Snapchat has been around for 9 years, launching in 2011. The year that Game of Thrones premiered, Adele released Someone Like You and the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. What a year it was, eh?
To celebrate the social media platform’s birthday, we’re taking a look back at its history, the highlights and the features that changed social media as we know it.
Where it all began…
Ok ok, so we’re technically cheating here as in July 2011, Snapchat began its time as “Picaboo” (yeah we’re glad they changed their mind about that one too) before relaunching as Snapchat in September 2011.
The aim was to create a social media platform where content disappeared in 24 hours. Something we’re all familiar with now but wasn’t really the case pre-Snapchat.
In an interview in 2013, the founder said that “Snapchat changed that perception of deleting something as bad. Online typically you delete something if it’s bad or if it’s really embarrassing.” 
It quickly took off, especially with those at high school in the US, as you could send disappearing messages without snooping parents or shoulder-surfing teachers knowing anything at all.
That’s exactly why Snapchat has been successful for almost 10 years. In short, teenagers keep this platform alive. I’m sure many people reading this loved Snapchat yet outgrew it as they reached their 20s, only to be replaced by another wave of youngsters, desperate to maintain a snapstreak.
Snapchat’s first birthday
Just one year in, Snapchat had blown up. It moved into the Android market, was experiencing 50 million snaps per day and the one and only Mark Zuckerberg reportedly tried to buy the app for a cooool $3 billion…. which the owners of Snapchat turned down. A wise choice as, according to reports in 2017, it’s now estimated to be worth nearly $22 billion.  Wow.
All the years in between
In 2013 and 2014, Snapchat launched new features called Stories and Chat – now an integral part of the app. Stories let you post a series of snaps that could be viewed for up to 24 hours, something platforms like Instagram adopted later on in 2016.
Stories were a fantastic idea and paved the way for other social platforms in the years to come. And boy was it successful. By August 2014, 40% of 18 year olds in the US were using Snapchat daily. 
The innovations didn’t stop there. The launch of Discover opened up Snapchat for advertisers and top media companies. You were suddenly able to use a platform originally made for 24 hour disappearing images to get all the latest news. With a huge audience of teenagers, it gave the likes of Vox, Buzzfeed and even National Geographic a place to promote content.
Image credit: garyvaynerchuk.com
Undoubtedly one of the biggest Snapchat developments was the introduction of Lenses. Soon every person, their mum and their pet cat were shooting rainbows from their mouths, pouting in flower crowns and laughing with dog ears on. Iconic. With Instagram filters expanding by the day now, it’s pretty clear where the inspiration came from if you ask us…
Over the years a whole other host of updates including Snap Maps, Geofilters and the launch of Snapchat Advertising have made the platform what it is today.
What was a genius move, in our opinion, was the launch of Snapchat Streaks. They’re designed to be ongoing between two people, encouraging you to snap one another multiple times a day. Yeah, you heard right. They literally designed a feature that meant you had no choice but to constantly use the platform to avoid losing a streak. Very clever.
What’s next for Snapchat?
The rise of temporary, 24 hour content is a huge focus on all other social media platforms but Snapchat got there first. They’ve been at the forefront of a lot of social media developments over the last 9 years and their audience of teenagers means they have the perfect base of social-media obsessed followers to test new releases.
There’s a lot in the pipeline for Snapchat, but the launch of Snap Minis is really interesting. Essentially, small third-party apps that live in Chat, Minis let you order tickets, meditate and even share language translation cards. It seems that the future of Snapchat is to make it a platform with multi-uses (a similar route to the recent sticker updates on Instagram stories to allow you to buy gift cards or order food).
Image credit: Snapchat
Snapchat is not one to be missed so do not undermine its potential as part of your marketing strategy. The opportunity to use geo-targeted filters and advertising to Gen Z is ideal for a lot of brands and
Get in touch with us if you’re interested in how Snapchat could form part of your social media strategy at firstname.lastname@example.org.