The Language of Gen Z: Snapchat

Posted by: Caleb Ledbetter

Continuing our series on how Gen Z communicates (check out this one about Emojis), let’s talk about Snapchat. With 3.5 billions snaps sent a day (as of 2017), your brand can’t afford to ignore one of Gen Z’s favorite ways to communicate.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a social media messaging app, created in 2011 and coming into popularity in late in 2012. In its simplest form, Snapchat allows its users to take a picture, add text, and send it to their friends. But it’s all of the bonus features that make Snapchat special. To improve their image, users can add filters, draw, change the text color, add emojis, and more. Snapchat also supports video, group  threads, keeps track of messaging streaks, and makes it easy to send to more than one person.

A key feature of Snapchat is that the messages are temporary. Senders can choose how long they want the image to be viewed, and when time is up, the message is gone forever.

Snapchat also supports “stories” which stay up for 24 hours and play chronologically. Users have access to the stories of their friends, as well as ad supported content from brands on the “Discover” page.


How is Snapchat Used?

Real Time Communication

Gen Z has different etiquette for different social media. Snapchat is used for the right now. In face to face conversations, people say something once and then it’s gone. With most social media, anything you post stays online forever. But temporary messages relieve the pressure to always be proper and always look perfect. Consequently, a conversation with a friend on Snapchat feels more like actually being present with them than most other social media.

Authentic Sharing

Snapchat’s stories allow users to post throughout the day, creating almost a highlight reel of the day. Watching a story feels like being there with the person who posted it, experiencing the same events they were, even when they may be hundreds of miles away. Because users are free to be authentic, Snapchat feels more personal than other social media.


Your Brand Should

Use It

Gen Z uses Snapchat more frequently than any other generation. A 2018 Pew survey found that among teens, more use Snapchat (69%)  than Facebook (51%). More strikingly, a leading 35% said they use Snapchat most often of all social media. If your brand wants to reach Gen Z, Snapchat is the place to be.


Snapchat is among the most popular online platforms among teens.

Use It Well

That being said, there is a right way to go about promoting your brand on Snapchat. As always, be sure to stick to your brand’s editorial authority in what you speak about, but be willing to speak in a different tone than you would in other media. Share your employees point of view like Cisco did. Turn the viewer into your product like Taco Bell. Fully use the platform in unique ways like Gen Z does, and you’ll be rewarded.



Your Brand Shouldn’t

Treat Snapchat like Facebook

Or like any other media. Snapchat is its own animal, and content that works on TV, Facebook, and Instagram is just going to feel out of place on Snapchat. Use Snapchat like Gen Z does. Authentic, personable content will serve your brand better than high-budget, polished work.

Believe the Naysayers

In January 2018, Snapchat rolled out a redesign which has sparked some negative buzz, including a Kylie Jenner Tweet which many tie to a drop in stocks. While there certainly are some concerns that need to be addressed, this is a bump in the road, not an omen. As we’ve already mentioned, Snapchat still reaches Gen Z unlike any other platform.


Final Thoughts

Snapchat serves a unique purpose for Gen Z. It allows them to stay connected and present with their friends in a very real way, in contrast to the superficial nature of other social media. If your brand aims to make a personal connection with Gen Z, speak to them through the personal social media, Snapchat.

About Caleb Ledbetter

Caleb Ledbetter believes smart thinking can solve any problem, and is dedicated to help brands use more of it. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Communications in Advertising with a Creative Concentration from the University...See Caleb's full bio.