Lentis/The Culture of Snapchat


Snapchat is a social media platform that allows users to send self destructing pictures to their snapchat friends. It was founded by Reggie Brown, Evan Speigel, and Bobby Murphy; it is currently owned by Evan Speigel and Bobby Murphy. Snapchat is the fastest growing social media platform among Americans aged 12-24.

The many features of snapchatEdit

Snapchat originally consisted only of sending pictures to friends, but has expanded. Currently a snapchat user can: send self destructing photos and videos to any of their snapchat friends, post multiple pictures or videos to their "story" that will last on their friends' feed for 24 hours, chat with snapchat friends, exchange currency, put filters on videos and pictures, put text over pictures and videos, draw over pictures and videos, video chat with their snapchat friends, follow celebrity snapchats, and obtain snapchat "streaks" for sending snaps to friends for multiple days in a row.[1]


A snap can be a picture or video sent to any snapchat friend. The sender can decide how long the snap will be viewable, ranging between one and ten seconds. If the receiver wants to replay the snap, they may do so once, or they may also take a screenshot. The sender is notified if either of these actions occur.

My StoryEdit

Stories are one or more snaps that a user posts. These stories are available to be viewed for 24 hours by any snapchat friend and appear on a feed of all friends' stories. The user can delete their stories and can see who has viewed their stories.


Streaks is a counter of how many consecutive days two snapchat friends have sent and received snaps from each other. Some users, particularly younger users, care deeply about their streaks with friends. If a user is going somewhere they may not have data, a way to keep streaks alive is sharing their snapchat password with a friend so that they keep up the streaks.[2]


In 2014, Snapchat launched SnapCash, a way to send money to friends on the app. In order to send money on Snapchat, a user must link their debit card and then use the green button in the chat feature. Money then goes straight from the sender's bank account to the receiver's bank account.


Snapchat offers filters that can be put over any snap. These filters include voice changing, face swapping, overlaying images onto faces, and are tweaked often by Snapchat. Geofilters are special filters that use GPS to determine where the user is and put a design relating to the location over the snap. Geofilters can be sponsored by companies/groups, bought by individuals, or provided by Snapchat.


As of September 2016, Snapchat has over 60 million daily users in the U.S. and Canada[3] and over 150 million daily users globally.[4] 23% of Snapchat users are 13-17 years old, 37% are 18-24, and 26% are 25-36.[5] In 2016, 26% of 12-24 year olds in the U.S. say that Snapchat is their preferred social media app (up from 15% in 2015).

Shared NarrativesEdit

Snapchat contributes to a shared narrative culture. By allowing users to instantly share what they are doing, Snapchat makes everyone more available to receiving and distributing experiences. Due to filters available, some argue that Snapchat has contributed to the trend of making reality seem "cooler" than it is. This can be seen at concerts, where some attendees are more involved in sending snaps than the performance. Others argue that it allows people from around the world to have experiences virtually that would have been impossible in real life, for example an American seeing Snapchat stories of Diwali in India. Either way, Snapchat encourages sharing moments virtually, making what people share a part of who they are and how they are perceived.

Ownership (IPO rumors)Edit

On November 15, 2016, Snap Inc. (the parent company of Snapchat) filed for an initial public offering[6]. Snap Inc. is filing for a confidential IPO under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS Act. The IPO, which could occur as soon as March 2017, is estimated to come at a valuation of between $20 billion and $25 million. Snapchat turned down a $3 billion cash acquisition offer from Facebook in 2013.[7]



Snapchat has introduced a new idea in the era of technology, the idea of non-permanence. While many people have been taught to be careful what you put online since it's there forever, Snapchat has changed that. According to Snapchat's policy, snaps are deleted once all of the recipients have viewed the snap. Opened snaps can not be accessed on Snapchat's servers by anyone. If a recipient has not opened a snapchat, it will be deleted after 30 days. Similar to snaps, chats are deleted once both the sender and recipient have viewed it and closed out of the chat window. The only way for people to access snaps or chats is if somebody screenshots it, which will notify the sender.[8]

There are certain circumstances that require Snapchat to access unopened photos, such as if Snapchat is compelled by the law to act. Under the Electronic Communications Policy Act (ECPA), Snapchat can be required to hand over unopened snaps that law enforcement agencies request through search warrants. Since May 2013, only a dozen of the search warrants received have forced Snapchat to provide unopened snaps to law agency, compared to the 350 million snaps sent everyday.[9]


A key component of Snapchat's success is the authenticity. Snapchat is a window into people's lives that wouldn't have existed otherwise. Snapchat is caught in the moment without any editting behind the screen. Instead of opening onto a news feed to browse, Snapchat opens the camera directly on you so people are able to catch a moment and share it in a second. Through the concept of non-permanence, people are able to be more free on Snapchat knowing that one snap will disappear after a few seconds or a story will be gone in 24 hours.

DJ Khaled epitomizes the ethos of the app by allowing viewers to see his daily life and routine. He puts out snaps of meetings with other celebrities, while he DJs and even while he is a keynote speaker. He even includes a daily motivational elliptical talk to encourage people to be active and healthy, and to strive for success.[10]

Addiction to SnapchatEdit

The goals of Snapchat, the company, are different than those of Snapchat's users. The company wants users to use Snapchat as much as possible. Users want to enjoy the app as much as possible.[11] Snapchat's many features can be addictive, especially for teens. It's easy to get caught up in all the different filters and stories from your friends or celebrities.[12] More deviously, Snapchat has instituted a "Snapchat Score" for each user, which is essentially the sum of all your sent and received snaps. The score is an accessible, quantifiable score of popularity on Snapchat. Teens can go to great lengths to boost their scores, thus improving their popularity, sometimes sending and receiving upwards of 1,000 snaps in a day.[13] The addition of snap streaks only added to the addiction, with users now obliged to snap daily in order to keep their streaks going.


How does Snapchat make money?Edit

Like almost every company, Snapchat wants to make money with their product. They make their money by providing a different kind of access to consumers. Companies can advertise on Snapchat by paying for featured Snapchat filters, or they can buy space on Snapchat’s Discover page. Snapchat has a base of young, enthusiastic users so it’s a far better place to reach teens and young adults than Facebook or Twitter or traditional media.[14]

Snapchat is exploring digital ad targeting to entice more companies to advertise with them. Through a product called Snap Audience Match, Snapchat is allowing marketers to match their existing lists of emails and cell phone IDs to Snapchat users.[15] Companies can also advertise using Snapchat Lifestyle Categories, which lets brands direct ads to people who consume certain types of videos e.g. sports or outdoors adventures. Although Snapchat uses temporary messages, users on it are still tracked by the company. By tracking and targeting users, Snapchat makes itself more attractive for companies looking to advertise.

How do companies use Snapchat to make money?Edit

Advertising on Snapchat is not like advertising on other social media or web sites. Instead of vying for attention on the side of a page or buried with normal posts, ads take center stage on Snapchat's Discover page. Companies try to appeal to the millennials who use Snapchat by using short, attention-grabbing ads. Gatorade created an ad that was an 8-bit-style game that Snapchat users could play directly in the app.[16] The interactivity helped generate an average time spent of three minutes per person. Companies can also target their ads using Snapchat. They can target specific types of users using Snapchat's advertising tools, or they can target a specific area.[15] Companies' advertising power on Snapchat is another reminder of how much data companies have on their users, and how little true privacy there is online.

How do Snapchat users make money?Edit

However, it’s not just large companies that can make money through Snapchat. Normal people can do it too. Snapchat has changed the balance of power with advertising because anyone with a smartphone and creativity can gain a large following.[17] Snapchat can feel a lot more personal than other kinds of social media because it has a more one-on-one feel. Because of this personal connection, it can be easier to engage with people. What was originally meant as an app to have conversations with friends has been adapted. Snapchat “celebrities” share their lives with their followers, so their followers feel like they know them.[18] That way, when they advertise a product, it just seems like they’re talking to their friends about something they like.[19] There are some other ways through which many peoples are making money. Like Selling Custom Filters, selling Shoutouts for money, brands deals, etc.

One example of this is Shonduras, who is a Snapchat celebrity. He’s used his fame to branch out on all kinds of social media and he has his own website.[20] The website has a shop where you can buy Shonduras designed shirts and hoodies, or a lock of his hair. He’s partnered with Disney, AT&T, Red Bull, Samsung, and Taco Bell, as well as some others.[21] You can hire him to come speak at a company event or you can just follow along on his vlog. Without Snapchat, it wouldn’t have been possible for him to get a big following and these companies would have no interest in partnering with him, and ultimately nobody would buy locks of his hair.

There are some other ways through which many peoples are making money. Like Selling Custom Filters, selling Shoutouts for money, brands deals, etc.


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