Snapchat is a smartphone app that enables you to share photos with others. The concept is a photo and video sharing phone app where you shoot, send and control how long the image is available to the parties you send it to. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, ranging from up to 10 seconds to as little as one second, after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device, but they are permanently saved on the company's server. Should the parties you send it to take a screen shot of your photo or video, Snapchat notifies you.
The company describes their app as "a new way to share moments with friends." It is 10 times faster sharing than MMS or text photo sharing, the company said. Snapchat launched in September 2011 and in less than 2 years, "snapchatters" shared over 200 million snaps every day! The images are not quite hi-def and may even appear grainy, but the idea of the site, its developers say, is to focus on social media that is NOT permanent—it is an organic method of connecting people through photos and/or video. Snapchat uses your mobile data plan, and exceeding the data usage allotted by your plan may cause you to incur charges and additional fees from your carrier.
In our optical, we ask patients if they use Snapchat. If they do, we encourage them to "snapchat" shots of frame selection to their friends for comment. We ask them to caption the snap with our practice name so the friend seeing it learns about our brand. One of the goals of social media marketing is to gain exposure to "friends of friends"—the people most likely to take note of your business. People tend to trust recommendations of friends, so when they learn that their friend was at shopping our optical with a "snap" it is a silent yet strong endorsement of our business.
I learned about Snapchat when a patient observing her brother’s exam took a snap of him behind the phoropter to send to her friends for a laugh. In the future, I hope to be able to use the technology to send birthday and holiday messages to patients or share clinical photos with other physicians.
Users can also add text and drawings and send them to a controlled list of recipients, so another potential business application might be centered around addressing HIPAA concern: should you share medical information? Actually, the ability to control when that information is kept and when it is deleted is sometimes desirable. I think the technology holds promise in retail businesses, mostly for its ability for your patients to share your brand with their friends. I have no doubt other business uses will surface and other features will become available as Snapchat gains momentum.
Alan Glazier, OD, FAAO is founder of
Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care, located in the Rockville, MD suburbs of Washington, DC. Dr. Glazier is a frequent lecturer and author on eye care marketing and clinical topics. The founder of ODs on Facebook, the industries most engaged social media group, Glazier is also a VM/ROB Optometric Business Innovator and VM D.A.R.E. award winner. He is co-founder of the virtual conferences SEEingIsBelieving and
CEingIsBelieving and founder of
Eyegregator.com, a free industry dashboard connecting users to the major eye care websites, blogs and social media sites they might want to visit from one bookmarkable homepage. Connect with Dr. Glazier on Facebook, on Twitter
@EyeInfo or by email at