My Fleeting Relationship...with Snapchat

I have to admit something…I don’t understand Snapchat.  I can only find one friend on it, and I’m not clear why I should follow CNN, MTV and the Daily Mail on Snapchat as opposed to the ways I currently follow them – on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever platform has just become popular in the past five minutes, while I have been typing instead of swiping.  Not to mention that my husband is convinced that I have joined Snapchat to have an illicit affair (no dear, that’s Ashley Madison).  Extramarital activities aside, I’m not exactly clear why the contents of my messages are so controversial that they need to figuratively combust in 10 seconds. 

But let’s be honest, Snapchat is doing fine without my patronage.  So, really my lack of affinity for Snapchat is more about me, and less about them.  I wouldn’t be that worried if I didn’t consider staying culturally relevant as part of my job description.

One of my favorite expressions is that Products become Brands when we build a relationship with them.  My job, as I see it, is to act as a facilitator and enable consumers to build relationships with brands that can add value to their lives.  I use the word value liberally – it might mean the social currency associated with having the latest phone first, the confidence that comes when you find the right lipstick (I don’t care if you don’t think I’m a feminist – it’s true!) or simply the gift of saving someone the annoyance of having to do the laundry twice because the detergent got the stains out the first time.

I broker public relationships between people and brands, and part of being able to do that is being attuned to the cultural conversation, and understanding the tools and technologies that people use to receive and share information.  Which brings me right back to Snapchat - If I don’t appreciate, and literally can’t use, an app that millions of people are using to communicate, then am I limited in my ability to do my job?  Isn’t staying relevant part of the job description?  So, short of retiring while in my thirties, what am I supposed to do?

As an attempt to rationalize my pay check, I return to the idea of public relationships, and remind myself that my job isn’t to be the consumer – it is to be a broker, an enabler, a facilitator.  With this is mind, I would argue that I don’t need to use or love every social platform that gets featured in Tech Crunch.  What I do need to do is be relentlessly curious and constantly explore what’s now, and seek out what’s next.  My job is to listen, learn, ask, argue, sign up, sign in, test and try.  Admittedly sometimes I will try…and fail.  Fail to understand what makes the latest show on Netflix funny, why a certain celebrity is desirable, or why an app is all the rage.  But then all I need to do is log out, and sign up for the next app, platform or network to hit my phone.  So, I would argue that to be relevant I don’t need to mindlessly mimic the behavior of the target consumer, but I do need to be curious enough to seek to understand her…amiright?  No, actually, am I right – because I’m still not totally sure.

So, Snapchat, enjoy your 10 seconds of fame (and your $20billion valuation), I’m in the business of building longer term relationships.


Avra Lorrimer

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search