UPDATE: Snapchat has removed best friends in January 2015. Much more here.
Time and again I hear stories about young couples fighting over Snapchat Best Friends. For those that may not know, Snapchat shows the 3, 5 or 7 best friends of a user. These “best friends” are determined by the number of times a snap, or photo, is sent to another user. At this point, December 2014, there is no way to remove or hide Snapchat best friends. To say this has caused drama is to state that the sky is blue and the state of Kentucky loves basketball. In fact, here is an entire article on the drama that is caused by Snapchat Best Friends.
When I first started using Snapchat, I was interested to see how it affected communication. It had to be a step above texting but a step below face to face conversation, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. While you do get to see the face of the sender of the snap you are still missing a lot of the context of the conversation. After reading the book Talk Like Ted by Carmen Gallo I learned that almost 80% of conversation is deciphered through body language and tone. Unfortunately, that is not available with texting, snapchatting, facebooking, or whatever form of communication the younger generation is using.
For about three months I used Snapchat to communicate with my younger friends. Like all other snapchatters I quickly found out that my friends were checking up on me through my best friends list. I have absolutely nothing to hide in my life but I also know that “social media” or “internet drama” is a complete waste of time. I deleted Facebook over four years ago because of the drama that was caused. After the first person asked me about my “Best Friends” I immediately stopped sending snaps. In fact, it has been well over nine months since I have sent anyone a snap photo.
The fact that Snapchat Best Friends causes so much drama I am left to ask, “Why in the hell did they create this feature in the first place?” Honestly, what does the Snapchat Best Friend feature actually do to make the product better? I want a single answer; just one. I have thought long and hard and have come up with nothing. If users have loathed this part of the product for so long why isn’t there an option to turn it off? It would be as easy as adding an on/off tab in the settings of the app.
With Snapchat being valued at over $10 billion you are telling me they cannot find a way to turn off Best Friends? I guess we will have to wait until 2015 to see if there are any improvements on this front. For the time being, I am certain we will hear of relationships problems brewing from the Snapchat Best Friend feature. Unfortunately, the younger social media user base does not have the maturity to simply stop using a product that is causing problems in their lives. In fact, they are now thriving on the drama.
I digress. Snapchat is, without a doubt, a force to be reckoned with in the social media space. That said, there are some things that are being done at Snapchat that could cause huge problems down the road. I would imagine Snapcash is not the resounding success most people thought it would be. Also, the promotion of heavy drinking at college football tailgates is not the ideal visual for a user base that tends to be in middle and high school. I could be wrong.
Ultimately, Snapchat’s success will depend on the loyalty of the user base. Time and again Facebook has failed to challenge Snapchat in the ephemeral photo space. That does not mean a competitor is not waiting to snatch up this extremely fickle demographic. I have watched a few sponsored Snapchat stories which is where they are making their money. That said, I had no desire to sprint out and make a purchase. I would imagine a 15 year old girl would not have the disposable income to make a huge purchase so it becomes a numbers game for Snapchat. How many cans or bottles of Mountain Dew can be sold from a sponsored story? Is it enough to pay Snapchat for this ad?
Remember that it took Facebook five years to begin the monetization process. Snapchat is just over three years old and many have expressed the executives are getting greedy with products like Snapcash. In the end, Snapchat needs to find a way to please its users and the first step may be removing or hiding Snapchat Best Friends.