Social media is, without a doubt, here to stay. But why would anyone be interested in a social media app where your messages disappear forever in 10 seconds. In her December 26, 2015 article for Pocket-lint entitled “What’s the point of Snapchat and how does it work?”, journalist Elyse Betters attempts to answer that question through a review and analysis of the popular “disappearing” photo and video messaging mobile computer application Snapchat. Ultimately, Betters argues that Snapchat interesting because it provides one of the simplest ways for people to tell stories. Betters goes on to try to prove her point by providing a step-by-step guide for potential new users on how to use the app to tell their own stories like a professional “snapchatter”.
Betters begins the article by providing a thorough overview of Snapchat, its users, and its main uses as a social media platform. Betters explains that the company was founded in 2011 by Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel originally as a video messaging service for people to send “naked pictures that would disappear” (Betters). Its explosion in popularity, however, was not the result of its original business model, but rather the ease and convenience it provided users to send high-quality videos and photos to their family and friends. Eventually, Snapchat’s leaders realized the potential of this and added number of features that allowed users to actually save their messages for longer periods of time. One of the most important of these new features is called “stories”. Stories allows a user to compile as many messages as they like into a mini-movie of their day or specific activity which lasts for 24 hours. Teenagers and young adults, were two groups that quickly caught on to the uses of Snapchat. While Snapchat’s popularity is now growing across of age groups, Betters explains that young users are still its largest market. Betters further explains that Snapchat’s popularity has attracted a number of others companies looking to gain on its popularity. However, it has decided to remain independent for the time being, which Betters argues makes sense, especially being that it is predicted to grow much further which could mean a bigger pay-out if Snapchat ever does decide to sell. Betters ends the article with a step-by-step introduction and explanation for Snapchats features and functionalities such as how to create a message, known as a “snap”; how to send, store and review a snap; and how to create a story for a number of snaps.
As a journalist focused on the technology industry with a decade of experience covering such technology and Internet giants as Apple and Google, Betters’ ethos is based on her evident expertise and understanding of the many different types of technologies that the market is producing and that consumers are interested in using. She is quite comfortable writing about the technology that Snapchat incorporates and in explaining in “no-techie” what a reader needs to know about the app and especially how to use it. Furthermore, it is also quite clear form her writing that she has a deep personal knowledge to the app as well as insights from other users. This provides a good balance of understanding to the reader. However, perhaps what is most important to her credibility and appeal to ethos is her use of a number of strong sources that strengthen her explanations and points of interest. She includes, for example, a number of imbedded videos from some to the top Snapchat users or commentator on a number of aspects of the app and its uses. These videos are extremely useful in supporting her claims and clarifying her instructions.
Betters’ pathos is twofold. First, nowadays most people are involved or interested in social media. This point is illustrated in the significant numbers being reported about just how common social media participation is across the nation and the world. In essence, the majority of people that have a computer, tablet or smartphone or in some ways interested in social media. Accordingly, the idea that there is widely popular social media app that you may not be a user of plays on most people’s emotions, at least in terms of persuading people the read the article. Secondly, as a youth driven culture, we are always interested in understanding what kids are “into” and how knowing that will make us seem less boring and more hip. Better’s article taps into this emotion from the title (Betters). To be sure, anyone that is interested in social media and not yet on Snapchat would most likely consider reading the article just from the title.
Similar to her ethos appeal, Betters provides plenty of facts that seek to target a reader’s logos. For example, Betters’ at one point in the article asks rhetorically: who uses Snapchat; to which she answers: everyone (Betters). She then goes on to ask: what are people using Snapchat for; to which the answer is: to tell stories (Betters). Stories that can be told, Betters argues, very simply. The clear meaning of her mention here being: if you are not using Snapchat to tell your stories; then you are missing out on something really interesting. She follows this up with, as mentioned as step-by-step tutorial of how simple it is to use Snapchat to tell a story. Indeed, if you actually follow Betters tutorial, you do discover how easy it is to use Snapchat.
In terms of Kairos, Betters’ article could not be more timely. As mentioned, social media is “the new big thing” and everyone from presidential candidates to sports and movie stars to high school teachers are finding ways to use social media to connect with voters, fans, ans students in ways that were unheard of five or ten years ago. Snapchat is currently one of the leading social media platforms so understanding it will go a long way to understanding the power and uses of social media.
In the end, Betters use of ethos, pathos, logos and Kairos was not only exceptionally informative in helping to understand some of the current trends in social media and why Snapchat is the current leading social media platform. Betters does this by establishing her credibility and strengthening this with video citations of experts in the field. She then concentrates on expression common emotional, logical and timely arguments on why Snapchat is popular and why the reader should start using Snapchat for themselves.
Although Betters begins her essay by asking what’s the point of Snapchat and its disappearing messages, it quickly becomes clear that she knows exactly what the point of Snapchat is and why the reader, and the world, should understand. While the temporary aspect of the app is still present, the service itself has evolved to become one of the most popular ways for people to tell and share their own stories.
Betters, Elyse. “What is the point of Snapchat and how does it work.” Pocket-lint. Pocket-lint.com, 26 Dec. 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2016. www.pocket-lint.com/news/131313-what-s-the-point-of-snapchat-and-how-does-it-work