Snapchat used to be about one thing: sharing selfies with friends and followers.
Make a duck face, snap a picture, and post it to your Snapchat story.
Now, with more than 10 million videos viewed each day, Snapchat wants to help users tell a deeper story.
If you’re not a Snapchat user, a “story” is simply a photo or video you post to your own account feed. Think of it as your Facebook home page (or “wall” for you old-school users) or your profile page on Twitter.
Swipe from right to left on any Snapchat tab until you find the “Stories” screen tab. You’ll see stories of the people you follow under “Recent Updates.” You can view stories from news and entertainment sources such as CNN, Comedy Central and ESPN.
When you open Snapchat, the first screen is usually a front-facing camera, aimed directly on your face, of course (which is always a little disconcerting for me). The idea behind making this the opening screen is to prompt you to share what you’re doing in that moment.
After taking that amazing shot, you can decide whether to share it with the world or just a few select friends.
If you’re not an active Snapchat user, and feel like it’s an app for a younger generation, you’re only partly right.
According to statista.com, 60 percent of Snapchat users are in the 13-24 age group.
However, 38 percent of users are in the 25-54 age group, a broader age category to be sure, but Snapchat adoption among this older age group is on the rise.
This is probably because Snapchat has become much more than just a place to share adorable selfies by a mostly self-absorbed teenage user base.
In early 2016, Snapchat reported that about a third of its daily users created “stories” with photos, and that they were posting more videos to complement those photos and add to their story.
When Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel met with investors earlier this year, he noted that video views increased over five times from the same point in 2015. This is likely due to the large amount of video and live content posted by The Wall Street Journal, Food Network and other media outlets.
Spiegel said that users were watching about 10 million videos a day. He also reported that the app had more than 100 million daily users in the first part of 2016.
Of course, 100 million users pales in comparison to social media behemoth Facebook’s 1.7 billion users. But the fact that Facebook entered the live video realm shortly after Snapchat launched its video-sharing capabilities may be a sign that the social media giant recognizes competition when it sees it.
Because of this, it’s likely that Snapchat video and other live video will be a dominant social media trend throughout the rest of 2016 and 2017.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.