When Snapchat turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer in 2013, the common refrain was that its owners were out of their minds and drunk on Silicon Valley delusions. Users would tire of the privacy issues it posed and teenagers would find new ways to send each other nudes, it was assumed. But, against the odds, three years after its launch, Snapchat has proven to be the little social network that could, evolving in meaningful ways that competitors like Facebook and Twitter have failed to do. It's now valued at $10 billion. Part of Snapchat's success comes from its gradual shift from simply facilitating social interactions between friends to staking out new ground as a media platform, with solutions for media properties, brands with products to shill, and entrepreneurs looking to promote themselves. Here are four ways we've observed Snapchat being used that confirm there's more to the social network than you might have thought.
By publishing original content
The new Discover feature, which launched last week, is a partnership with 11 publishers that delivers content straight to the app. Rather than simply sizing down stories designed for desktop browsing to mobile size, Discover lets editorial teams repurpose existing content specifically for use on Snapchat. An MTV story about Katy Perry's Super Bowl performance, for instance, starts with a bright, animated headline, and is followed by a short rundown of the half-time show. Even outside of Discover, some publishers like Buzzfeed are already sending exclusive content straight to Snapchat.
And premiering music videos
Madonna just dropped the video for "Living For Love," the first single from her forthcoming Rebel Heart album. For now, it's only available to Snapchat's 200 million users via "Snap Channel," which is a hub for a range of images and videos from the app's users.
While offering behind-the-scenes access
There's something about Snapchat that feels particularly intimate. Maybe it's the raw, filter-free images many users send out, or maybe it's the knowledge that the video you're watching will disappear into the ether once it times out. Regardless, we've seen artists and celebrities take advantage of that sentiment. When you get a Snapchat from Vashtie in which the DJ and director is in her hotel room telling you about her plans for the day and the various projects she's working, well, that's just effective marketing.
To sell burritos
Snapchat's calling card is its demographic—more than two-thirds of the app's users are under the age of 25, making it an attractive proposition for advertisers. Last year, Taco Bell was one of Snapchat's early adopters, adding more than 200,000 "friends" and building what it claims was an open rate of 90 percent. When it was time to announce its $1 menu last spring, Taco Bell took to Snapchat to send out photos of its Cheesy Roll-up and Cinnabon Delights, whatever those are.
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