Snap what? Snapchat. What the hell is that? And why should I care? And what has it got to do with my sleep anyway?
We live in the age of social media
Whether you like it or not, we are living in the age of social media. New platforms appear on the market almost every month. Mind you, as the list below shows, a good number of the platforms we are used to have been around for quite a while now.
- Facebook: February 2004
- YouTube: February 2005
- Twitter: March 2006
- Pinterest: March 2010
- Instagram: October 2010
- Snapchat: September 2011
- Periscope: March 2015
Snapchat is one of the more recent additions to the fold. And perhaps the one that has gone ‘mainstream’ most recently. With over 100m daily active users and 65% or more of them generating content, it is vibrant. Perhaps not surprisingly, as of February 2016, there are 8 billion daily views of the content being pumped out on Snapchat.
So what is it and how does it work? Snapchat is an image messaging app. Perhaps its defining feature is that content disappears after 24 hours. In a bit more detail this is how it works:
- you take still photos or video clips of up to 10 seconds in length with your smartphone
- you can add text, emoji artwork and such like to your stills and you can apply filters to the videos to slow them down, speed them up or stylise them
- you then share the content with individuals you are connected with or as part of your ‘story’, which anyone can see
- your content lasts for 24 hours before it is automatically wiped
So why am I excited about Snapchat
I’m a generation X guy. Why am I turned on by this latest craze for Snapchat? Three primary reasons spring to mind.
Firstly, there is no denying the way we consume content is changing rapidly. Witness the rise and rise of Netflix, Amazon (Prime) Instant Video and other streaming video services. Not to mention YouTube with its 15 billion+ monthly views. That’s twice the number of people on planet earth. We are increasingly moving away from linear TV programming to watching when and where it suits us. On devices of our choice. On the move and not just at home. Social sharing platforms are adding to the vast array of content we consume on the go.
The second reason relates to personal creativity. Just as people like to consume content, so they also enjoy producing it. Don’t you love taking photos? How many pictures do you have on your phone at the moment I wonder? What about video clips? With the proliferation of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and such, so the volume and indeed quality of content out there is increasing. Snapchat makes the creative process pretty intuitive and a lot of fun.
Indeed, perhaps you agree that with SO much content to choose from, you are become a more discerning consumer of that content. You are looking for the thing that makes you laugh hardest, touches you the most or catches your eye in a different way. I certainly see that when I look at the responses I receive to content I publish.
The third reason is a more practical one for businesses. More specifically for those working in brand and marketing teams. You see, Snapchat has really broken through. And your audience may well be on there. If you are targetting those born between 1980 and 2000, the millenials or Generation Y,, then this is the platform for you. Around 70% users on Snapchat presently are millenials. As we all (begrudgingly) know, that generation is the most tech savvy to date and has spawned the likes of Mr. Zuckerberg himself, (he of Facebook fame.)
For the rest of us though, Snapchat is receiving a lot of attention from key influencers such as Gary Vaynerchuk, (his book #AskGaryVee is a really good read, I must say.) He is raving about the merits of the platform and whilst you may or may like his take, people are listening. Many brands pay between $250k and $750k for one of the coveted ‘Discover’ slots on the interface. Those slots sit right below your ‘My Story’ and the ‘Recent Updates’ section showing content from those you are connected with.
In this awesome article on Medium, Ryan Hanley presents a compelling case for marketers to use Snapchat in earnest.
On balance, the platform represents a wonderful opportunity to tap your creativity, grab attention and reach your audience with content that cuts through – so long as you invest some energy and time in tailoring your message to the platform.
So what has this got to do with sleep anyway?
The short version is, Snapchat introduces yet another ‘must look at’ app for you to use as you wind down from your busy day. And the thing is, lots of us do browse social networks right before we go to sleep. But we are probably doing ourselves more harm than good.
Years of scientific research has concluded that light has a noticeable impact on brain function, especially sleep. We fall asleep courtesy of a chemical called melatonin. Melatonin is light-sensitive; when your eyes detect light, melatonin production is suppressed, making it more difficult to nod off.
One study highlighted by the National Institute of Health concluded, “exposing healthy subjects to 30 minutes of 500 lux polychromatic blue light an hour before bedtime, in their natural home environment, delayed the onset of rapid eye movement sleep by 30 minutes.”
Thankfully, Apple’s recent release of iOS 9.3 introduced Night Shift mode, which allows you to alter the amount of blue light being emitted from your smartphone during the hours of darkness.
So, if you are going to add Snapchat to your growing list of social media apps on the smartphone, be sure to discipline yourself to either use Night Shift mode, (if you own an iPhone) or give yourself a cut-off point around 30 minutes prior to going to sleep and stop using the phone for consuming or creating content. Improve your sleep quality. It will make a lot of difference.
A useful tip for new Snapchat users
If you DO use Snapchat, make sure the last thing you do at night on the app is hit the three little dots to the right of your ‘Story’ and then click the save/download icon. That makes a copy of all your content from the previous 24 hour period and puts it onto your device. You can then repurpose that content on YouTube or a video blog if you have one. Note: you might like to tidy up your ‘story’ first and clear out clips you don’t want first.
So let’s do this
All you have to do is download the app for your device, sign in or create an account and then start adding people like me. It works like a dream if you simply scan this code with the app. Then you can follow my stories. See you there!