Snapchat had humble enough beginnings, beta testing its software in California High schools in 2011-2012. During this time period they grew from 3000-30000 active users.
In order to understand the growth of Snapchat, you need to think back to what it was like when you were a teenager.
Between the ages of 12-17, (the initial demographic of early Snapchat adopters), most people go through a rebellious phase.
They look at the world of their parents, of their older siblings – people they formerly idolized and copied – and say “they’re old“. They want something that is just for themselves – a door they can close, a little privacy for the first time in their life.
They want to be free to experiment. To try new hair colors. New clothing. New friends.
And they want to share this with their trusted group – behind closed doors.
What they had at the time was Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – all public tools where when you post things, they stay there for the world to see, comment on, share – potentially devastating for someone going through this period in their life.
Along comes Snapchat.
No follower counts.
You can take a quick picture, add your text, be silly, and send it on to your best friend.
Snapchat is mobile equivalent of staying up all night talking on the telephone, or having a slumber party. Or passing notes in class.
And you get to do it all the time!!!!
This gave them the initial traction and the ability to refine features based on that demographic, as the teenage crowd is an inordinately large market. By 2013, they were up to 36 million users, with 400 million “snaps” per day being sent.
And then, in 2014 and 2015, a few things happened in quick succession that would cause their growth to explode:
Snapchat, up until this point, was a passive “message board.” You could send someone a Snap, and they could see it and choose to send you something, or not. However, there was no real live interaction.
When Snapchat released the ability to create a truly private live chat between you and another Snapchat user, this made them a major competitor to the popular WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and every other messaging platform that people around the world use to communicate with each other VOIP.
You had the added bonus that these conversations were not being tracked – this was Snapchat, after all.
Suddenly, the app for kids had a feature that adults wanted to use, too.
Snapchat in the News
Silicon Valley is an ecosystem of its own, and has its own news that early adopters and tech-type people tend to read. However, sometimes a company does something so egregious that it makes the regular news – the stuff that everyone, even the people who don’t care about technology or apps hears about.
In 2014, Snapchat was one of those companies. Their CEO had written some emails when he was in college that were leaked and major news outlets decided that he should be made an example of.
Suddenly, many people who had never heard of him or Snapchat were like “Hmm, what’s this thing they are talking about? It must be important if it’s on the news…”
If that wasn’t enough, this was followed up soon after by a data breach in one of the applications utilizing their API. Rather than losing them a significant number of users, I surmise it increased awareness of the company.
The company has a long history of making tweaks to the product to make it more user friendly. In 2014, it added Discover to help people find Stories from popular brands (yes, everyone knows they are ads, but you actually have to choose to go to them rather than being bombarded with them.) they created a streamlined timeline view for your Stories. They created push notifications. And they tipped it off by removing tap-and-Hold.
All of these things are important usability fixes that go a long way to bring in more users.
All the while, Snapchat has not lost its core mentality. It is a place where people can go to be free to express themselves without fear of repercussion.
Teens glommed on to that right away. The rest of the world is catching up.
Originally Posted: https://www.quora.com/What-specific-factors-led-to-Snapchats-explosive-growth-post-early-traction-2013-14
Originally Posted On: 2016-02-14