its global base to 238 million in Q2 2020. Snap Inc said that users opened the application over 30 times on a daily basis during the quarter. The messaging service which competes with players like Facebook-owned Instagram, benefitted from a usage bump as people stayed indoors due to the lockdown curbs, although the growth was below its earlier estimates of 239 million users. Revenue rose 17% year-on-year to $454 million while net loss widened to $326 million for the quarter, from $255 million during the same period last year. Andersen, however, noted that the operating environment remains challenging due to the impact of Covid-19 on macroeconomic conditions, and businesses of its advertising clients.
To understand the story of snap-chat’s phenomenal success we must understand the Social Media.
The term Social Media needs no explanation, as we are quite sure that by now everyone, young and old alike, has heard of it, knows of it and is utilising it in some form or another. But for those who do not, “social media is any media or platform that allows one to be social, or get social online by creating/sharing content, news, photos, videos etc. with other people.” Social Media has become an inevitable part of our daily life, and like it or not, it is here to stay. In fact, the number of mentions in social media is quoted nowadays to highlight the importance of the issues and the public support or otherwise to the issue. All organisations/institutions of all types now have a social media presence since they have become aware of the enormous power, reach and potential of this medium. If we separate the two terms: the term “social” refers to interacting with other people and sharing or receiving information, while the term “media” refers to the main means of mass communication, which in the traditional sense includes TV, Radio and Newspapers collectively. But, in the term “social media” the media refers to “web-based” communication tools that are used to enable people to share content or converse with each other.
Thus, “All web-based applications which allow for creation / exchange of user- generated content and enable interaction between the users can be classified as “Social Media”. These could be in the form of Social Networking Sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), Blogs, Internet forums, Bookmarking sites, Online community sites, Q & A sites and Mobile messaging, Chat apps etc.”
Let us understand the changing face of social media and its different eras.
1. The Phreaking Era (1950s–Early ’90s): It may come as a surprise to you when we tell you that the social media evolved from the manipulations of the basic telecommunications systems sometime in the late 1950s. We all have used our cell phones, sometime or the other, to give missed calls in order to get a call back that is free of charge. The more sophisticated approach involves calling a mobile via Skype, which is now a perfectly mainstream, acceptable pursuit. This evolution of the phone from a simple static device to a dynamic force of nature started with the advent of “phreaking”; a slang term coined to describe a culture of people who studied, explored and experimented with telecommunications systems in their spare time. Today, as the telephone networks have become computerised, phreaking has got intricately linked to Computer Hacking. A 7-year-old blind boy, armed with a heightened pitch sensitivity, whistled into a phone at precisely 2600 hertz and accidentally cracked the network’s security code. The boy, Joe Engressia, would later go on to meet John Draper, a Vietnam-vet turned pirate radio operator who built the first phreaking tools, known as “blue boxes”, in the late ’60s. The exploits of Engressia and Draper spread like wildfire through various media sources available then (magazines and newspapers) which caused two tech-obsessed high-school kids to track them down so that they could also learn how to build similar devices. Those kids, namely Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, would later go on to found Apple, which would eventually release the iPhone. These pranksters and hackers were probably the earliest social media explorers who went on to build “boxes” that were homemade electronic devices, which could generate tones allowing them to make free calls and gain access to the backend of the telephone system. In this manner, hacked corporate voice mail systems called Codelines were used to produce the first real “blogs/podcasts”. Comments and information were left as a voice mail using this system and the phreak would respond with the next update.
2. Bulletin Board Systems (BBS’s) – (1979–1995): The first BBS or the electronic Bulletin Board System was developed by Ward Christensen and opened to the public in the year 1979. These bulletin board systems were small servers that were powered by personal computers and attached to a modem, where one person at a time could dial in and get access. The user had to login to perform functions like uploading or downloading software, exchanging messages with others through email or public message boards. These were used as a medium for social discussions on message boards, for community-contributed file downloads and also online games. The early BBS’s had no colours or graphics but with the advent of the MS-DOS 3.0 (ANSI), which was the predecessor to HTML, one could make colours and online artwork.
Usenet conceived by Jim Ellis and Tom Truscott in 1979 and established in 1980, was the most widely used Internet discussion system. Here the users could read and post messages to one or more categories, called newsgroups. Usenet differed from the BBS’ in that there was no central server or dedicated administrator but a distributed network of various local servers that communicate with each other. Users post and read messages on the local servers. Usenet resembled the BBS in many respects and is the precursor to the various Internet forums being used today.
Bulletin Board Systems were in many ways a precursor to the modern form of the World Wide Web, Social Network Services and other aspects of the Internet. And as the use of the Internet became more widespread in the mid to late 1990s, traditional BBS’s rapidly faded in popularity. Today, Internet forums occupy much of the same social and technological space as BBS’s did, and the term BBS is often used to refer to any online forum or message board.
3. Commercial Online Services (1979–2001): The term Commercial Online Services in the early days referred to a commercial computer communication service in which the paid members could dial via a computer modem, the service’s private computer network and access various services and information resources such a bulletin boards, downloadable files and programs, news articles, chat rooms, and electronic mail services. The first commercial online services to go live in the year 1979 were CompuServeand The Source, which were owned by large corporate companies. These online services utilised text-based interfaces and menus and allowed their users to use email, chat, news, financial and stock information, bulletin boards, special interest groups (SIG) and forums. Another company called Prodigy Communications Corporation claimed that it was the first consumer online service and cited its graphical user interface and basic architecture as differentiation from CompuServe, which started in 1979 and used a command line interface. CompuServe and Prodigy were the first large scale corporate attempts to get an interactive, “social” online experience to the masses. Although CompuServe was infamous for its high cost, it was the first to offer an online chat system called the CB Simulator, in 1980. Later it was America Online (AOL), founded in 1983 that became popular with the American masses for its online software suite (AOL) that allowed its customers to access the world’s largest “walled garden” online community and eventually reach out to the Internet as a whole. AOL had over 30 million members worldwide, at its prime. CompuServe and Prodigy were the first large scale corporate attempts to get an interactive, “social” online experience to the masses. Although CompuServe was infamous for its high cost, it was the first to offer an online chat system called the CB Simulator, in 1980. Later it was America Online (AOL), founded in 1983 that became popular with the American masses for its online software suite (AOL) that allowed its customers to access the world’s largest “walled garden” online community and eventually reach out to the Internet as a whole. AOL had over 30 million members worldwide, at its prime.
4. The World Wide Web (WWW) – 1991: Although the Internet had existed as a network since the late 1960s, the World Wide Web (WWW) became publicly available only on 6th August 1991. In the early ’90s Internet access was available only to those who had legitimate University/Government/Military connections. But in the mid ’90s many private Internet service providers (ISP) came into being in the major metro areas of the United States, which gave millions of home computer users the opportunity to enjoy unfiltered and unlimited online services.
5. IRC, ICQ and Instant Messenger (1983–1996): We can see that as the long distance communication systems advanced in technology from a simple telephone to discussions or chatting using computers, people became more and more interested in getting real-time news that was instant and direct from the source or people concerned. Thus the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) that was created in August 1983, by Jarkko Oikarinen, became instantly popular amongst the masses. It was then that people started using the hash tags (#) and the at-signs(@) and began “tweeting” their real-time status updates that is now a popular phenomenon on the micro-blogging site Twitter. The people used IRC to share links, files and to keep in touch with their global network, much the same way as Twitter is being used today.
The IRC was probably the origin to the concept of the Instant Messaging system called ICQ that was developed by four Israeli technologists in the year 1996 for the desktop computers. This technology was quickly bought over by the AOL, which became a mainstream hit with the people as the IM technology helped develop the emotional icons of the social media with the Avatars, which are expressive images used to represent oneself. This is when the abbreviations (A/S/L –Age/Sex/Location) and the emoticons became the common and popular “computer lingo” (language used by the people to express themselves on computers).
6. Peer-To-Peer (P2P), BitTorrent-“Social” Media Sharing (1999): The “social” media sharing concept had begun in earnest as people were now sharing links, files, photos etc via different media platforms like email, forums, chatting or instant messenger. The people could now easily upload or download files to and from the Internet sites. Thus, the “file sharing” application like the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) was developed by Napster and went live in June 1999. This P2P file sharing application allowed users easy and fast download of music albums in the MP3 format, which could be instantly burned onto a CD. Napster made it relatively easy for music enthusiasts to download copies of songs that were otherwise difficult to obtain, like older songs, unreleased recordings, and songs from concert bootleg recordings. It became so popular that at its peak there were 25 million users and 80 million songs, but the system never once crashed. The P2P applications brought about a drastic shift in the distribution of power from the music record companies to the consumers. Thus music began to flow freely across the Internet at an astonishing pace through the years 1999–2000, until it was declared illegal. Napster was then forced to do away with all the copyrighted content. Napster’s place was quickly taken over by other competing P2P applications like the Limewire, until the BitTorrent technology (a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol) arrived that provided a legal, centralised way to share files without being blocked. Today, without a doubt, BitTorrent is the most recognisable software for downloading large amounts (any kind) of data from the Internet. BitTorrent clients like µTorrent, BitComet, qBitTorrent, Tixati, Deluge etc are used to implement the VitTorrent protocol on the computers connected to the internet.
7. Social Networking Sites (1997–2016): By and by it became quite clear from the way the Internet was being used by the people that they loved to network, share content, upload or download files and share them online with friends and also liked to keep in touch with the updated news and whereabouts of their contacts. Thus the concept of social networking took shape in the form of several websites that offered such networking features. Initially, social networking sites tried to connect people who were connected to each other from their early school days with sites like Classmates.com, which proved to be a really good way for people to have a virtual reunion and therefore became quite popular in the US. However, the early users could not create profiles, but were successful in locating long-lost buddies and the site has managed to register more than 40 million accounts today. Another site that sprung up in 1997 called SixDegrees.com did not share a similar kind of success, but was one of the very first sites to allow users to create profiles, invite friends, organise groups and also be able to surf other user profiles. The site was based on the theory that no person is separated from another by more than six degrees. It was in 2002 that the social networking scene really hit the Internet with the launch of a site called Friendster. This site also used the similar concept of degree of separation like the now defunct SixDegrees.com and refined it to a Circle of Friends (that displayed the pathways connecting two people). The concept promoted the idea of a rich online community that could exist only if there were common bonds between people and the site went on to ensure that there were plenty of ways to discover those bonds. The site became hugely popular and an instant hit boasting of more than 115 million registered users and still remains a force in Asia and a near-necessity in the Philippines. Today, Friendster.com has been re-invented to become an online fun virtual gaming community and forums site intended for teenagers and adults. A year later, in 2003, other social networking sites like LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook were introduced.
It was during this period in 2014 that snapchat arrived on the scene. It was called the Emergence of Social Messaging (2014): Modern instant messaging and SMS gained prominence in early and mid-1990s. While SMS (Short Messaging Service) allowed users to send text messages over the telephony network without internet connection, the instant messaging enabled similar functionality via the web. The history of instant messaging dates back to the ICQ era. Till the year 2009, despite the instant messengers being available on various mail clients and social networking sites, SMS was still the king of messaging and mobile texting was the key mode of personal communications globally. It did not have any competition and was cheaper than talking on phone. However, in mid-2000 the smartphones began to take over the mobile sphere and offered higher speed internet and Wi-Fi connectivity. This led to a replication of instant messenger on to the mobile devices. The SMS retained its monopoly over messaging till 2012, but in 2013 the social messaging overtook the SMS usage.The social messaging or the chat applications run on the smartphones and use internet for connectivity. The social messaging apps like Whatsapp, Kik, WeChat, SnapChat etc are free to download and use (besides the charges for internet usage) and hence become the preferred form of communication over the alternatives available on phone i.e. SMS and call, both of which are paid services. The non-intrusive nature of social messaging coupled with feasibility of group chats, and file sharing took it to the dominant position. Chat apps have now become multimedia hubs where users can easily share videos, photos, stickers, games, articles, live streams, and more.
Kaplan and Haenlein classified the social media into six different types based on their media research and published it in an article in Business Horizons (2010). They classified the social media as:
1. Collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia)
2. Blogs and Microblogs (e.g. Twitter)
3. Content Communities (e.g. Youtube)
4. Social Networking Sites (e.g. Facebook)
5. Virtual Game Worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft)
6. Virtual Social Worlds (e.g. Second Life)
Honeycomb Framework of Social Media Functionality: Kietzmann et al. (2011) studied the social media activities on the Internet and found that the behavior of the consumers on the Internet had changed from simply expending content, reading it, watching it, buying and selling products or services to now take a more active part by utilizing various platforms like content sharing sites, blogs, social networking sites and wikis – to create, modify, share and discuss Internet content. According to their article, this represents the social media phenomenon, which now has the capability to significantly impact a firm’s reputation, its sales and even survival for that matter. In spite of this phenomenon, many executives are still ignoring this form of social media simply because they do not understand it, or the various forms it can take, and even how to engage with it and learn. Thus, to help the organisations to engage with, know and understand the social media better, they came up with a honeycomb framework that defines the social media by using seven functional building blocks, namely: Identity, Conversations, Sharing, Presence, Relationships, Reputation, and Groups. Using this honeycomb framework they have tried to explain the implications that each block can have for how firms should engage with the social media. The figure shows how different social media activities are defined by the extent to which they focus on some or all of these blocks. For example – LinkedIn focuses primarily on Identity, Reputation and Relationships, whereas Youtube focuses primarily on Sharing, Conversations, Groups and Reputation. In this manner, one can study the focus of each social media platform to be able to understand it better and be able to use and engage it in the right manner to get the maximum leverage out of it. Kietzmann et al., in the article published in Business Horizons, have explained in detail how the framework can be used to compare and contrast the functionalities and implications of different social media activities and also presented guidelines for how firms should develop strategies for monitoring, understanding, and responding to the different social media activities.
The Conversation Prism 4.0 (TCP) by Brian Solis: Brian Solis (a principal analyst at Altimeter Group), an anthropologist, a digital analyst and a futurist developed the Conversation Prism (TCP) in 2008, which is a visual map of the social media landscape. His study in digital ethnography is an on-going one that tracks dominant and promising social networks and organises them by how they are used in everyday life. Brian partnered with Jesse Thomas of JESS3 to bring a unique perspective to the social media ecosystem. Their collective effort in creative design and thoughtful approach helped to make the Conversation Prism the standard illustration for all things social media. As of 2013, the Conversation Prism has gone through four different versions with the version 4.0 marketing the most significant change since 2009. So why was it called a Prism instead of a colour wheel? He defined it as a Prism in the traditional sense of the word, as a prism disperses white light into a spectrum of colours. In this case, the white light is the focused stream of conversations that are often grouped, but not separated by voice, context, source, or outcome. This beam of dialogue is blasted into a spectrum of discernible light to see, hear, learn and adapt. Thus, he has literally brought “conversations to light.” Conversation Prism comprises of four concentric halos:
1. Halo 1: That is the centre of all conversations, with Brand You. The idea here is that you should explore all the social networks and opportunities that would work best for you (your brand) so that you can gain or introduce value. Here, Value could be defined in terms of not just traditional ROI, but in terms of the brand resonance or equity, relationships, leadership, intelligence etc.
2. Halo 2: What is your vision for social media, the purpose or reason for being social and if it can be justified logically against other investment opportunities? What is the value you intend to deliver and how will you assess and communicate this value towards the social interactions and relationships that are involved here? However, it is also imperative to understand the level of commitment that would be necessary to provide and gain value as you scale, so you need to be careful before investing in social media. With the advance in technology, the networks and nodes of doing business are becoming more human and information is readily available at our fingertips thereby bringing in more transparency in all that we do or say.
3. Halo 3: Social is a way of conducting business functions today, be it HR, Sales and Marketing, Communications, Brand Development, Service or Community. All these functions are essential to mature business perspective from a command and control mentality to that of engagement and openness.
4. Halo 4: The last of the four concentric circles in the Conversation Prism reminds us of the importance of listening in a conversation, and in doing so being able to learn and adapt so as to improve all that we do inside or outside the company, thus, being in the “Always Be Improving” (ABI) mode.
Snapchat has performed exceptionally well in these halos which can be seen in the India example I discussed above, besides Snapchat’s success as a photo messaging App can be attributed to the following 4 benefits it provides it’s customers and 5 benefits to the businesses around the world. These benefits are to the individuals are:
1. Personal Use: Individuals can use the social media for personal reasons, which may be for keeping in touch with the latest technology, news, gossip, and happenings around the world or in their own locality. Social media is also fast replacing the traditional means of communications. In this day and age, it would be hard to find a person who does not use the e-mail facility to send messages to friends/colleagues and/or for official purposes or use the social media for collaboration.
2. Explore Your Creativity: The social media is available in many forms, as explained in the previous chapter. People can use this media to explore their own creativity, for example, a person who loves to write can create their own blogs and explore their writing talents. Blogs are the best way for individuals to express themselves, their views and opinions on any and all subjects. In this manner, a person can establish their expertise in their particular niche subject by using the blog effectively. There are several other writing platforms that allow people to submit content on their site and reward them in different ways. Due to the very nature of social media it is easy to reach a large audience and find an interested readership.
3. Social Interaction: Human beings love to socialise and interact with each other. The social media enables people to interact with each other using the highly accessible and scalable communication techniques that are available today, in the form of websites and the mobile phones.
4. Get Empowered: The social media has succeeded in putting the power back into the consumer’s hands. As mentioned in the paragraph above, any individual can have a “social influence” by virtue of his/her social interactions on the web or via mobile technologies.
These benefits to businesses are as follows:
1) Accessibility: The social media is easily accessible and takes minimal or no costs to use. Social media is easy to use and does not require any special skills, knowledge to use. It is absolutely simple to connect with others and be a part of communities. Therefore anyone with online access can use the Social Media to initiate or participate in the conversations. In a sense, everyone is now empowered to speak up.
2) Speed: The content that you create on the social media is available to everyone in your network/forum/community as soon as you publish it. You can communicate with your audience without any external factor affecting the delivery of your message. The responses are also near instantaneous and thus you can have a dialogue, which is almost in real-time.
3) Interactivity: Social media affords a two way or multiple communication channels. Users can interact with each other; ask questions, discuss products/services, share opinions and anything else they might be interested in doing.
4) Longevity/volatility: Social media content remains accessible for a long time, maybe forever, because of the nature of the medium. In addition to this the content can be edited/updated anytime. So, if a user likes a particular product and says so in the social media, it is not a permanent positive vote for the product; the user can always go back and change his opinion anytime.
5) Reach: The Internet offers an unlimited reach to all content available. Anyone can access it from anywhere and anyone can reach, potentially, everyone. Social media offers the same facility to all the users who can share anything with anyone they like.
So this was how snapchat that started in the Social Networking Era grew up into the gain it is today.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath