The Evolution of Snapchat

While perusing twitter a few days ago, I saw one of my favorite rappers, Rome Fortune, tweet that he would be teasing his new single that night through Snapchat. Rome Fortune is a rapper out of Atlanta, I am hesitant to call him an "up-and-coming rapper" for many reasons, the main one being he has already had a pretty large impact with the music he's made. The single belonged to a collaborative album he was working on with fellow Atlanta MC, Ceej. Of course after reading the tweets I went and added him on Snapchat to check out the new song. After doing all of this I came to the realization that Snapchat has come a very long way since it's humble beginnings.

Quite a few social media websites have come and gone in recent memory, however, Snapchat as a widely used social media tool has quite a unique story. When Snapchat first hit the app market, many people dubbed it as an app specifically to send nudes. Which, for a while, it basically was, until more recently. With the additions of the Snapchat "Story"  and their new "Discover" mode, Snapchat has become a legitimate contender in the social media game, competing with the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

When Snapchat was originally developed by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, the main purpose of it was to be able to send someone a picture and it would disappear immediately after the recipient viewed the picture. As previously stated, this was ideal for sending nudes, thus it became quite popular. It is also important to note that it not only became popular, but popular with the right groups. Most Snapchat users were, and still are, teens and millennials, basically the tastemakers and trendsetters when it comes to social media, mobile apps and overall technology.  Since then, Snapchat has added the capability to send videos, add pictures and videos to a "Story" which can be seen by anyone for just 24 hours and added the "Discovery" mode. The "Discovery" aspect of Snapchat is something very unique. It's a section of the app where select news outlets and publications, such as CNN, ESPN, Vice and more can broadcast their daily news highlights on Snapchat for the day. In "Discovery" only media approved my Snapchat will get posted, however, more and more individuals and businesses have taken to their story to provide updates and insights within their daily happenings. Much like Rome Fortune did with his new single, many people are using their Snapchat stories to market themselves and whatever it is that they do. Also, in the future Snapchat plans to broadcast live events, starting as soon as broadcasting this month's NCAA Basketball Tournament. More recently, the publication Fader provided us with another example of how this app may be used. SXSW just happened and Fader, held their annual Fader Fort concert series that weekend. They decided to take to snapchat to announce this years line-up and provided basically a live stream into all of the Fader happenings at SXSW through their Snapchat account.

As of August 2014, Snapchat had over 100 million active users. People are sending more than 700 million snaps per day and posting over 500 million stories. Many of my favorite artists, musicians, photographers and even local clothing stores have taken to Snapchat to advertise and display their work. It is still probably being used by many to send nudes, but it is interesting to watch this very simple app mature into something that has the potential to completely revolutionize how individuals absorb news and media. According to Bloomberg, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is planning on investing $200 million into the mobile app, which is currently valued at $15 billion. I am not sure what the future holds for Snapchat and its influence on how we as a society take in media in general, but having one of the world's biggest e-commerce companies planning to invest millions of dollars into what started off as a sexting app is pretty mind blowing.

Considering the realization I came to after streaming Rome Fortune's Snapchats that night, I realized that this app is something that could really help hip hop artists put people onto their music. The difference between Snapchat and other apps is that while most people use Instagram to create artistic photography, Facebook to connect with friends, and Twitter is branded as a micro-blogging service, an individual's snapchat story is an insight into their daily life. Videos you post on your story don't have to be artistic, or shot perfectly, most of the time they should just be fun or funny, or showcasing something cool you might be doing. Schoolboy Q for instance is extremely active on his snapchat story. He posts videos of him in the studio, him hanging with his daughter and him smoking a lot of weed (like, seriously a lot). I even know he just got himself a pet dog recently because of his snapchat. All of these stories can provide fans an insight into an artist's life and create a connection with fans that was previously unattainable before the use of social media. Overall, Snapchat is becoming a more intimate form of interacting with fans and followers.