Please, Oh, Please Be My Snapchat Friend: A Confession, And An Opportunity

One of the hardest things about being a writer/consultant in digital with some -- ahem -- experience, is that when new social platforms emerge, you want to go play on them, but there’s no one you know who wants to play on them too. It’s strange. You read about these platforms, write about them and analyze them all day long, but ultimately, you begin to feel like someone who is in the cable TV industry who doesn’t have cable.

Only in social, it’s much harder than calling up your local cable provider and signing on. You can join all of the social channels you want, from Snapchat to WhatsApp, YikYak to Whisper, but if there’s no one you know to connect to, it isn’t worth much.

The first time I encountered this conundrum was back in February 2007. I was writing a feature about Facebook for another ad trade, and so I joined, only to find it was inhabited by college and high school students. Demographically speaking, I could have qualified as a cougar. I sure felt like one, a Stalker Mom who ends up being the subject of a bad movie on Lifetime.

It wasn’t until I asked readers of this column to friend me -- which was exactly a year later -- that I started to have a real Facebook experience. My early Twitter experiences, which date from roughly the same time, were the same.

And now I find I’m back in the same place with the raft of newer platforms, that, like those once were, aren’t actually chockful of people I know. Officially speaking, I’m on WhatsApp and Snapchat -- and I could’ve sworn I signed up for Line, too, but I can’t find it anymore on my phone. However, the truth is, that in one way or another, my accounts are graveyards. Yes, Snapchat dutifully ported my social graph from elsewhere to help me find a few friends, but it’s been months now, and none of them has sent me anything. And McDonald’s, my first Snapchat “friend,” has gone silent.

Same with WhatsApp. Plenty of friends of mine have that little message by their WhatsApp profile that says, “Hey, there! I am using WhatsApp.” But it’s a lie! They may have signed up for WhatsApp, but they sure aren’t using it -- at least not with me.

But while some of you can corral your officemates into joining and experimenting with these platforms, like a little cyber-gang, for me -- and many other work-at-home types -- that’s impossible. My principal daytime companion is my cat, Dustin, and even if he could type, he’s just not very social, just like Sergey Brin. (You don’t make that many friends when your hobby is killing birds.)

So it’s time once again to ask readers of the Social Media Insider to join me in exploring a few platforms together, at least until it becomes commonplace for Soccer Moms to use Snapchat, or my next-door neighbor and I to converse on WhatsApp. (While I’m at it, my Instagram account is a little pitiful, too.)

There will be several rules of engagement:

1.     All content must be SFSM (safe for Soccer Moms -- my ten-year-old’s fascination with my phone is a little disturbing).
2.     You can’t just join the platform. You have to actually participate in it.
3.     If you discover an advertiser using it, let the rest of the group know.
4.     No trolls allowed -- not even the plastic ones with the bright orange hair that sticks straight up on their heads.

To have some control over the process, here is how we’ll proceed: Message me via the MediaPost platform (you have to be a MediaPost member to do so, but it’s free!). Then, suggest what platforms you’d really like to experiment with, so we get some kind of consensus.  And then we’ll all friend and follow each other, and the fun will commence! (As will more Social Media Insider column ideas.) 

God! What did I just get myself into?

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7 comments about "Please, Oh, Please Be My Snapchat Friend: A Confession, And An Opportunity ".
  1. Lizz Gunnufsen from Local Government , May 30, 2014 at 3:27 p.m.
    Catharine, I know exactly what you mean. Voycee was my last lonely experiment. I'm up for joining a group of people like you described, but I don't see a place here to message you.
  2. Julie Joseph from SIlverpop , June 1, 2014 at 6:51 a.m.
    I'm also happy to join in. I also use Google+ which I can recommend for social networking too! (plus.google.com/+theVirtualMarketeerCoUK
  3. Cathy Taylor from MediaPost , June 2, 2014 at 10:01 a.m.
    Hi all, I'll be in touch soon! Cathy
  4. D. ONeill from 44 , June 2, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.
    Could possibly help out, however, off on Friday for a week's vacation, so cannot help the first week. SnapChat is like Twitter to me; don't really get it and don't use it all that much. The one I would recommend is Google+. Don't have a big circle of friends in it now (Richard Branson still updates me on his incredible life), but I find more and more of my life being consumed in it. For example, finally gave up on the company calendaring system and instead use Google Calendar, which allows me to share calendars with my wife, groups I am working with, when the Mets are going to play next, etc. More than just a snap a video and post. But seems to be where the younger generation is escaping to now us boomers have adopted FB. Let me know.
  5. Molly Seitel from Acxiom Corporation , June 2, 2014 at 10:12 p.m.
    Hi Cathy, I would love to experiment on these platforms. Having been in media forever, (I'm sure many of your readers had no idea what your reference to the orange haired troll meant - I had a collection..) it is almost embarrassing when my 11 year old daughter has to teach me things I have no idea how to use - she loves flipgram and what app right now, in addition to snapchat. So, I guess a little practice would be helpful. BTW - to the reader above who doesn't get twitter - my use case - Twitter is my go to for up to the minute news from around the world, involving every facet of my life. I follow tweeters re my interests, hobbies, world politics, local and national news, weather, etc. Even my kid's soccer coach. In my opinion, humble of course, it is one of the most useful and fastidious ways to receive information on my mobile device... if you're into that kind of thing. As a pseudo soccer mom, for me, time is of the essence and twitter delivers what I need to know in a nanosecond. Looking forward to the experiment....
  6. Bruce Carlisle from Digital Axle, LLC , June 3, 2014 at 12:16 a.m.
    Cathy: good idea. would like to better understand Snapchat and Kik. Bruce
  7. James Taylor from GlobalWebIndex , June 3, 2014 at 7:27 a.m.
    Completely agree, Catharine - it's becoming clear that the big social players like Facebook and Twitter are no longer the first-choice destination for some of our social behaviors. We looked at the numbers using the new private messaging apps in our recent GWI Social report and it's not hard to see why they're generating such a buzz at the moment. Over the last six months, all of the chat apps tracked by GlobalWebIndex have risen in popularity, with Snapchat (+67%) posting the biggest increase of all, followed by Kik Messenger (+32%) and WhatsApp (+30%). I think a number of reasons are contributing to the rise of these services - they're often considered to be more private, personal and secure than the big social networks, they're on trend with the migration of social activities to mobile devices and they're much more immediate than using other channels. As a result, some of the conversations that used to be taking place on the major social networks have now shifted to these apps - and that's probably one factor behind Facebook (-6%), Twitter (-3%) and Google+ (-1%) all seeing minor decreases in active usage!