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The Snapchat Effect

Individuals use social signals to influence their decision making, and often this kind of ‘follow the crowd’ behavior leads to information cascades. As the driving force behind many consumer preferences, information cascades often demonstrate a positive relationship with commercial popularity.

One article titled, “Why Snapchat is so much more Popular Among youth than Adults” suggests that there are certain demographic signals that influence information cascades and the popularity of social media applications. The study of age, in particular, reveals clear divisions across the qualities of a social platform that appeal differently to youths in comparison to adults.

On average, younger consumers utilize these apps in much larger scales–creating much larger networks than adults, yet Snapchat remains the anomaly. There is a large divulgence in Snapchat usage in that the consumer base is skewed completely towards teens and younger adolescents, despite the more private nature of the social network. The Snapchat application is unique because it allows users to share everyday moments without the social ‘pressure’ of the quantitative visible elements from other kinds of social media such as likes, followers, or shares. The article suggests this phenomenon results from the lack of conditioning in adults to tie social status to online platforms. Base on these principles, the app created a different kind of information cascade by emphasizing private communication. The more teens communicated through the application, the more non-using peers would be isolated, and this created a unique cascade based on a demographic specific influx of users.

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November 2018