Remember when you had a box of pictures that your mom threw out when you left for college? Or having to order double or even triple prints to share with your friends? Facebook solved those problems and has become one of the most recognizable brands on the planet as a result.
As Facebook rose, our most cherished moments (and many of our most mundane moments) were preserved for posterity, possibly surviving a nuclear war and an invasion by Martians. So now that we have come so far to preserve these precious moments (and pictures of our favorite entrees), why are we now enamored again with the temporariness of the likes of Snapchat?
Oh... you have never heard of Snapchat because you're older than 25? It's an app for your phone where you can send pictures and messages to your friends that automatically self-destruct from both your phone and theirs after viewing them for a maximum of 10 seconds (and also, hopefully, disappear from Snapchat's servers).
Mary Meeker, in her 2013 Internet Trends Report, notes the astounding growth of Snapchat as there are currently 150 million photos shared on it per day (3x more than Instagram). Wow. We all know that the temporary nature of the photos is perfect for sending naughty pictures or phrases to your wanna-be-loved ones with little risk of permanent damage to your reputation (or a lower Klout score, depending on how good you look), but what's driving this is more a retro push into the lands of yesteryear when everything you did wasn't recorded, wiretapped, taped, posted or shared for all times.
Maybe we have evolved from temporary memories to permanent records and now are easing back into a more balanced public/private outlook. Or maybe your broad social network will be on Facebook, the people you would give your house keys to on Path, and the person who you know won't be bored with your unposed raw selfies on Snapchat. Semi-public, semi-private, and "we would both be dead if these pictures got out."
If Snapchat and its soon-to-be everywhere clones survive the boom bust cycle that is the new world of mobile phone apps, I think it will be a sign that we are not OK with EVERYTHING being shared and pinned to our social resume until well past our last days on earth (in fact we never really were). Instead, we are going to compartmentalize. Its kind of like ATMs for cash, phone calls for a wire transfer and the bank branch or the internet for a mortgage application.
Different venues for different activities.
Don't believe me? Well this and more was up for debate at Stream Cannes a small group of 100 senior executives from across the advertising, media and technology industries who met together this week to look at future trends.
If thirty Chief Marketing Officers of top global brands discuss an idea, I'm listening. As it was, I was the one doing the talking. The topic? Snapchat...Yes Snapchat...Will Cause the Next Revolution: how social media is changing from merely magnifying world events to actually causing systemic change to global systems.
The jury is out on how quickly the rise of the temporary social post will become a way to subvert control by authorities and other entities that would otherwise monitor user interactions. But, at Klout we believe the same people behave differently on different social networks and Snapchat is the most recent example proving that innovation continues on the social web.