Welcome to the Big Leagues Snapchat: Hope You Survive the Experience

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Snapchat is making moves to join the social media big leagues, adding  great new features. Can they survive the pitfalls that have landed their predecessors in the social graveyard? Or will they end up as a social zombie?

 The lifecycle of a social media service generally goes something like this:

  1. Teens become early adopters.
  2. Trend-setting urban twenty somethings start using the service.
  3. Older suburbanites (moms, dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) get on board.
  4. Teens abandon the site so their parents won’t see what they post online.
  5. The site becomes a zombie that continues to exist with a rump of its former users (think MySpace).

Now every once in awhile, a site like Facebook manages to become truly integral to our way of life and manages to avoid the last part of this cycle. However, the internet is littered with the corpses of social sites that have gone through this process and now shamble along in various states of decay.

Kids love Snapchat. Will they still love it when their parents start using it?

Popular photo messaging app Snapchat is currently trying to make the leap from step 2 of this cycle to step 3, and then theoretically they will try to avoid the pitfalls of later steps. In order to do this, they are beefing up what you can do with their service. Last week, Snapchat announced that they are adding text and video messaging to their service. By adding these features, Snapchat looks to consolidate their current user base of teens and twenty-somethings before moving onto other (older) markets.

The question becomes: Will Snapchat fall into the trap that so many other social-services fell into? Will Snapchat be a Facebook or a Friendster?

Snapchat has the makings of a social media survivor. Unlike many of its predecessors, Snapchat is built around sharing content with only a select few users. This means that even if it takes off with older users, teens can still keep their text, photo, and video content private. The main reason teens leave social sites is to avoid the glaring eyes of their parents. If their parents are incapable of seeing what kids are doing on a site, then theoretically, there’s no reason for those teens to leave.

How can brands potentially harness the power of Snapchat? We spoke with Guillaume Lelait, VP of Fetch North America to find out.