Do you feel challenged and intimidated by new social media channels? Not sure if you need another way to waste your time? Do you wonder if it’s even worth it to keep up with the latest and greatest? At some point do you just have to throw up your hands and surrender?

This happened to me with Snapchat. I downloaded it once, tried it, didn’t understand it and deleted it. Then I started hearing friends say ‘Did you see my snap?’ ‘Oh, I have to snap this!’ ‘Adding it to my snap story.’ What?! I would nod my head, laugh awkwardly and then slip out of the conversation. But deep down, I had severe FOMO. I didn’t want to end up like Bill Belichick and not be able to distinguish between Instantface and MyFace. I wanted to be cool!

So I tried again. Downloaded the app, set up a profile and then used the filters to entertain my 2-year-old. But I knew there had to be more!

I tried Googling and learned that I might actually be the only person not using Snapchat. Apparently there are 150 million daily active users and more than 400 million Snaps are sent every day.

Snapchat allows businesses to create content or offers that will disappear forever after a certain length of time, giving customers the feeling of urgency and exclusivity. Snapchat is ideal for real-time social media marketing because it can give the audience direct access to live events.

Okay, Google, I get it. Snapchat is popular and useful to businesses and brands. But why? What was drawing so many users? Why are users okay with their photos and videos disappearing after 24 hours? I needed help … and I get by with a little help from my AKHIA friends – Emily, Nicole, Jessica and Meredith. After brief tutorials and interviews with these four Snapchat pros, I not only understood how to use it but noticed some commonalities in their views on the channel.

  • Snapchat is less aggressive, more laid back. I think the fact that your personal interactions are separate from the Featured or Snapchat stories, allows you to choose what you want to use it for the most. Everyone I interviewed said that they use it mainly for interactions with friends versus searching the Snapchat stories or Featured stories. Meredith did say she was persuaded to make a purchase based on seeing a blogger she follows post a story on Snapchat, it was only because she made the decision to follow her and not because it was forced into her feed.
  • It’s silly and fun and less serious. Emily mainly posts funny videos of her kids and Nicole sends videos to her mom with filters that turn your face into a talking deer. (What better way to send a message?) The last several months have proven to be a rough time on other social channels so who doesn’t need more Snaps of babies and silly deer?
  • There’s a low commitment factor with Snapchat. Whatever you post is gone in 24 hours unless you choose to save it. I saw this as a negative point, and Meredith did admit to me that she had to let go of some control issues when she started using it, but you realize that not everything is worth saving. This is another way to keep it loose and fun. Posted something stupid, who cares? In 24 hours it will be history. Unlike Facebook that reminds me of things I posted in 2008 that I may not care to see again.
  • Snapchat is a smaller, more intimate list of Friends. You have to know the username to add someone on Snapchat, making it more difficult to find someone. Jessica compared Snapchat to a group text but with filters and features that add value and fun. Emily said she doesn’t mind sharing more frequently because the only people watching are people who want to watch versus it showing up in their feed. With a smaller community of viewers comes less room for judgement and opinions. Yes!!
  • Snapchat gives you the ability to capture and view in real time. It’s about being in the moment. Jessica finds she uses it the most when she’s at an event – think going to a Cavs game or a weekly meet-up to watch The Bachelor. Nicole, who uses it a lot when she’s out hiking, compared it to a journal. You can capture pictures and videos throughout the day and at the end, you have a nice snapshot of your journey.

Fast forward a few weeks from my interviews and I’m happy to report that I’m hooked. While I mainly post snaps of my kid, I’ve also found it’s another way to connect with and enjoy friends. And at the end of the day, it’s why we use these channels anyway, right? If you’re on the fence, hopefully the info here will help you decide if it’s worth it.

Now that I’m on Snapchat and actively using it, it’s a sure bet that the next big social channel will launch any day now and I’ll be behind again. But for now you can catch my Snaps at: kberto83. And a big thanks to the patient friends that made me a Snapchat-ter. (Snapchat-ter? I’ll ask Belichick.)

Kasey Bertolino is a senior account executive at AKHIA.