How Snapchat Helped Short-Lived Content Thrive

When Snapchat launched in 2011, its success was based entirely on short-lived content (or short-form content). A picture that disappeared after ten seconds?! Who would want to use that app? And what was the point?

What began as baffling to some has become billions and although Snapchat experienced humble beginnings, it’s now one of the most popular social media apps out there, actually competing directly with Facebook and Instagram for users and ad revenue.

In the last six years, Snapchat has gone through some significant changes, but the short-lived content principle it is based on is stronger than ever.

What is it?

Short-lived content is exactly what it sounds like, it’s content that’s quickly produced, posted, and is only around for a short amount of time. It used to be flabbergasting to most marketers and even early adopters but vanishing content has quickly become a norm thanks, in most part to Snapchat.

Originally, Snapchat was used for fun and “in the moment” pictures that you sent to your friends and then once opened the pictures disappeared after 10 seconds. This is what most Snapchat users like about the app, that the pictures are all about what’s going on right now.

In 2013, Snapchat Stories was launched, which gave users the option to post videos or photos to your own “story” that stays live for 24 hours. It’s short-lived content, but it hangs around longer than just ten seconds.

The appeal of short-lived content

In August 2016, Instagram launched “Instagram Stories,” which is pretty similar to Snapchat stories: the photos or videos you post will only live on your story for 24 hours. They also rolled out Instagram Live in the last month or so, which (unlike Facebook Live videos,) disappear after the broadcast ends.

The appeal of short-lived content is simple: it’s fun, it’s fluid, and most important it’s not permanent (although yes, we know that screenshots still happen from time to time.)

Sending snaps to friends and to your story is all about living in the moment. Snapchat defines an ephemeral world, and that’s a huge appeal for Snapchat users. Instagram is quickly adapting this model of short-lived content and is starting to compete in a world that used to be solely ruled by Snapchat.

Instagram isn’t the only one, not only are consumers are jumping on short-lived content, bigger brands have gotten on board, too. Whether it’s John Mayer on Snapchat or Taco Bell creating its own taco lens, short-lived content is now part of a bigger marketing strategy, and unlike the content shared, it’s not going away anytime soon.