Does being a 30-something preclude you from using newfangled technologies like Snapchat?
Or is it simply in your mind that the social media platform seems totally out of reach? Since I started using Snapchat a year and a half ago, I can’t count on both sets of fingers and toes the number of friends my age that have said one or more of the following: “I don’t get Snapchat!”, “Snapchat is so confusing”, “I’m too old for Snapchat”, “Isn’t it just for naughty pics?”, and, when they finally do install it, the ever-popular refrain, “Am I using this right?”. As one writer, not even with the excuse of being in her 30s, wrote on Bustle.com: “I am a 24-year-old tech-savvy individual who felt like an 82-year-old grandma from a smart phone commercial when I first tried to navigate the screens.”
Within these questions and frustrations lies the most important aspects of Snapchat (both good and bad, but mostly good): It is a platform, unlike any other, that is specifically elusive in design and interface, yet with surprising delightfulness. It has even been researched to show that it makes users happierthan any other social platform out there.
For users, Snapchat offers a wackiness factor that is unparalleled on other platforms: funky filters, face-swapping, and animal faces can all be added to your ‘snaps’. A direct messaging-type system allows you to send snaps to just friends for a quick “hello!” or save your snaps to your “Snap Story” to allow users to watch them for up to 24 hours. But eventually, everything disappears. There is no way to be validated: no likes, no view counts visible to friends, no amount of followers displayed, and therefore no pressure. A common complaint among Facebook and Instagram users is that if you do not expertly curate your content, people can become easily annoyed. Snapchat subverts this by allowing users to choose whose story to peep that day – maybe a couple, maybe none at all. It’s your choice, not the algorithm or the chronology.
For companies and their marketers, Snapchat is slowly becoming that achy tooth that you can no longer ignore. A recently announced API along with now-unavoidable snap advertisements between Friends’ stories will give marketers new tools and opportunities to leverage the platform for their clients, and as more and more celebrities and media moguls jump on to the platform, so do more opportunities to reach broad audiences.
As we 30-somethings who began in young agencies and start-ups in the early 2000s move forward, we better be willing to bring Snapchat with us. And that’s not scary or gross – it’s funny and weird and fun. As Jenna Wortham recently put it in her New York Times entitled How I Learned to Love Snapchat, “…Snapchat isn’t the place where you go to be pretty. It’s the place where you go to be yourself, and that is made easy thanks to the app’s inbuilt ephemerality. Away from the fave-based economies of mainstream social media, there’s less pressure to be dolled up, or funny.”