Snapchat Memories. A Step Back or a Leap Forward?

Does Snapchat Memories go against everything Snapchat stands for?

My first reaction to Snapchat launching its Memories feature: “What am I to make of this? Snapchat is turning into a common social media platform, overriding everything that made it special!”. I was sad and I believe that many people felt the same way that day. A week later, I started seeing things a bit differently.  

Snapchat’s history demonstrates its authenticity

It all started with an idea that Evan Spiegel and friends had while in a class at Stanford over four years ago. The idea was inspired by our reality and by the fact that moments are temporary. That idea turned into Snapchat, a platform that nowadays has over 110 million daily active users and 10 billion daily video views.

Important milestones in Snapchat’s history – Features that make it unique


In 2013, Snapchat launched its core feature dubbed Stories. Users could record short videos of maximum 12 seconds to which they could add filters, emojis, stickers, lenses, etc. and publish them under My Story. Users could also add a Snap to their Story. The latter lived for 24 hours before it disappeared, making room for a new one. At that time, Snapchat said: “We’re introducing Snapchat Stories. A totally new way to share your day with friends – or everyone. It’s fun and ephemeral, just like Snapchat.”

snapchat stories


Moving on, in early 2015, Snapchat launched Discover, a feature that allows users to receive content provided by top-ranked media companies. Launch participants included National Geographic, Vice, ESPN, and other. Being part of Snapchat’s Discover section is big business because it puts a company in the limelight of the app, triggering great attention from their youthful user base. Furthermore, brands can partner with companies in the Discover Section for advertising purposes. They can place videos and ads within the content generated by these media brands.

Snapchat Discover

Ads API and inserts between stories

June 2016 brought the biggest advertising announcement so far. According to an article on TechCrunch, there would be ads occasionally inserted when users auto-advance from one person’s Stories to the next person’s, there would also be an Ads API, expandable Snap Ads and more. Snapchat has officially opened its arms to marketers, giving them the spotlight and the return on investment opportunities and measurement capabilities that they were looking for.


Everybody believed that the advertising announcement would be Snapchat’s biggest move in 2016. However, the interesting part was yet to come on July 6th when Snapchat launched Memories, triggering mixed feelings and reactions from audiences worldwide.

Memories allows users to save photos they take in the app and share them again later, and, for the first time, share photos and videos captured outside of the app.

Users who save a snap to their Memories will see that the latter works just like posting a photo or video to their story. “My Memories” appears underneath their story and other live stories. They can also choose to have their photos saved to the memories section in addition to their device whenever they hit the save button.

Users who want to find their saved Memories need to swipe up from the camera screen. They can search for specific snaps by keyword. The app uses Google Photos-like object recognition, allowing users to search for words like “cat” or “dog,” in addition to dates and places.

Users can share their saved Memories and photos from their camera roll to their story or directly with their contacts. Memories shared to their story will be available for 24 hours. Snapchat will indicate that it is an older photo, not one that was taken and shared on the spot.

Memories can be edited before sharing by adding text and doodles. For photos that were originally taken in Snapchat, users will be able to also add filters that were only available at the time they originally took the photo, in addition to text and doodles.

Under Memories, there will also be a password-protected section dubbed “My Eyes Only” for those snaps you don’t want anyone else to access but yourself.

The password cannot be recovered if forgotten, so users are advised to choose something that they could never forget 🙂

Snapchat takes a step back from what made it famous – ephemerality

Until July 6th, it was all about being ephemeral. When Snapchat was launched, Facebook was where people went for updates on family and friends, Instagram was all about beautiful photo content, and Twitter was the realtime pulse of the web. Although these 3 companies dominated the social media space, Snapchat counterbalanced their strengths and managed to capture the attention of a young audience (people aged between 16 and 30) mostly because the way Snapchat worked was much closer to how people communicate face to face than any other social platform. Moments are temporary, they vanish and Snapchat managed to emulate that behavior and psychology, something that no other social platform had achieved.  

With Memories, it appears that Snapchat has taken a step back from the vanishing messages that made it famous. However, this may not be a step back after all.

Memories make Snapchat appealing also to an older audience

Truth is that, while people aged between 16 and 30 may not really care about preserving memories, their parents do. Snapchat’s recent launch totally makes sense if you think about comScore’s recent findings. Although the app used to be known for its primarily teenage user base, it now has more adult users than ever. Among smartphone users aged 35 and older, 14% use Snapchat and 38% of adults aged between 25 and 34 are using the app.

“Why don’t my photos save?” They do now!

Although Snapchat’s disappearing snaps and stories are known to be the platform’s iconic elements, they have created confusion for some users who stopped using the app because they just couldn’t save anything. “What’s the point of crafting beautiful images, adding filters and lenses if you’re not going to see them again?” It’s a question that many Snapchat users asked themselves and a deterring factor when it came to using the platform. Memories definitely makes those users happy today!

Snapchat memories

Memories opens new horizons to marketers

Do you know what marketers’ biggest Snapchat frustration used to be? That they had to settle for average material (images, videos that could be taken with a smartphone camera and that oftentimes lacked the desired marketing quality). When asked what she would change about Snapchat, Lisa Stadler, Social media manager at, said: “If I were Snapchat, I would offer companies the upload possibility because there could be really nice content. I know why they don’t do it. It’s because it could destroy a little bit of their spirit.” Snapchat Memories gives marketers the possibility to create top-notch content and then upload it to Snapchat, removing all frustration that it’s not good enough for the audience. 

If you want to read more expert interviews on why your brand should be on Snapchat, what content works best and which tools to use, download‘s latest eBook on the Psychology of Snapchat Marketing. 

All in all, Memories represents a compromise that Snapchat made to satisfy every audience segment, hence growing its number of users by touching upon an older audience. While Snapchat is still the place for photos and short videos that you don’t want to share on Facebook, it’s also where you can store your favourite moments, share external photos with Snapchat friends and get more creative with your marketing strategy.

It’s not that Memories goes the opposite direction and totally changes what Snapchat used to be. It’s that it complements an already great platform by offering users more options when it comes to their content. More options lead to happier, broader and more satisfied audiences. I guess Snapchat wants to make all of us happy. Let’s see what they’re up to next! 🙂

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