I previously wrote a post entitled Build In Virality or Bust, positing that the only way to succeed with a consumer software business was to build virality into the application from the get-go.
Well The New York Times article How Snapchat, Often Overlooked, Transformed Social Networks, points out that sharing, the key driver for virality in social apps, was not part of Snapchat.
Snapchat’s “ephemeral” internet — which has since been imitated by lots of other companies, including, most recently, Instagram — did not just usher in a new idea for online privacy. It also altered what had once been considered a sacred law of online interaction: virality.
Every medium that has ever been popular online — from email to the web to social networks like Facebook — has been pervaded by things that are passed along from one user to another. This is not the case on Snapchat. Though Snapchat has introduced some limited means of forwarding people’s snaps, the short life of every snap means there is no obvious means for any single piece of content to become a viral hit within the app.
So while the article’s author, Farhad Manjoo, doesn’t really explain how Snapchat became so successful, he does make it clear that it wasn’t virality or even personalization – it was a sense of “authenticity”. Read his article to see how Snapchat took a very different, non-viral path to success.