As we have been learning about social media platforms, we have seen a variety of platforms with different functionalities. Let's now look at another app that has its roots in peer-to-peer messaging, Snapchat. Calling itself a new kind of camera, Snapchat was founded by three Stanford students, Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel, and Bobby Murphy as a place to, in their own words, share awkward selfies and funny photos with our friends. Seeing more and more apps offering ways to make photos prettier, they wanted to make photos more fun. Snapchat launched in 2011, and early users were high school students sending funny snaps back and forth to their friends. By October 2012, over one billion snaps had been shared. Today, Snapchat has over 229 million daily active users globally who share four billion snaps a day. 62% of users are below the age of 30. As for split in gender, Snapchat is equally used by men and women. Users spend about half an hour on Snapchat per day interacting with friends and content. Snapchat has expanded beyond just an individual messaging app. Users can also follow celebrities or brands, new sites or channels curated to include videos related to certain themes like DIY projects, magic or comedy. Snapchat has also added augmented reality into many of its lenses and filters, enhancing photos and videos with computer-generated elements. By the way, that is what augmented reality really refers to. It super imposes computer generated elements on top of reality. The result is a mix of what you can see with some added features, like in this image for instance. Snapchat reports that over 75% of their daily active users engage with augmented reality every day. But, what makes Snapchat so unique? It's the idea of impermanence. Snaps don't stick around and once they are viewed, they disappear. In some of their early blog posts, the founders expressed how they didn't want their users worrying about untagging themselves in photos from years ago before a job interview or fixing up photos to make them look perfect. They wanted to create a more authentic, real connection for their users. They also saw the uniqueness in what they called the ephemeral nature of human interaction. The interaction happens in the moment and doesn't leave a trace. Let's take a look into some of the fun and unique means users can use Snapchat. Like some social media platforms, users can interact with Snapchat solely as an observer. But, considering it was created to be a messaging app first, Snapchat is more fun with friends. Download the app and create an account. You can connect your phones contacts to your account so you can find friends quickly. You can also connect your Bitmoji account, which is a personalized character or avatar you can create through the Bitmoji app and use across a variety of platforms. Your bitmoji will appear as your avatar around Snapchat. The Snapchat home screen is simple with only has three options. Create a snap using the middle button, start a chat with one of your friends or a group of friends or discover content created by celebrities, organizations or brands. Once you connect with friends or group of friends, you can start chatting. Snapchat can be used as a text-based chat app but, it's been used in sending pictures back and forth to one another. You can start a photo from either the chat screen or the main screen. To begin creating a snap, navigate to the big circle button on the bottom of the screen. When you open Snapchat, it will default to creating a snap as well. You can simply take a photo and send it. But, Snapchat offers the ability to make your photo or video unique. Tap on the smiley face next to the photo button and a line of filters and lenses will pop up. They can be as simple as adding butterflies around your head or you can change your surroundings to look like sketch drawing. Snapchat's camera reads your facial features and is able to change them according to the filter. Try on glasses or dog ears, distort your smile or change your hair color. There are even filters that have games or questions you can interact with. Tap the "Explore" button to find more lenses and filters from simple polarizing filters for your camera to background effects, to turning yourself into a talking potato or fruit. There are even filters to utilize your Bitmoji and place them in your world through augmented reality or filters to add cartoon characters to your surroundings. Need some options? Tap the scan button to get suggested lenses based on items the camera sees, like animated food characters, but it captures food, or animated plans, but it captures the window. Also built into the scan feature is the ability to scan an item and a popup to Amazon will allow you to purchase. The scan feature also lets users discover augmented reality features when out and about in their city. Once you've taken your photo or video, you can add text in different forms and colors or hand-write your messages, you can add stickers to your snap, add links, and more. At this point, you can save your snap to access it later. Otherwise, you won't see it again. You can also choose to add the snap to your story, which your followers can see as a compilation of snaps you've created. Ready to send, hit "Send To", and pick your friends. But once you've sent it, it's gone, and once they view it, it disappears. Then you're onto the next snap. All these filters and lenses may seem silly but that's the point of Snapchat; having fun and being playful with friends. Half the fun is also playing around with the filters and augmented reality features for yourself. At the same time, Snapchat considers itself a camera company through which people can experience the world in different ways. Let's take a look at ways businesses can use Snapchat. With a worldwide user base of 229 million people, many of them teenagers, businesses should be looking at Snapchat as a way to connect with their audience, gain new audiences and provide unique contents they might not be able to on other platforms. The major ways businesses can utilize Snapchat is to standard advertising, providing lenses and filters to increase engagement, and creating unique content. Because lenses, filters and other augmented reality features provide a fun around creating snaps, businesses have discovered creative ways to engage followers through unique branded lenses and filters. These filters may be available on the app or customers can find Snapcodes at retailers or at events to unlock certain filters or lenses. L'oreal, the personal care company, was able to leverage Snapchat in Germany to engage potential buyers around the launch of a new men's line. Users were able to play with the lens to try out different products, styles and looks. In-store buyers were able to find Snapcode to unlock lenses so they could try products in the store. Coupled with in-app commercials, they were able to increase their brand awareness and had a successful product launch. Businesses can also create content for Snapchat as well and post stories, tutorial, and fun videos for their audiences. Because businesses can use stories to string together a series of snaps, they're not limited to one and own videos. Instead, new sites like The Wall Street Journal, for instance, can provide extended coverage of a new story through a series of snaps, or a brand like tasty can do a series related to one food product like ice cream. Businesses can advertise on Snapchat through its ads manager, where they can create different types of ads and target them to different users. Businesses will often run campaigns in which they combine the use of filters with ads like Domino's Pizza in Norway for their new bigger, better campaign, posting comedic commercials showing that pizzas were now almost too big to carry. Combined with Domino's filters, users could share with their friends. The campaign was a success to the extent that the head of sales and marketing was surprised at how many filters were used. Another company that used Snapchat in a unique way is Hopper, an airline booking app. They targeted Snapchat users based on location, door Snapchat users that lived near airports, and offered advertise deals based on the city of the Snapchatter. While their ads were simple, they were hyper tailored to specific markets, where they were able to gain new customers. As you can see, Snapchat holds its own unique place in the world of social media platforms. It can be used as a more traditional social media platform, where users can follow the contents of celebrities, organizations, or brands, but above all, it's a way for friends to connect in a fun, zany and playful fashion. Next stop in our exploration of social media platforms is Twitter.