No, Snapchat is not just an overseas, only for young people craze.
Admittedly, I thought it was too. Messages and photos that automatically delete? Not necessary. Even after finally giving in, I couldn't understand how to use it since the interface was completely different from any other social network I had used. After some frustration I figured it out, and it has now become one of my most used apps and I'm not alone in saying that it's not something to be slept on. First, let me explain the main benefit for the typical user.
It brings people closer.
Up until Snapchat, social networks have been generally focused on viewing streams and uploading into them. Because these posts stay on our profiles, they're often carefully prepared and thought over, which can be a hurdle to sharing for many and lead to a lack of genuineness. Snapchat's opening screen is already the camera, and because posts delete after they're viewed or in 24 hours automatically, sharing glimpses of our lives freely as well as keeping up with our friends is a lot easier. The authenticity and ephemerality of the network is one of the reasons why users have been so engaged; 65% of users post daily and 8 billion videos are viewed everyday (Facebook also has 8 billion videos viewed per day but several times the users). And unlike streams where we are forced to see posts even without choosing to, Snapchat allows users to choose whose posts to look at, thus making it less annoying to use.
You might be saying, "But Snapchat isn't popular in Japan, so why pay attention to it?" A few reasons:
1. Snapchat represents a bigger trend in how people are wanting to consume social media.
Recent research says that younger social media users are posting less to broadcast networks and are favoring more intimate communication styles. This is why usage on messaging apps like Messenger, Whatsapp and WeChat are on the rise. You can see this in Japan as well with LINE's popularity. If you want to know what trends will happen on social next, look to the young who start it rather than the elders sitting at their office desks. The truth is that people are beginning to dislike all the mass-targeted content shoved in their faces constantly, and unfortunately, this way of doing social media is what many companies have gotten accustomed to. People want more authenticity than what they have been getting, and they want to choose what they see and interact with. Snapchat and these other messaging apps allow this and gives people more control.
2. The people will have the power in the "Snapchat era," and companies are the ones who will have to adapt.
Because users can choose what content to view and skip easily on Snapchat, they have the power of choice. This means that it is the marketer's job to figure out how to keep their fans interested and how to be a good citizen in their social community. Facebook knows this too, and is continuing to develop advertising tools with the customer in mind first. The era of companies simply posting what they want into streams whenever they want, paying for views and ignoring users is slowly changing. It's best to start preparing for that change now. Companies will need to go where their customers are, entertain them there and behave in a proper manner that is accepted by them or they will risk losing large audiences.
3. Japan has been usually late, but major social networks like Snapchat do end up coming over.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all took a while to cross the ocean and get big in Japan but all ended up gaining major popularity. Snapchat, already a mainstream social network in many countries overseas with a value approaching $20 billion will undoubtably increase its presence. Like the networks mentioned before, usage starts amongst those in the international community, spreads to Japanese with foreign interests and trickles out from there. People within the country are already starting to tune in, and it's only a matter of time until it goes mainstream. While from a business standpoint it has mainly been a space for official publishers and companies who are able to shell out big bucks, it is slowly but surely becoming a space where even small businesses can promote themselves.
With no major cultural hurdles and virtually no domestic competition, Snapchat is poised to be the next network to make its way over. There is already a growing amount of people interested in Japan due to celebrity usage and Snapchat's fun face Lenses. I share this with you in hopes that when it finally does boom in Japan, local companies won't be caught off guard like they were with other international social networks.