Snapchat and Compulsion Loops

As someone who’s now Older Than Dirt, in internet years, I’ve really had no reason to use Snapchat. So I really didn’t know what all the fuss was about until I read this post from Sean Haufler. I’d encourage you to read the full post, but here’s what jumped out:

“Snapchat’s time limits make snaps more engaging. Since snaps disappear seconds after they are opened, users feel comfortable sending spontaneous and personal messages that they would not want ingrained into digital histories. Sending a headshot to a friend via text feels forced, but sending a warm gaze or a silly face via Snapchat is natural. Snapchat pictures tend to be candid and unprepared, which makes the messages feel more personal, more real. Additionally, since every message has a time limit, users are present when opening snaps. Snapchat attracts its users’ full attention since they have only a few seconds to capture the details of each message. This engagement makes the experience more satisfying – it feels like a real conversation.”

In gaming – really, in any media property – “a compulsion loop is a mechanic in which something provides someone with a reward for accomplishing a goal, then sets them a new goal, creating a loop of process and reward. This process keeps the audience or user engaged until such time that they feel the process of accomplishment outweighs the reward or the goals simply run out.” (link) Successful new compulsion loops are hard to build; successful loops that include viral spread, and are sustainable, are gold.

Snapchat has found a way to create such a loop, and Sean did a great job of describing it.

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