Snapchat CEO explains what makes his social network special

Evan spiegelAP Photo/Jae C. HongLet this guy tell you why millions of teens are addicted to his app.

What exactly is Snapchat?

You may have never used the app that’s quickly become one of the most popular social networks in the world, but you’ve probably heard of it.

Even if you are a daily Snapchat user, you’ll be interested in how its CEO Evan Spiegel just explained his app.

In a four-minute video posted today on Snapchat’s official YouTube channel, the 25-year-old Spiegel gives a brief overview of how smartphones have changed the way we share photos and how Snapchat fits into that trend. He also breaks down the app’s somewhat confusing layout.

Here are the key takways:

  • Photos have always been used to save important memories and life moments, but thanks to the advent of smartphone cameras, now they are used for talking. “Snapchat really has to do with the way photographs have changed,” according to Spiegel.
  • Photos used to be based on how we used desktop computers, so it was about “accumulation.” You’d take a bunch of photos on a camera, plug the camera into the computer, and upload them somewhere into an album.  Mobile phones enable us to have “instant expression,” says Spiegel. “This is important as it relates to identity… Instant expression says my identity is who I am right now. It says I’m the result of everything I’ve ever done, but I’m not really the accumulation of all that stuff.”
  • Snapchat is divided into three main screens. The app starts with the camera, because to begin a conversation you have to share a snap. It’s a call to action in the same way a word processor starts with a flashing cursor. When you swipe left from the camera, you see a list of all your conversations, and when you swipe to the right right, you see “stories,” or “basically a collection of snaps.”
  • The fact that snaps are organised into c hronological order is what makes Snapchat different from other social networks, says Spiegel. Your Facebook, for example, has your most recent activity first and you have to scroll back to see the beginning. Since Snapchat always starts at the beginning of a moment, it gives stories a familiar feeling.
  • What’s Snapchat about in one sentence? In the words of Spiegel, It’s all about talking with pictures and expressing yourself in the moment.”

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