Will Snapchat Ever Be a Useful Professional Tool?
Snapchat is in that category of seemingly bizarre social media products that pundits mock and that causes laymen to scratch their heads - yet its use is so widespread that it recently rejected a $3 billion purchase offer from Facebook and can now lay claim to as many as 350 million snaps in a day. For the uninitiated, it's a photo-sharing service where all images are set to self-destruct after 10 seconds.
But is Snapchat destined to be used almost exclusively by teenagers? Or does it have a future as a valuable tool for professionals?
That's the question raised by K-Street Cafe's Norah Heintz. In response to high-flying claims made by Pinger CEO Greg Woock that "erasable" social communication represents the future of the medium, she argues that Snapchat will never be able to compete with Facebook and Twitter because "it's far too private. Sharing information about oneself is intrinsically rewarding, and I would go so far to say that if the personal information shared is programmed to disappear in seconds, it's fundamentally less satisfying to share".
However, what Heintz may be underestimating is the significant chilling effect caused by, what the New York Times' Nick Bilton has dubbed, "the anxiety of permanence". Many individuals who have online social-networking accounts do not actively engage or post on them for fear of infinite archiving. If you extend that logic then the possibility of "erasable" social communication may actually increase the number of active users participating in online social networks and/or significantly alter the types of communications people are willing to share.
For better or worse. While clearly that principle would mean trouble in terms of the behavior of teenagers, it also holds intriguing potential in terms of professionals in a collaborative business environment.
What Snapchat has revealed is that there clearly is an undeniable market for erasable social media. And my guess is that that market isn't confined to America's high schools.