If you've ever taken a look at the comments section of any article about Snapchat, you'll likely see a
group mob of people yelling about lack of revenue, "dick picks", instagram direct, and any other reason they can think of to disprove the possibility of Snapchat having any success in the future. People hate Snapchat. I think it's unfair, and way too early to be making such a call.
I'll break the problem down by the most common arguments and try my best to explain why I think they are wrong.
1. Lack of Revenue
Snapchat was launched in mid 2011. There wasn't even an Android version of the app until late 2012. It's user base and popularity didn't start to skyrocket until early 2013. That's only a year ago folks.
Remember when Facebook wasn't really advertising? People were saying the same exact thing. It's like déjà vu. I think most of us would consider Facebook and Twitter successful at this point, especially if you had a chance to take a look at Facebook's quarterly earnings report which came out today. Both of their strategies early on was to attract the user base, then monetize. I don't see any reason for Snapchat to deviate from this relatively established plan.
2. Launch of Instagram Direct
Some people seem to think that Snapchat's team was foolish not to accept the Facebook acquisition offer (I will admit it was a lot to turn down), and that they are now doomed with the launch of Instagram Direct. I'll take a quick second to remind everyone that already in 2013, Snapchat accounted for more picture shares than Instagram. I understand that the premise of Snapchat may imply more shares per user than on Instagram, but this is impressive.
In addition to this, the word on the streets is that Instagram direct use is pretty stagnant. I wasn't able to find any concrete evidence to support that though.
Obviously I don't see the majority of what's shared on Snapchat. But I have tons of friends that use Snapchat on a regular basis. I receive around 30 "snaps" a day, and not a single one of them so far has been a "dick pic." The way that I see it, is that Snapchat is enabling people to share their day, just as they would through twitter or Facebook, but in a visual, more intimate fashion. Inappropriate shares can't make up more than a tiny fraction of the content being shared on Snapchat.
With the launch of the Story feature, shared content has a more public channel to go through as well, where anyone who is friends with the sharer can view the snap(s) an unlimited amount of times for up to 24 hours. I think this helps us get a more accurate picture of the type of content being shared. It puts Snapchat as "private sharing first, public second." That's food for thought.
If Snapchat's name can be repaired, and no longer thought of as a way to "sext," advertisers could have real interest in Snapchat. It could have huge native advertising potential.
4. It's a fad
If I properly understand how people are using Snapchat, it's a new, easier way of communicating which is eating into time spent texting (just like WeChat, Line, etc). That's right, I think it's replacing texting. Since my circle of friends have started to become Snapchat users, the amount of texts I get has decreased. Right now Snapchat isn't perfectly suited for in-depth or even relatively lengthy text messaging. But for short messages, Snapchat seems to be taking the lead. Text based communication isn't going anywhere, and I can't imagine adding images to the equation is going to hurt.
In conclusion, it's way too early to be making definite calls, and the strong opinioned Snapchat haters have a tendency to be people who don't use it, haven't used it, and don't really know people who do. But so far the signs I'm seeing are promising. Of course, I could be completely wrong. For now, I'm not as doubtful as a lot of people seem to be.