Snapchat Journalism

What is snapchat?


Snapchat is a social media network that works for smartphone and tablet. Users can communicate with photographs, video and text (but it’s rather known for sending video and photographs). Other than facebook and instagram, snapchat doesn’t save any content, but destroys it after 10 seconds or 24 hours. As a normal user it’s impossible to prepare or edit content professionally before sending it, you have to open the app and take your photos and videos with snapchat, you can’t upload anything for your snapstory. That’s why snapchat is a very spontaneous platform, unlike facebook, and therefore a challenge for companies and journals that want to take part in snapchat.



Snapchat was invented in 2010. The Stanford students Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy wanted to create a software but their first tries didn’t work out at all. Thanks to Reggie Brown who was another student in their fraternity the basic idea was born. He expressed that he wished he had never sent a picture to a friend. That’s how the idea of self-destroying pictures came up.

They split up into CTO (Murphy), CMO (Brown) and CEO (Spiegel) and began to create an app. Its name was Picaboo and on 13. July 2011 it was published in the AppStore. But at the end of the summer there were only 127 users.

One problem was that there was enough time to take a screenshot of the pictures before they were destroyed. They solved it through sending a message to the sender whenever a screenshot was taken. Moreover they had to rename the app because of a photo book company that prohibited the use of the name picaboo. Then the app was called Snapchat.

The success finally came when they noticed that mainly pupils were using it. The niece of Evan Spiegels mother established it in her school and so on and the user numbers suddenly grew drastically. Soon they needed bigger servers and were almost not able to realize the plans until they found an investor who learned about the app through his daughter. Since then Snapchat was able to grow and grow and was even able to refuse the offer of Mark Zuckerberg and survive the threat through his app „Poke“ which was basically a copy of Snapchat.

Thanks to many investors the team around Spiegel was able to develop the app further and further and make it really successful. For example the popular Snapchat stories exist since October 2013. Today the app has billions of users in the USA and is currently conquering other markets like Germany and is the new “thing” for young Smartphone users.


2011 July First available in the Appstore on 13th July 2011
few weeks later 127 Users
another few weeks later 1000 users, discovery of the main user group pupils
December 2241 users
2012 January 20.000 users
April 40.000 users

App cost more than 5000€ per month -> investor needed

Investment 485.000 US$

Company worth 4,25 million US$

November 500.000 users and 50 Mio snaps per day

Investment 5-8 Mio $

2013 More than 1 million users

Company worth 800 million

200 million snaps per day

3 month later 350 million snaps per day

Refuse to sell the app to Facebook for 3 billion or the chinese Tencent Holdings for 4 billion $.

2014 50–60 million active users

Everybody wanted to invest their money because of the constant growth

August Company worth 10 billion US$ after another investment
2015 May 100 million users per day, 65% send own snaps every day

Company shall be worth 16 billion US$

2016 June 150 million users per day

Snapchat users & target group

Even though it’s naive to believe that in times of surveillance everywhere nobody can see the content you send via Snapchat because it’s immediately destroyed, – for the users this promise is enough. And it’s mainly interesting for young people because they feel like they can do what they want on Snapchat without being caught.

In the United States most of the Snapchat users are between 18 and 24 years old (37%).  23% of the users are 13-17 years old and 26% are 25-34 years old. Only 12% of the users are older than 35 and only 2% are older than 55, which makes Snapchat a really successful possibility to reach young or middle-aged people.

There are no official numbers for germany yet, especially not about the target group. That’s why “onlinemarketingrockstars” asked a german Youtuber whos very active on Snapchat how many views her Snaps usually have. So they could at least get an overview about the user numbers. The youtuber “Dagi Bee” reported that her snaps are viewed by 150.000-170.000 people daily. (

According to Snapchat has more active users than Twitter in Germany. They found this out through checking the analyze tools, but they also cannot tell how old the people who mostly use it are. Apparently, Snapchat is used by 6.1% of the analyzed users and Twitter only by 2%. (

With the growing importance of Snapchat in Germany, we can hope that there will be official user numbers soon.

Possibilities for companies

Snapchat Discover

Since January 2015, Snapchat introduced the discover-function. Snapchat formed a commercial partnership with 15 different companies and gave them exclusive access to publish content. This content has a high quality because it’s much more complex. These companies are Refinery29, Tastemade, IGN, Mashable, BuzzFeed, DailyMail, Vice, Cosmopolitan, MTV, CNN, Fusion, People, Bleacher Report, National Geographic and Food Network. Unlike normal users, they can use a lot more functions, e. g. they can publish whole articles. But still, if the creativity of snapstories increases, the discover channels will lose their importance.

Snapchat Marketing

Why would someone use snapchat, when there’s still facebook and instagram? Well, instead of the others, snapchat content is a lot more authentic. It’s the perfect platform to document events and things that happen behind the scenes. It gives an impression of a really close experience that the watcher shares with the person or company that posts input. And every snap is noticed consciously, unlike facebook where you can just scroll down.


Now it’s possible to create and buy so-called geo-filter. It doesn’t matter if it’s for your wedding or a company, you can design a filter for snapchat and choose a location where this geo-filter appears.

Why should newspapers and magazines start using Snapchat now?

One reason is that those companies failed before to stay up to date with the development of new technologies, platforms and Social media. Up until now they were able to catch up and integrate the usage of Social Media channels like Facebook into their daily work. But by now, for example Facebook already loses significance amongst young people again, more and more close their accounts. Instead the Network has become quite a thing for their parents. Of course it’s still necessary to keep the account running to stay in touch with the readers who are on Facebook, but Facebook has totally lost its fascination and novalty value for young people.

But in conclusion this mainly means that those young people give their attention to something else. And it looks like Snapchat is this new thing.

And since it’s not enough to just catch up on trends all the time, newspapers and magazines have to participate in a trend while it’s still in progress. And through Snapchat they have the chance of gaining young users attention again to spread the name of their brand.

The next step is to figure out how to earn money with it.


Pro7 already used snapchat in September 2015 to document the final of “Got to dance”. They announced this two days ahead of time via their website, so the audience enough time to add their snapchat channel. Pro7 did this in a very authentic way. Jury-members, dancers, the costume designer and many more took part in this snapstory and helped to create a great behind-the-scenes video.

Example: H&M ran a paper chase via snapchat to let the followers find concert tickets (

Ashley Benson and others are doing a snapstory after they shot the last episode of “Pretty Little Liars”. (

Bento reports about the latest news (


hellobild, techinsider, nowthisnews und bento_de (Here will be content, someday!)

Hellobild: Weatherforecast, Slugrace Hilary/Trump,

Viviane Geppert, German TV journalist took over the snapchat channel “HelloBild” for a day. She showed the follower her daily routine, her dog and her job at RED tv magazine. There the follower could see behind the scenes and decide what happens in the next episode. In the evening she snapped at a press-event with other celebrities.

Ricardo Simonetti is a fashion blogger. He filmed for “HelloBild” at “New Face Award” and invited the watchers to follow him around.

How to find and be found on Snapchat?

It’s possible to find and add people on Snapchat via your contacts, via their Snapcode, their name or when they are near you and use the “Add people nearby-function”. But if you don’t want to share your contacts with the app or have no clue what the names of the Snapchatters are, it’s really not easy to find somebody on Snapchat. That’s especially bad for companies, because who is going to watch their Snaps if nobody knows how to find them?

Therefore the germans Philipp Steuer and Sven Giesen created “Snapgeist” ( The site contains a collaboration of useful information and even offers workshops for companies. And more importantly it lists the names of many Snapchatters from Germany and the USA. So it’s like a search engine for Snapchat. As a company you can put your name on the waiting list, so that you can be found through Snapgeist soon.

In conclusion, the site is a really good opportunity for companies, especially the beginners, to spread their Snapchat name and call attention to their account.


Strengths: What’s good, what are the strengths, where is snapchat right now?

  • App is still in the process of growing, user numbers increase daily

Opportunities: Which chances do we have, what can be improved, what’s snapchat capable of?

  • Different and still quite new form of communication
  • Great to get a “look behind the scenes”

Weaknesses: What’s difficult, what’s missing?

  • No space for complicated, deep journalism or reportages, Snapchat is more meaningful for entertainment

Threats: Where’s danger, what kind of difficulties will come, which risks?

  • There’s always the possibility that there soon will be another “hyped” app, then the users might lose interest and Snapchat would lose influence

by Lena Hofhansl, Nathalie Seger, Lena Joraschek, Ersin