Snapchat Away From the Family’s Gaze?

Snapchat & The Indian Millennials

It’s Saturday evening in Delhi’s Akshara Theatre. The play is about to start, when a squeaky, adolescent voice comes from the back row: “Hey look here, I am creating the story of this play on Snapchat.” Non-millennials in the audience, like me, wondered what, just what the girl meant? Talking about ‘creating’ the story of the play even before it had begun…

That was months ago. Today, I have Snapchat on my phone.  But I still don’t use it much. Maybe most non-millennials don’t. Maybe we find the app too complex to use. Maybe we don’t know what content to share. Maybe our friends are not using it…

Snapchat Logo


While it’s very easy to use, the real challenge for non-millennials is to know what do you use Snapchat for.


All of those could be possible reasons why we, you and I, are not regulars on Snapchat. But the truth is much simpler. The app is easy to use; the real challenge lies in figuring out what to use it for? Why do you use it? And what content can you create?

All of those could be possible reasons why we, you and I, are not regulars on Snapchat. But the truth is much simpler. The app is easy to use; the real challenge lies in figuring out what to use it for? Why do you use it? And what content can you create?

Ask the millennials and they would find these questions no-brainers. They use Snapchat to create engaging content rather intuitively and almost effortlessly. Taking zillions of selfies they are creating picture stories on this photo messaging app that’s become a global phenomenon.

With over a 150 million active users daily as reported by a Bloomberg story, Snapchat is now a large brand worth $18 billion today. Bloomberg claims that Snapchat has passed Twitter in its daily usage. Globally brands have been experimenting advertising on the app, created by 26-year-old Evan Spiegel, since October 2015. In India, however, it is an underleveraged marketing opportunity for brands.

To understand Snapchat, the self-destructing message app that’s become a phenomenon, we did a dipstick with a 100-odd millennials in Delhi. What do they use Snapchat for and why?  Here’s what we came up with.

Insights and results of the survey

A short film on the results of the survey is here for a quick tour:

Following the global trend, Snapchat is the fourth most used social media platform for these 16-25 year olds in Delhi.

  1. 70% of them are Snapchat users. Most of them use it to engage with their like-minded group of friends.
  2. Snapchat is their virtual hangout zone. They enjoy their freedom and space away from the gaze of their parents and overly enthusiastic and snoopy relatives. 40% of them use it more because their parents and relatives aren’t on it.
  3. Facebook and other platforms are too public. They love it that the pictorial content that they generate is ephemeral; it dies in 24 hours. As Prerna, a Delhi University student, puts it: “If my friends really want to view what I have shared, they will see it in less than a few hours anyway.”
  4. 47% of them used it because it’s a “cool and trendy thing” to do. There are more than one million selfies shared on social media daily and it is growing perhaps fastest on Snapchat.
  5. Almost 34% of the Snapchat users said they use it for clicking selfies. (Almost 35% of the selfies are shared between Snapchat, WhatsApp and Pinterest. Facebook still leads globally with a 48% selfie share.)
  6. 69% of the users said that they use it more than twice a day at least. Since it is a more personal tool for them, they can even take “Pyjama Selfies” as they don’t care here about how they look – it’s about being funny, entertaining, being yourself and natural on Snapchat. Some even take a good morning and a good night selfie regularly.

An interesting aside here. India is fast catching up with worldwide selfie trends. There is a startup in Kolkata with India’s very own selfie app called the TrendieApp (available already on PlayStore and AppStore) that lets brands engage with this audience in a fun and rewarding format. Millennials can earn while they click selfies by choosing the bright and smart brand templates or filters and sharing their selfies/pictures on their other social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Letting Brands Engage With Millennials




TrendieApp lets brands engage with the Millennials in a fun and rewarding format.





As many as 60 per cent of Snapchat users are 13 to 24 year olds. Snapchat now arguably holds the claim for being the fastest growing digital marketing tool for the gang of millennials.   It was only two years ago that Snapchat opened itself as an advertising option for brands. Universal Pictures’ Ouija goes down in the history of social media marketing as Snapchat’s first paid advertising. It is said that the LA based company had asked brands for almost Rs. 4.5 crore ($750,000) for sponsorships.

According to researcher L2’s latest report, three product sectors—activewear (led by Nike), CPGs (led by Little Debbie and Pepsi) and consumer electronics (topped by GE Appliances)—have accounted for 57 percent of all ads on Snapchat Discover, its channel for publishers, from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15.

Snapchat as an advertising option for brands



It was only two years ago that Snapchat opened itself as an advertising option for brands.



Looking ahead in India

The greatest challenge for Snapchat advertisers will be to keep the Snapchat content as personal as it is today. That will also be the biggest strength of successful storytellers, or should we say entertainers or infotainers.

One of the biggest strengths of Snapchat is that it entirely reflects the behaviour of its core users. Its core philosophy matches the digitally native demographic. This crowd did not discover social media in high school or college. It understands how and what they want to create, share and consume.

All stories combined, public and private, attract more than a billion views on an active day. It may be much more today considering this data is few months old.

While Indian agencies and brand managers are still figuring out how and what to do on Snapchat, some very creative freelancers and startups are getting ready for the opportunity. It could also mean some early career break for the college Snapchat star.

As the Snapchat phenomenon grows in India, it is developing its own distinct. You and I may not be able to relate to its dynamics. Let’s leave it to the millennials and let’s let them enjoy Snapchat unhindered. As Vipul Goyal of The Viral Fever put it in an article in The Indian Express recently: “The joke is on us if a Snapchat video is treated like a national emergency”. Radhika Vaz, the stand up artist said, “It’s like a 15-year-old boy who has found a new toy, and is having fun.”

The same Indian Express article also quotes Varun Thakur, another stand up comic, saying: “In this age of social media, every platform has a different approach, and Snapchat is just pointless and stupid fun. It’s irreverent and shouldn’t be taken seriously at all”.

Recently one of Snapchat’s new investors, perhaps hit the nail on the head, saying: “The temporary nature of the photo or video often creates a sense of excitement and an urgency of consumption that is rare in this era of information overload.”

Spiegel himself explains the lure of Snapchat in a You Tube video: “Historically photographs have been used to save really important memories, major life moments, but today, with the advent of the mobile phone and the connected camera, pictures are being used for talking. Now photographs are really used for talking, that’s why people are taking and sending so many photos on Snapchat.”

That’s the point, seriously.

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