This blog post was written by our latest intern Sam. He is currently a junior in high school with a much different perspective on how to use Snapchat than most of us reading this post.
Right now, if you ask teens what apps that they use the most, Snapchat would be on top of that list.
While this is nothing new, what is new is the prominence of “streaks” within the Snapchat app, and how important they seem to be to teens.
What is a Snapchat Streak?
For those who don’t know, a streak is when two people each send one another at least one photo through Snapchat within 24 hours. After three days of sending snaps, that person gets a number next to their name, and the number grows as the length of the streak grows.
Currently, my longest streak is 331 days. It has survived numerous international trips with sketchy service, trips to camp without my phone, and a few fights where we still sent that one black screen a day, just to keep the streak going.
But Why Does this Matter?
For some teens, Snapchat streaks are a measure of friendship, in the sense that the length of their streak determines the strength of their friendship. For others, streaks are a form of social validation, where the number of streaks they have relates to their popularity.
But is that true and are all streaks created equal?
Currently, I hold streaks with 73 people. To keep all of them, I send out two mass snaps to all my streaks in the morning and at night, filling my requirements for the streak. For some, that is the only snap I send.
With some of my other friends, I go back and forth all day, sending photos of anything and everything that captures my attention.
So if I have a 200-day streak, but it is just one or two snaps a day, and another streak that is 50 days, but we are constantly exchanging snaps, which streak is more representative of a friendship?
Is either of them representative of anything?
When Reality Sinks In
In some ways, neither is better, since they will both most likely end. Soon, teens will move on from (or age out of) arbitrary photo sharing and onto something else, and Snapchat streaks will just be “that thing we were all obsessed with in high school.” Eventually, teens will move on as we do and find the next app that we want to use, and with it will come the eventual flurry of businesses trying to market to us on it.
For now, however, we will keep our streaks.
…But What About Business?
Since we will keep our streaks for now and for the foreseeable future, there will constantly be companies trying to use streaks to reach us. But how can companies use streaks?
Consider a high profile motivational personality, who wants to keep in touch with her 10 clients, every day.
She could use Snapchat to connect with them and use the length of the streak as a metric that can be measured and compared with her other clients. Maybe she finds that some clients are more responsive, and therefore engaged, than others. Those clients become her top priorities since they are the most engaged.
However, there are drawbacks here as well.
While Snapchat creates a very close and personal communication experience, some clients may not feel comfortable using a platform like Snapchat to communicate, which would make them seem less engaged. This is why businesses need to know their audience. If a business knows that they cater to a younger crowd who would be comfortable using Snapchat to communicate, then they should go ahead and use Snapchat to communicate.
The temporary style of messages differentiates it from other social networks, and since so many teens use it to interact with each other, if the content feels right then they will interact with your business.
By contrast, for someone with 100 clients, or with a client base who would feel uncomfortable using a network like Snapchat, this strategy of individual communication with each client through Snapchat is probably not a viable option. But I think it’s important for businesses to understand that in spite of the popularity and importance of streaks, the possibilities for reaching teens through streaks are similarly low.
Most teens only keep streaks with people they know, even if they are not close, they have met each other a few times. In practice, interacting with a business in your streaks would be the opposite of how teens use streaks now, which is a way to communicate with friends in a way that is temporary and can be kept going with a simple selfie instead of constantly keeping an iMessage conversation going with words.
Streaks are almost like communicating without communicating. You send pictures, usually of yourself, back and forth, but no ideas are shared, no information is gained by either party, which is partly why streaks would not work for most businesses.
How To Send Streaks on SnapChat
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