Snapchat is back in the news again.
It is propelled mostly by a $10-billion valuation and the whispery success of Snapchat Discover, which lets a couple lucky media companies promote tiny swipe-magazines of video and text to every single person who uses the app. There’s much tittering about Discover, and no hard numbers, but “millions of views per day, per publisher” is representative of the rumors.
Which is a lot! Millions of views, per publisher, per day—that means, eventually, maybe, millions of dollars? And so media organizations are beating their way back to the Snapchat beat again, asking what it is and who uses it. Business Insider even queried living, respirating Millennials about how they used the app and ran their responses verbatim.
So I would like to introduce myself as one such Millennial, and a regular user of Snapchat. And I would like to offer one way to understand Snapchat: as a postcard.
The best way to understand this is through the app’s little-talked-about geo-filters feature.
Geo-filters are one of the filters that Snapchat users can apply to their pictures and videos. Others filters change an image’s color balance (which turn your selfies black-and-white, or Instagram-sepia), or overlay the local temperature or time, or decorate a picture with images about a special holiday. Geo-filters are in some ways the most special, though: They’re an image overlaid on a snap, related to a specific location, that can only be used in a specific place. I first noticed one when, idly swiping through filters, I saw one associated with my D.C. neighborhood.