What do fanatical secrecy and flashy celebrities have in common? Snapchat. How has an app that is run by a company wrapped in mystery managed to woo famous people hungry for attention into their world characterized by ephemera and utter lack of information about the company’s vision for the future? That’s precisely the question we attempt to answer today.
Often compared to a cult led by uncommunicative Evan Spiegel, Snap is the kind of company in which employees are kept in the dark about everything that is not closely related to their everyday tasks, expect for a handful of senior staff members and Spiegel’s confidants. In the information age where you have to be in the know to stay ahead, and during the time in which CEOs are trying to be as relatable as possible, Spiegel has done the exact opposite with his staff – he’s as untouchable as the sun.
The most obvious reason for his tight-lipped act is the fear of important information finding its way to Snap’s competitors. However, there is another less apparent but just as significant explanation, and that is the fact the Snapchat is Spiegel’s project that he refuses to share with anybody else, including both its successes and its failures. All this concealment and withholding information explains the whole ‘disappearing within minutes’ kind of thing that Snapchat has going for it.
But how do celebrities fit into this concept? Simple. It is precisely the evanescent nature of Snapchat that famous people seem to eat up. Unlike Spiegel, whose sense of privacy is so real it borders on obsessive (which is possibly the understatement of the year), Snapchat also gives celebs a kind of ‘privacy’ they can’t get anywhere else. The fact remains that most of the really famous Snapchat users have celebrity Snapchat names that show no signs of them ever wanting to be out of the spotlight or even attempting to stop being the very center of attention, such as Kylie Jenner’s @KylizzleMyNizzl or Justin Bieber’s @RickTheSizzler. Be this as it may, they too run to Snapchat to showcase their true nature in addition to posting uber stylish stories of them partying and living the high life.
Every other social media outlet, including Snapchat’s fiercest competitors, Facebook and Instagram, feature posts from famous people that show perfection in every sense, from flawless hair and makeup, toned muscles and tight faces, beyond respectable collections of mansions, cars and clothes, to the kind of social circle worthy of the royal crown. However, when celebrities want to connect with their fans on a more ‘real’ and intimate level, they turn on their Snapchat to create stories of them making breakfast with messy hair wearing PJs or unwinding with friends, looking almost like that girl we see at the supermarket every Wednesday afternoon.
Another important factor in this relationship is that Snapchat likes to play hard to get. Every other platform showers famous people with huge endorsement and product placement deals, making sure that marketing gurus behind all those famous names using their app know how to widen their reach and maximize every post’s potential. Snapchat treats all its users equally. Well, almost equally. The only thing Snapchat has given celebrities since 2011 and the time it first popped up on our screens are emojis and “official stories”. In this way, Snapchat certainly recognizes its most popular users with huge followings, but other than recognition celebrities haven’t gotten much else from Spiegel and his crew.
Not only do millennials and post-millennials from across the globe applaud this approach, but superstars fully respect the fact that Snapchat wants to “keep it real”. On the other hand, bloggers, influencers and advertisers are having a very hard time when it comes to self and product promotion because Snapchat simply prefers organic rather than manufactured content, and doesn’t mind taking a huge risk by not stimulating the easiest source of income – ads.
In the world in which Facebook is trying to get as much information out of you as possible only to bombard you with “suggestions” on how to part with your money in a way you’d find most satisfactory, Snapchat doesn’t care about parting. It cares about connecting, even if it’s just for a brief moment in time.