Oh No! Grandma Is Using Snapchat!

“It’s kind of shocking.”

“Lmao I’m so done my friends parents got snapchat.”

“It’s weird.”

Those are just a few of the reactions of teens when learning that their parents and other “old” people are starting to use Snapchat, long the almost exclusive domain of the under-24 crowd.

But that is starting to change. According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, a recent comScore report declared that Snapchat is “breaking into the mainstream,” estimating that 38% of U.S. smartphone users ages 25 to 34 are on Snapchat, and 14% of those 35 or older. Three years ago, those numbers were 5% and 2%, respectively. That compares to about 69% of U.S. smartphone users age 18 to 24 using Snapchat, up from 24% in 2013.

Such change is inevitable, Snapchat is just following what is known as the product life cycle. The chart below offers a good representation of this cycle:

*image source:  http://andrew.treloar.net/research/publications/ifip99/

I would estimate that at this point, Snapchat has passed what is referred to as the chasm, an inflection point when a product goes from having customers  focused on technology and performance to having customers focused on solutions and convenience.

The 18-24 year olds who first used Snapchat were the technology enthusiasts followed by the early adopters and the visionaries. Snapchat has now moved on to the early majority, the older age groups as identified above.

Snapchat is not alone in this transition. Parents jumped on the Facebook bandwagon years after it was adopted by college students. Back in 2013, Fast Company reported that the fastest growing demographic on Twitter was the 55-64 year age bracket; having grown 79% since 2012.

It even happened to Apple with its iPhone, as shown by these commercials from Samsung where it claimed that the iPhone was no longer cool, since it was now used by “older” people.

But not only is such a transition inevitable, it’s necessary.

Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, which conducts a semiannual survey of teens’ social-media use, notes “In order to really get true growth that can be monetized, you’ve got to be appealing to more age groups which can kind of alienate the teens.”

At this stage, it’s ahrd to say if Snapchat can attract enough adults to transform itself into an Internet utility like Google is for search, Amazon is for shopping and Facebook is for social networking.

Snapchat, based in Venice, Calif., says it welcomes the influx of older users. “Our community enjoys having their parents on Snapchat because it’s a really fast and fun way to communicate,” a spokeswoman said. “We don’t have the public likes and comments that often make for awkward moments on traditional social media. It’s never been an issue,” she added.

I have a snapchat account, but have never posted anything to it, and have only looked at at the app for perhaps a total of five minutes in the past year.

Perhaps my opinion of Snapchat is still based on how I originally viewed the app – as a way for teenagers to share photos with their friends (photos that probably should not have been shared in the first place), while hiding such photos from their parents.

I’ve never been a fan of online anonymity or “keeping secrets”, and Snapchat, at least from my perspective, is an app that supports such behavior.

I realize I could be totally off base, so I think I need to spend some time checking out the app to see if there is a benefit to me of using it.

If it’s a way of adding one more follower to my blog, then I’m all in…



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