Snapchat is going to reach a billion users thanks to “Gen-S” — the smartphone generation


Snapchat is going to reach a billion users, challenging Facebook, YouTube, and mainstream media, for the attention of “Gen-S” — the smartphone generation.

I know this because this Christmas a bearded, chubby, and jolly fellow showed me the power of Snapchat.

No, not Santa Claus, the hip-hop version of Old Saint Nick — DJ Khaled.

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Every time this one-part Tony Robbins, two-parts Puff Daddy takes the screen, over three million views come pouring in. Yes, you read that correctly, three million views every time a DJ from Miami gets a massage, smokes a stogie, or shows you his shoes.


Kim Kardashian and her clan get just under two million viewers per episode now, down from 2.5 – 3 million they used to pull in.

These are not apples to apples, with Khaled sharing 5-second clips, but it’s fair to say the viewership is similar. Where things diverge is the cost, with the Kardashians signing up for four more years of documenting their lives for $100m — and that’s just their salaries.   

What makes Khaled so watchable is that he is not obsessed with his own success (and what it buys), but his message of hope — he wants you to be as successful as he is. It’s a classic device, but it works.

In another year Khaled will, if he keeps this up, grow his audience by 10x, and have 30 million folks watch him pour Apple Ciroc vodka, “bless up” his audience, and give all of us the “major keys” to success.

Snapchat will have dozens of Khaleds in the years to come, with their content being only available inside their App. Advertisers are going to go wild for this content, and in fact Khaled is constantly doing product placement already (who knows if it’s free or paid, I suspect a little of both).

In another year, I’m guessing Snapchat will split revenue with Khaled when they insert 6-second short videos between his videos. Those views will probably run $10-20 per thousand views, which means if 1/3rd of people didn’t skip them, Khaled and Snapchat would be splitting $10-20k per video — a huge premium on YouTube’s bargain basement CPMs.

Why most people don’t get snapchat

It takes a while to grok Snapchat, especially if you’re a member of the two remaining generations that remember a time before the internet. At first glance it feels like Snapchat is designed to be confusing, and to be clear, it is confusing.

When you open the App you’re presented with a bizarre interface: your camera is turned on and you’re prompted to record something right now.

You’re not asked to sort through your camera roll to upload an image, nor are you asked to sort through a feed of your friends’ images and updates like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

No, Snapchat wants you to document your life. It exists for this reason alone, and once you realize and accept this, you can participate in this brilliant, if slightly insane, vision of the world.

If you don’t accept it, you turn the App off in frustration, confusion, or contempt — like I did for the past year. I just didn’t get it and didn’t want to get it.

Key to Snapchat’s vision is that the videos you capture are never available publicly, and in fact, they disappear from “your story” in just 24 hours. They’re not even saved to your camera roll by default (you have to take extra steps to save your own media!).

All of these factors are designed to make sharing fluid and carefree — perhaps even careless. As in, don’t sweat it, just post it!  

If the idea of shooting a video and sharing it without thinking about it seems terrifying to you, well, that’s because you’re over 25 years old (and/or not a narcissist).

However, if you are under 20 years old, you’re part of Generation S, the smartphone generation. That means you grew up with the following rule set:

1.  The seemingly most successful person in all of media — Kim Kardashian — got to her position by having her sex tape “leaked”
2.  Your worth is based on your followers, views, likes, and other social currency
3.  Your phone is your primary consumption device
4.  Everyone wants to follow your story, because you’re a unique and special snowflake
5.  There is no shame in being who you are — because you’re a unique snowflake!

We can debate if any of these things is true, but I can tell you they are true to Gen-S, and that’s all that matters.

Snapchat is wildly addicting and the emerging stars on the platform will become bigger than YouTube’s due to the intimacy and ease of production the App provides. That is, if Evan Spiegel figures out a way to make DJ Khaled stacks of cash … that’s the major key.

Bless up! jasoncalacanis ( ←- on SNAPCHAT! )

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