My experience of using Snap Maps

I heard about Snap Maps through a friend who showed me how to access the feature (“It’s so hidden, who would find the feature?”)

After playing with it for a while, I have to say I spent a good 30 minutes browsing around the world to look at what’s happening. I ‘visited’ the West Coast to look at the neighbourhoods I’ve lived in, and I ‘visited’ New York to take a look at the happenings near Broadway. I also love Japan very much as a country, so I also took some time to ‘visit’ Japan.

SnapMaps_Japan Tokyo here I come!

SnapMaps_NY Visiting New York and am not disappointed with people singing Hamilton.

Initially a couple of friends and I thought the purpose was meant for stalking your friends (and Snap confirms it), because you could see where your friends’ locations are. I have to say though, the initial reactions from most of my friends who use Snap is that this feature is ‘creepy’, and some of them have already gone on to switch on Ghost mode.

For people who like to say ‘I’m on my way!’ to the next friends’ gathering, be warned that this feature will tell your friends if you are lying or not. ;)

But I’m not very bullish about the friends part of this, what’s exciting to me is the next steps where Snap is bringing Snapchat to with its worldwide discovery.

Most of us here would probably agree that content discoverability is a problem on Snap (compared to IG) where we are limited in terms of engagement, because of the limited amount of content available. I can only view my friends’ Snaps, a couple of promoted Stories now and then, and advertised Stories (currently in the form of Discover) which are mostly clickbait.

With Snap Maps, I get to check out what’s happening at certain parts of the world, and whenever there are events like conferences or concerts or festivals happening, to allow its users to zoom into them. I’m not sure how Snap currently curates its events, but it might make sense to allow the community to curate events itself in the future for a more localised experience.

SnapMaps_HW There’s a conference in Hawaii!

It’s kind of like Swarm, where you can see where your friends are at. It’s also kind of like Twitter, where you can get updated on the streaming of live events.

I understand IG probably has some form of discovery through hashtags too, but I don’t use it. I think there is also a difference in that IG prioritises suggesting individual content creators to you which is more of a personalised experience, and not by ‘themes’ or ‘events’. The use cases are very different.

SnapMaps_WC Am I seeing some Snapchat usage at FB’s office?

For me however, introducing content through a map navigation is definitely much more contextual, and it makes use of the most accurate data to plot its Snaps at certain locations. You can definitely put a location which you were not at in IG, but to me it seems like SnapMaps makes use of your GPS location to determine where the Snaps are placed on the map? (except for GPS spoofing.)

There are probably challenges in terms of user privacy and adoption; first case as mentioned would be how the initial reactions of my friends to this is ‘creepy’. Abuse of this feature can come in the form of stalking too. How will users be educated on its use, and moving on, will giving out your location like this become socially prevalent?

I am also assuming that most Snaps in countries with low Snap adoption rate are from tourists, non-locals. To really get a glimpse of, example, an authentic behind the scenes-festival experience in Japan, you’d really require adoption from locals and a willingness from your users to be more open about their lives.
Much cultural and privacy challenges ahead.

Consumption of content through bite-sized visuals appeal much more to millennials, and that’s why I think it’s a right direction towards “empower[ing] people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.”

And it is also “making the world more open and connected” at the same time. 😉

Looking forward to more from Snap.