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What’s So Great About Snapchat, Anyway?

The question was posed and answered by Joanne Stern, reporter at The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) based on her confusion—er, excitement—about changes to photo and video-sharing social media services such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.

Fun, adorable and clever photos aside, the real story here is about how each figures into mobile advertising possibilities.

Stern jokes when she suggests that using Snapchat (which enables embellishments to any photo) can be so confusing that it will make anyone who remembers Walkmans and VCRs go crazy. She suggests that Snapchat users must be age 25 or younger.

With Snapchat, its interface enables three basic images: Snaps (they last just 10 seconds before disappearing), Story (a series of similar snaps that last 24 hours) and Chat (one-on-one correspondence with images). Hey, I remember AOL’s chat rooms...not the same thing.

Snapchat’s parent company Snap has announced it will hold an initial public offering (IPO) in March, which is expected to set its value at between $21 billion and $25 billion or more.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Q4 earnings released Feb. 1 showed it “squeezed nearly 30 percent more revenue per user, pumping its advertising muscle ahead of an anticipated slowdown in growth later this year,” WSJ reports.

“Facebook users spent more time watching videos on Facebook and its photo-sharing app Instagram [which Facebook purchased years ago for just $1 billion], providing the social media giant with more slots for ads. That built on the growth in mobile advertising that Facebook has been taking advantage of for several years.”

Meanwhile, Instagram recently announced changes to its platform, in an effort for it to keep pace with other image- and video-sharing services. Distraught tech blogger Pete Pachal of Mashable writes tongue-in-cheek, “Instagram, the popular social network based around sharing photos, died suddenly on [Jan. 31]. The service was 6 years old. The cause of death was trying to be everything to everyone, a condition it had suffered for months, but had been managing quite well.”

However, during the past year, Pachal writes, Instagram had expanded its features considerably by introducing likes, live video and its own version of Snapchat’s “stories.”

Nonetheless, Snapchat maintained some integrity, Pachal writes, until now. He writes that its new “Albums” section for users’ photos will make them diluted and tedious. No, these albums are not the kind made of vinyl.