Over the last year or so, the app-based social platform, Snapchat, has evolved into a $16 billion dollar business.
Once considered a service that created new ways for teenagers to sext, today Snapchat is an app where over 100 million users go to communicate, share and even get their daily dose of news and events through "live story" and "local story" features.
This sudden increase in popularity amongst advertising and media outlets, as well as the general public, makes Snapchat a direct competitor of Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter.
So, why the surprise boom in popularity? What's the appeal?
As someone who uses Snapchat over basic text messaging, my personal reasoning to use Snapchat more than any other social service is simple.
Snapchat is a transparent service.
Unlike social outlets like Facebook, Instagram, etc. which don't release information concerning who views you online, Snapchat allows users to see exactly who is viewing their stories.
They know exactly who opens pictures and messages through the service, what time sent pictures and messages were viewed and whenever (if ever) another user screenshots a snap or snap message.
For those who are unfamiliar with the service (and live under a rock), a "Snapchat story" works the same way a status on Facebook, post on Instagram or a tweet on Twitter does.
All of your followers/friends on the service may view it.
All stories expire after 24 hours, so if a friend on Snapchat didn't look during that time, he or she misses it.
Keeping you in the loop is an important feature that sets Snapchat apart from its competitors by giving the user more control over his or her online identity.
Snapchat keeps its users informed.
This is the first time we've seen this in a social media service.
In this way, Snapchat is groundbreaking.
Snapchat promotes transparancy in a way that protects each user's privacy and artistic talent.
Pictures, videos and messages expire in 24 hours; screenshot notifications minimize theft of user content; and stalkers stay at bay.
Snapchat is relatively one of the safer platforms on social media.
Snapchat is a sh*t ton of fun.
For some, using the service can be considered fun because it's subconsciously a #throwback to a less complicated time.
Snapchat also allows users to further personalize photos and videos by turning them into messages with words and filters.
When words become part of a picture, they can't be ignored, like a caption or a post on other social spaces.
Thus, Snapchat increases communication by allowing user creativity to flow, and that makes it a sh*t ton of fun.
I've seen some users do some incredible things with the basic drawing, video and now "lenses."
Snaps are creative, entertaining, silly and personal, which makes going on the app a far more fulfilling social option against other more flooded social services.
There's no algorithm forced upon you.
While Facebook refuses to release its exact calculations for the algorithm it uses to come up with each user's newsfeed content, the company has admitted it is loosely based upon who you interact most with online.
Unlike Facebook, which may block your posts from your actual best friends when you don't interact with their posts much, or Instagram and Twitter, which don't utilize algorithms at all, Snapchat allows you to send your statuses directly.
It shows every story or status that was posted by your friends in the last 24 hours in an orderly listed fashion.
Users can pick and choose, for themselves, without being bombarded with — or kept from — content published by a specific user.
Users have the freedom of choice.
As long as your friends on Snapchat are actively checking their snaps, they'll never miss a message from you.
Unless you go looking for it, promoted content on Snapchat won't blatantly annoy you by pushing it in your face.
Snapchat is revolutionary, private (yet open) and not totally in-your-face about promoted content you really don't care about.
And if all that isn't enough, it's always fun game to try to decipher those little emojis next to your friend's names. Especially if you have a smiley and a heart icon next to your crush's name.