The Role of Social Communication Applications. Social Media Essay

Social communication applications have become a major impact of the digital world; however, one application has attracted the attention of many teens, Snapchat. Snapchat is a multimedia IOS and Android application used mainly for sending images, messages, and videos. Snapchat began as a class project in college by Evan Spiegel, its co-founder, and two of his classmate friends, Bobbie Murphy and Reggie Brown. Snapchat was originally called Picaboo, but its founders noticed the application had a slow user growth. Eventually, the founders were forced to rename the name “Picaboo” after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from a photo company with the same name. Afterward that incident, the creators came up with a new name, Snapchat, and no soon after giving the application its signature logo, the ghost. After the successful name change, its user growth went through the roof. Created in July 2011, Snapchat was officially released to the public in September 2011. Since its release, Snapchat has gained many users and has greatly influenced the pop culture. Snapchat has become a major icon of pop culture because users can express themselves in how they engage with family and friends, how they connect with celebrities while gathering the latest information, and how they become accustomed to recruitment and brand awareness.

The unique ways users can express themselves in how they engage with family and friends makes Snapchat an important part of pop culture. Brett Molina, a journalist for Lansing State Journal, says that users are “using photographs to talk.” (D.2). These photographs are called “snaps”. Snapchat users can express themselves through snaps and videos by decorating them with fun filters, effects, text captions, and drawings. The filters and effects are both fun and creative for Snapchat users allowing them to express themselves through whichever filter and effect they would like. Molina states, “They can turn their selfie into the image of an adorable puppy, or a video of a deer sounding like it inhaled helium.” (D.2). After users have taken their pictures or videos they can then send them to whoever they would like or post it to their story compilations called “My Story”. Unlike snaps which are individual pictures or videos, stories are a collection of different pictures and videos Snapchat users have taken throughout the day or week. The picture and video compilations are available for a limited amount of time, but they allow users to replay the picture or video a second time before it’s officially deleted making Snapchat different from other social media platforms. Also, unlike other social media applications, Snapchat has disappearing messages. Disappearing messages are chat messages that users can send to followers via a private chat box. These messages allow users who are unwilling to send an image or video to communicate via text message. Disappearing messages are available for a limited amount of time just like snapchat stories which give many Snap chatters a feeling a security within the application. The messages will also alert the user if a screenshot has been taken of the message. Snapchat’s unique ways users can engage with family and friends make it a ritual to pop culture.

The ability for users to connect with celebrities and get the latest information on Snapchat also shows how snapchat is of pop culture. More and more celebrities are joining Snapchat and their fans are in a frenzy to follow them. Andrew Wallenstein, a journalist for Los Angeles newspaper, writes, “In addition, celebrities are all over Snapchat, from established stars like Ellen DeGeneres, who added the platform to her already formidable digital roster, to DJ Khaled, a lesser-known hip-hop producer whose daily affirmations about life and luxury may be the best example of Snapchat’s ability to mint new celebrities.” (34-35). Unlike Facebook, Snapchat users can see pictures and watch personal videos of these celebrities allowing them to connect with the celebrities. Snapchat users like the connection with their favorite celebrities and the fact that celebrities can watch their snaps as well. Snapchat users are also able to find out quickly what’s going on in the world via Discover, a new Snapchat platform interface, or Live Stories. Discover was officially introduced to Snapchat in 2015. The Discover feature allows users to receive the latest news and information from top media companies including ESPN, CNN, and more. The Discover feature focuses on news surrounding celebrities, sports, and even entertainment. Users can also subscribe to any story they like on Discover. Snapchat live stories are also ways Snap chatters gather information from around the world. Remember the Republican presidential debate on February 26th, 2016? News reporter Anderson Cooper broadcasted most of this debate on his TV home network channel, CNN, but according to Wallenstein, “The world didn’t watch any of this on Cooper’s home network, CNN, and the anchor probably wasn’t aware of the footage being gathered…” (34-35). Even though most Americans were not aware of the coverage, “...Users of Snapchat saw the video streamed as one of the mobile app’s so-called Live Stories.” ( 35). Snapchat user’s ability to get news coverage fast and some of the latest information from the app makes it unique. Snapchats interfaces for connecting with celebrities and gaining information from platforms make it correspond with pop culture.

Also, teens are finding jobs easier because companies are beginning to use snapchat for recruitment purposes making Snapchat a part of pop culture. Teenagers today are searching for jobs and companies are using Snapchat to bring them in. Sarah Dobson, a reporter of the Canadian HR journal, writes, “Looking to hire whooping 250,000 workers in the United States for the summer of 2017, McDonald's tried out a new hiring tool in June with “Snaplications.” (2). Snaplications are digital video-based applications which allows users of Snapchat to view ads of current employees discussing the benefits of working at the restaurant. Viewers can then click on the video which takes them to a virtual website of the restaurant's to apply. After they apply, Snapchat users are asked to submit a video along with their resume giving the process the name Snaplications. Teenagers found this process fun and easy eventually making Snaplications a very popular way for Snapchat users to interact with companies. Dobson reports that “Social media for recruitment can be easy to use and it's relatively cheap compared to the more traditional tool.” (2). Snaplications can also prove to be quicker. With more traditional applications, applicants are forced to apply through a lengthy application and then wait for the results. With Snaplications, applicants can just watch a video and respond with a video and resume. Although “companies have been using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to connect with the public for a number years, ... Snapchat is becoming a top app for people under 25 who use it several times each day.” (2). With companies now turning to Snapchat to recruit new employees, they are attracting the attention of the younger crowd by giving them a chance to express themselves through an application they love. Snaplications is now symbolic of pop culture.

Just as users can be exposed to recruitment through Snapchat, they can also become exposed to brand awareness making Snapchat beneficial to pop culture. Ryan Holmes, a journalist for the National Post, says, “Companies are finding creative ways to harness Snapchat, too Early adopters such as Taco Bell, Starbucks, W Hotels, and McDonald's combine zany artwork, text overlays and video cameos from Internet stars to delight followers.” (FP.5). Companies know that millions of people are using Snapchat, so they enclosed ways to get their attention via the app using video interfaces called Snap Ads. Snaps ads are short videos that appear between user video stories. Advertisers offer Snapchat users the opportunity to find out more about the product by clicking on the video or going to the actual website. Watching the ad videos give users an understanding of what the brand is offering urging them to buy the product. Also, companies are contributing to the various Snapchat filters for brand awareness. For example, in 2016, Starbucks turned heads after they launched a new delicious summer drink campaign for one of their delectable Frappuccinos. The campaign promo hit Snapchat and gave Starbuck drinkers the opportunity to use Starbucks festive lens of the beverage and show it out on their story or send it as a picture to their friends and family. Although advertisements are used on various social media applications, according to Holmes, Snapchat is “Silly, strangely addictive and genuinely enjoyable to use.” (FP.2). Snapchat is great at helping companies use brand awareness to attract the attention of users which is why it is a part of pop culture.

Snapchats fun way users can express themselves in how they engage with family and friends, how they follow and connect with celebrities while gathering the latest information, and how they become accustomed to recruitment and brand awareness puts Snapchat in the spotlight of pop culture. Unlike Facebook, Instagram, and other social media applications, Snapchat has a different approach to attract its teenage users making it unique to the digital world. With its number of participants continuing to grow, Snapchat is on the road to becoming one of the fastest growing social media applications among smartphone platforms. It’s no doubt Snapchat will continue to expand and could possibly become the number one social media application in the world.


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