There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine – the four largest social media platforms that allow users to post and share memories with their friends.

Then there’s Snapchat – an offbeat, unconventional time-limited photo messaging app that used to be most infamously known for sexting.howdousnap

When the app was first launched on the Stanford University campus by two college kids (Evan Spiegel and Reggie Brown), Snapchat’s (or originally, “Picaboo”) success was in question.  Spiegel’s classmates laughed at the idea of sending photos with time limits.  In July of 2011, the never-before-seen new phenomenon of timed photo messaging was born.

As of today, the thriving company, only four years young, has over 700 million snaps and videos sent by users per day.

Unlike Facebook, which originally launched in 2004 and took a while to become popular, Snapchat hit the ground running, with over 20 million photos sent per day after its first birthday.  Because of Snapchat’s mysterious function of timed snaps that can only be viewed once, parents are cautioned to forbid their kids from downloading and using the app due to Snapchat’s reputation as a sexting tool.

However, as of its birth, the company has been striving to rid its ugly reputation.  By introducing the “My Story” feature in October of 2013, Snapchat has broadened its horizons to become more of a social media tool rather than the one-on-one secret messaging system that terrifies parents.  It allows users to snap and record pieces of life to post under their username for their friends to view, and disappear from the server after 24 hours.

From this first step, the company has been gradually transforming from a forbidden racy app to a fresh and unusual tool of social media and communication.

“Your Story never ends and it’s always changing. The end of your Story today is the beginning of your Story tomorrow.”

As a groundbreaking app that plays on an idea as simple as photo messaging, Snapchat is ultimately irreplaceable by any other existing social media application like Instagram or Vine.  After Instagram introduced the feature of Instagram Video, the future of Vine has been tested, and is still under observation.

The simple idea of Snapchat goes beyond old-school texting and takes users to places they’ve never been before.  Instead of just iMessaging or Facebook messaging, Snapchat allows users to see their friend’s faces live, where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing.  It takes more than a text to fully describe all of the above.  Our generation loves to know everything.

Snapchat’s use of unfiltered and live snaps break yet another boundary of privacy and in some oxymoronic sense, gives a feeling of presence between user’s lives.  Rather than just texting and using words to describe context, users allow friends to enter in their world and be in the moment with them through snaps of images and videos.

vineinstagramWhen Instagram launched “Instagram Direct“, Snapchat fanatics were afraid the feature would trump Snapchat forever.  Nevertheless, the private messaging system created by Instagram could not live up to Snapchat’s hype, since it operated precisely like photo-texting, allowing users to save those messages in their history.  Today, the Instagram Direct feature has become of little to no use as Snapchat still takes the cake as the most innovative photo-messaging app.

Our generation finds it difficult to get informed about current events, especially the seemingly dull columns having to do with Economics and Politics.  Generation X views millennials as uninformed and unknowledgeable in that we prefer tweeting about our lives rather than reading the morning paper to start our days.

This challenge has been taken up by Snapchat – how do you get millennials to want to read the news and stay informed?  What is a good way of capturing their attentions in such a media-saturated world?

As one of the fastest growing social media platforms in history, the app has went from a classroom joke, to a naughty teen app, and is now (as of last Tuesday) a handy and educational tool.  The week old “Discover” feature has transformed Snapchat from a smartphone app to a social media congloscreen shot 2015-01-27 at 11.50.04 ammerate.

Not only are the original uses of the application significantly proved, but it has opened up doors for educational and marketing purposes.  Users can now view “Stories” by major media companies like CNN, National Geographic, and Daily Mail that are precisely updated every 24 hours.

Snapchat has invented the most incredible way to broaden its user demographics, and to get young people educationally informed in ways that the social media world has never seen before.

Millennials love Snapchat – and now they are getting informed and educated by viewing Snapchats from news sources in a new and captivating system.  Looking at Snapchat’s outstandingly remarkable four year timeline, there is only space for the company to grow larger and even more successful.