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Since it gained notoriety as a teen sexting app in 2012, Snapchat has evolved to become a major social media force, with more than 150 million users sending temporary photos and texts over the app every day. That's a higher daily user rate than Twitter. Which is to say, when it comes to social media, Snapchat is becoming increasingly important.
Snapchat is no longer something lawyers can ignore, so here's what you should know about the app. (But don't worry, we're not going to ask you to start posting selfies to Snapchat.)
The fundamental premise of Snapchat is simple: you can send someone a photo that will be hosted on the app and that will disappear in just a few seconds. I snap you a photo of my lunch, it's gone in five seconds, and a few minutes later you send a photo of your cat. That cat photo, too, vanishes after mere moments.
When Snapchat started to gain in popularity, its self-destructing snaps spawned a mini moral panic as people worried that America's youth was using the software to send photos of their naughty bits. They were, but Snapchat has grown, it's grown out of its early sexting image. Today, it's used by millions of people to send photos, transfer money, interact with brands, or just turn their faces into puppy dogs via the app's "lenses" feature.
Snapchat users love Snapchat. When it comes to user engagement, Snapchat is "five times more effective than Twitter and 10 times more effective than LinkedIn," according to Business Insider.
While that makes Snapchat users great targets for advertisers, Snapchat isn't exactly suited for attorneys looking to build their client base. That's because only 14 percent of the app's users are over the age of 35. While some of those kids might search Snapchat for legal services on their way back from Coachella, your social media market energies are probably better expended elsewhere.
Here's where Snapchat has some real value for attorneys. Since so much of a Snapchat user's life is captured and transferred through the app, it has become an important source of evidence. For example, just this July, two people were convicted of rape after friends sent photos of the sexual assault through the app. Snapchat's speed filter has recorded how fast a motorist was driving right before a fatal accident.
Some of that evidence is retained when users take screenshots or other documentation or the snaps. But digital forensics experts may also be able to recreate deleted snaps long after they have gone off into the ether. And even Snapchat itself keeps logs of previous snaps. Personal injury lawyers, divorce attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, and more could all benefit from evidence found through Snapchat.
So, go ahead and download the app. While Snapchat won't be the next big thing in lawyer social media, it could have a significant impact on your practice nonetheless.