Snapchat_logoBy Eleanor Pierce

Look, I’m not going to lie.

I believed until fairly recently that the only purpose of SnapChat was serving as a venue for unwise teenagers to send each other photos of their bits and pieces.

And I’m sure that many of them (as well as more than a few unwise non-teens) are still using it for that very purpose.

We know what people use their phones and computers for—sometimes it’s for good, but very often it’s for icky.

But I started spending time around people who are about a decade younger than I am. And I kept hearing “You’re not on SnapChat??”

No. I was not. And I didn’t want to be.

Then I discovered that it wasn’t just Millennials who use SnapChat. Some of my nerdier friends (I use that as a term of endearment) were into it, too—I met a group of people here in Myrtle Beach who co-work together, some web and game developers, entrepreneurs, and all social media fans.

The way they talked about SnapChat made it seem like I was missing out on something fun, so I decided to stick a tentative toe in the water.

SnapChat: Not as Dangerous as it Seems

I created an account, and before I knew it I was exchanging funny-face selfies with my teenaged nieces.

I moved on to the occasional dog pic which I sent to some of my pals, and then I started getting really funny SnapChats from my friends.

One of them is stunningly skilled at turning her own face into McDonald’s characters—the Hamburglar, Ronald, and Grimace were some of my favorites.

Barb Royal of

Another friend turned himself into Shrek and captioned it “check yourself before you Shrek yourself.”

Nerdy, yes, but also hilarious, in my book.

Before I knew it, I had turned a corner.

I was following a brand on SnapChat – the HBO show Girls. If you’ve watched it, you know, the characters are awkward (and often awful), and while it’s not to everyone’s taste, I love it.

Throughout the season, I would get SnapChats from GirlsHBO, usually simple drawings with inside jokes from the last episode—and if I hadn’t watched it yet, it was a great reminder to log in to HBO GO and get to it, because I wanted to be in on the joke.

Don’t Force a Community – Join One

Now, am I telling you about my adventures with SnapChat because I want to convince you to use it?

No, not necessarily.

Because there’s one big reason SnapChat worked for me: I had a community of people who were already there. I didn’t try to force a community into using a trendy new tool just because I wanted them to be there.

I joined the party – much like the team at HBO did.

As Sabrina Calouri, VP of social media and marketing at HBO told Mashable:

When we look at all the different social platforms that are out there, we look at what the fans are doing naturally.

And HBO and Girls are using outlets such as SnapChat to drive people back to the show itself—as reminders to people like me who forget that a new episode is out.

If you ask me, figuring out where your audience is and joining in on the fun is a lot easier than trying to force your audience into a social network they’re not already familiar with.

SnapChat, as fun as it may be, is not much of a destination in and of itself—and who knows where it’ll be next week. If it’s going to have value for brands, that value will be in showing personality, staying top-of-mind for your consumer, and reminding them to head back to see you again on your own turf.

Of course, there will always be the early adopters. And if that’s who you are, more power to you. But if you ask me, the party’s more fun once a few people you know are already there.

Eleanor Pierce

Eleanor Pierce is a recovering journalist who can't decide which part of the country to call home. She's happiest when she's reading, though she also really likes writing, baking, dogs, and sarcasm. No, seriously.

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