Snapchat 2.0: What You Need to Know

In case you haven’t heard or noticed, Snapchat released a major update to its app this past Tuesday. In what is being called “Chat 2.0” in a blog post posted by the company, Snapchat has unveiled several new features to its app and essentially shifted its strategic focus as a company. I’m going to provide a run-down of the new features and then give my take on what this all means for Snapchat going forward.

2-snapcode-to-special-discover-channel

Scan this Snapcode in Snapchat for a quick video explaining the new features

NEW FEATURES:

Snapchat stories now advance automatically. This means the next story in your feed starts playing automatically once you finish watching someone’s story. Obviously this makes it more convenient to view multiple stories without having to waste precious seconds choosing another one, a move that encourages watching more stories.

Video and audio notes can now be sent in chat. Users can record and send each other short GIF-like video or audio clips. If the recipient taps the screen the videos can include audio as well. This allows for expressing personalized emotions or reactions that traditional text has a hard time getting across.

1-chat-screenVideo and audio calls can now be made even if the recipient isn’t actively chatting with you. This makes Snapchat act as more of a phone itself than just another messaging app.

Send camera roll photos during a video/audio call. The photos will be translucently displayed over the video call, allowing users to share pictures in the middle of a conversation.

Seamlessly transition between communication methods. Users can switch between video and audio calls, video and audio notes, stickers, and traditional text all within the same communication. This means users have plenty of options to choose the communication method most appropriate for the situation without having to leave the Snapchat app.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

When Snapchat first launched chat in May 2014, it was attempting to emulate how conversations worked in the real world. Instead of including read receipts and message history like other apps, Snapchat wanted to feel like you were in the same room as the person you were talking to. Messages disappeared after they were read and users could seamlessly transition between text and video calls when they were within the same chat. At the time, many saw this as an auxiliary feature designed to simply throw its hat in the ring with other messaging apps such as FB Messenger and WhatsApp. Their core service was still sending photos and short videos between friends.

With the launch of Chat 2.0, it’s clear Snapchat is attempting to become the premier messaging app. They are no longer following FB Messenger’s or WhatsApp’s lead; these new features are evolving the definition of what a messenger app is and forcing its competitors to now take a backseat. Snapchat’s goal when they originally introduced chat was to become the app that represented the closest thing to face-to-face communication. It’s hard to deny that these new features and the ability to seamlessly switch between them are another huge step in that direction.

Becoming the go-to messaging app has a number of implications. Growing its chat user base can obviously be a significant revenue generator for Snapchat since messaging apps are increasingly being called the next frontier in mobile advertising. Convincing the 60% of snapchatters who are currently between the ages of 13 and 24 that this is the only app they need to keep in touch with their friends will prove an even greater advantage over competitor companies going forward. Beyond simply growing its users, knowing more about them will allow for even more effective advertising as well.

Overall, I think the new features and strategic shift launched by Snapchat all but ends the conversation regarding whether they deserve to be talked about in the same vein as Facebook and Twitter. While I don’t necessarily enjoy Snapchat’s UI or think they do a very good job of explaining their new features, they’re definitely pushing the boundaries of what a messaging app exactly is. Can other social media companies imitate these features? Probably. Can they do it as well? I’m not sure. As tech writer Josh Constine perfectly stated in this video, I think Snapchat’s goal to be the live window into our friends’ worlds is increasingly making other social media platforms simply feel inauthentic and outdated.

Sources:

http://www.engadget.com/2016/03/29/snapchat-completely-revamps-its-feature-set-for-chat-2-0/

Snapchat seamlessly combines video, audio, GIFs, stickers in “Chat 2.0”

http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/29/11321150/snapchat-chat-redesign-stickers-audio-video-notes

https://www.snapchat.com/ads

 

7 comments

  1. I liked how your outlined the features and then analyzed what that means in snapchat’s greater business strategy. I wonder if it was a smart move to release so many features at once. I find it overwhelming but maybe this is how snapchat will pull ahead of the pack.

  2. ajsalcetti · ·

    Thanks for the summary. Not being a Snapchat user, it is always interesting to hear what evolutions and enhancements these other firms take to increase user base, interactivity, and ultimately to find ways to monetize users. I do think their ability to break out of the stereotype of just being a quick hitting few second clip that vanishes – used in promiscuous ways by teenagers or as joke posts to the majority – is key for their survival and a spot at the big boy table alongside Facebook. It’ll be interesting to see how these changes are received by the market and if they can create some distance between WhatsApp or FB Messenger.

  3. Wow, snapchat changes are a bit topic this week. Be sure to check out your colleagues posts too. I just posted that I bet the sequential stories is setting up the opportunity to serve ads down the line embedded in this feed.

  4. Being a new and infrequent Snapchat user, this post was very insightful. I find it interesting how the use of the app has evolved and that they’ve managed to maintain and grow their customer base through it all. Being that WhatsApp was so far ahead of the game in the messaging world, it’s interesting to see how these new capabilities have already been added to Snapchat and are being utilized by users. I’ll be interested to see how this impacts the success and customer base of other messaging apps.

  5. Great post! I liked your clear outline of all of the new features. I find it do interesting how Snapchat has evolved over the years, going from just an app that “erased” all your pictures to what it is today. Other than the automatically playing stories, I like the changes Snapchat 2.0 has brought, and I’m eager to see what will change and what will stay.

  6. Nice summary of all the updates! Snapchat is such an interesting platform – especially for younger generations. The kids I coach are so into their streaks with friends and obsessive about what goes in their stories. It really does seem like it’s their preferred messaging platform.

    It’s really interesting to see businesses try to figure out how they can use this very popular channel to connect with brands. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had someone at work ask about SnapChat and suggesting that we join because their kids are on it. Industries like beauty and fashion seem to have hit the ball out of the park with SnapChat (e.g. Fashion Week in New York), but for a health insurance like where I work, SnapChat probably isn’t in our future unless we start doing more events in the community.

  7. Great post, Justin! A great rundown of the new features, and a really interesting discussion about what it means for Snapchat’s positioning and messaging apps across the board. I totally agree that if anything, Snapchat’s recent activity fully substantiates it as a strong contender in the communication space. I think a lot of what they’ve been doing proves that they’re innovators leading change and disruption in the market, not wannabes in the trails of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. I’ve been really interested by recent innovations in the messaging space, and what seems like a shift toward a full-suite communication platform. You’re certainly not alone in complaining about Snapchat’s UI, but strategy and market-wise, it seems like they are headed in the right direction to better monetize and be as big a part of our lives as Facebook.

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