The Tipping Point of Snapchat and Instagram

On my way home from a mini vacation to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware I listened to the audiobook of Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It is fantastic. I thought Outliers was amazing but Tipping Point may top it. While listening to several different stories and psychological reasons for a product or service reaching a “tipping point” I could only think of Snapchat and Instagram. These products have obviously tipped but how did they get to that point?

Towards the end of Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell discusses the importance of the numbers seven and 150. He explains the human brain can really only remember “seven” of something. That is the reason United States telephone numbers are seven digits. There is a reason the book is titled “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. The number seven is used a lot and this is not mere coincidence. The number 150 is explained as the number in which anything larger and the message becomes white noise. Gladwell points out several villages and communities where the population reached 150 before major problems started to occur.

I thought about this in terms of the people you follow or “friend” on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and any other website. When you first start on these social networks they are all kinds of fun because you are not inundated with information. You like follow around, wait for it, seven people when you first start a social network. Malcolm Gladwell referenced email in the 1990s. We would get home and look forward to checking our email. We would then reach three or four emails from close friends and compose 2000 word replies. Today, we have 63 emails and cannot write more than a sentence or two. Information overload has made email less important.

This only confirms my thoughts that Snapchat is going to be the social network of choice in the near future. The fact that you don’t want to “follow” or “friend” as many people as possible makes it feel small and isolated. You only follow and snap close friends. I did a quick survey to my large Snapchat following. Most of them are only following between 30 and 50 people. A select few are following around 100 Snapchat users but no one said more than 125. This is the exact opposite of Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram. Snapchat is the community or village of 150 or less while the other social networks are the towns that have way too high of a population.

So, when and why exactly did Snapchat and Instagram hit their Tipping Point? When the mavens or socialites start talking about a product it often tips. Instagram was tipped when celebrities and big names started to post pictures of themselves. Snapchat tipped when college students all over the United States started to tell people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to “snap them”. I remember seeing these types of posts around October 2012. Shortly thereafter I downloaded the Snapchat app and the rest is history.

What makes Snapchat appealing is the fact that I have had the app since late 2012 and I still have not accumulated more than a dozen friends. They are all close friends that I know “in real life” (IRL) and are an important part of my everyday activities. After listening to Tipping Point I am convinced Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will lose power simply because there is too much noise. It will become telemarketing and I think we all know where that went.

Even the most successful doctors, lawyers and orthodontists¬†are now using Snapchat to show their everyday lives. It is safe to say that this app is going to be the future of marketing even though Snapchat doesn’t want you marketing on their product.

I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, follow me on Snapchat! I can’t promise I will follow you back but you will get to enjoy some very interesting stories. You may even get some free stuff or have the opportunity to enter a few contests. The Snapchat name is jessewojdylo and here is the QR code.


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