Snapchat vs Live Streaming & Social Media

Snapchat vs Live Streaming & Social Media

Before I get into the meat of this article, I have to admit, I was initially very against the idea of Snapchat because I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of disposable content that disappears after 24 hours. For quite a long time, I didn’t understand how it made any sense at all compared to other social media platforms.  

This was mainly because after spending the last 5 years building multiple successful social media and photography page profiles including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, 500px, and Flickr, I find comfort in the fact that everything I’ve ever posted online is still in-tact and available for people to find. I’ve always liked the idea that all of that hard work, time, and dedication has left me with strong profiles, and in some cases, great SEO value with the search engines. 
So why the sudden change of heart about using Snapchat? What took me so long and why am I comparing it to Live Steaming? Well, here we go… 
  • One: Bandwidth Issues. 
While Lee Morris, Patrick Hall and I were on the road together shooting the content for our Photographing The World Tutorials, Periscope was rapidly becoming the latest craze in live steaming video content. I remember Patrick telling me something like, “Dude, like with the amount of cool places you go all the time, you could like totally have a massive following on Periscope. You should totally install it.” **Note - that may not be an exact quote, but in my head, it sounds like what I remember him saying. ;)
Anyway, I thought a lot about what Patrick said and it made sense. I mean, sure, why not give it a try right? What could possibly go wrong? 
Well, on my next return trip to Le Cinque Terre in Italy, I was stoked to make my first live broadcast to the Periscope world from one of the most beautiful vantage points in Italy. But, after getting it all set up and ready to stream, It turned out that I didn’t have enough bandwidth to support a live stream. 

Vernazza - The first location where I tried and failed to Periscope.

So, disappointed that I couldn’t periscope in Vernazza, I tried again in Rome with my Italian sim card (3G connection) and had the same exact problem - more bandwidth issues on location. 

Rome - The second place I tried and failed to Periscope

Later in the year, out in the field in Meteora Greece - one of the most beautiful places in the world, again, the same issue. Even as I write this post in Bhutan for example, it's absolutely impossible to live stream from here. 
Essentially, every time I was somewhere super beautiful that I wanted to share on a live stream, I rarely had enough bandwidth to support the connection. Back at my hotel on WiFi on the other hand, I could Periscope perfectly, but who the hell cares about my hotel room? What? Am I supposed to talk about my day and tell everyone what they missed and that they should’ve been there? No. I wanted to show epic scenes in the field as I explore and photograph them in real time. 
Over the series of a few months last year, I must have tried to Periscope in a dozen different places, spread all over the world. Even if I could get a decent connection in the field, the quality of the video feed was horrible. So, out of pure frustration, I gave up on the idea of live streaming because I couldn’t make it work from most of the locations I visit on a regular basis. Without being able to utilize this on location content, I just didn’t see the point. 
  • Two: Vertical Video
Being a photographer that also produces quite a bit of video content, the idea of shooting vertical video was another idea that was initially difficult to wrap my head around, so I wasn’t initially a fan of the format for live streaming or Snapchat. 
If fact, sometimes, when walking by people just randomly shooting vertical video, I would cringe, and part of me desperately wanted to just walk over to them, flip their screen around, and say, “See, now you’re doing it right! Was that so hard?”  ** Just a note, I never did this but I was certainly tempted a few times. ;)
And then Instagram made a big update
Then, more recently, Instagram broke the square format and finally allowed us to post both portrait and landscape formats without cropping. As a travel and landscape photographer, this was very exciting for me since there were many shots that I felt worked better outside of the square format. I also started to notice that Vertical formats filled nearly the entire mobile device screen, which in turn, seemed to generated much more interaction than square or wide crops. It made perfect sense that strong images that dominated the entire screen would be far more impactful than square or wide crops. So obviously, I quickly embraced the tall IG format. 
Embracing the Idea of Vertical Video Content
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we’re constantly holding our mobile devices tall vertically and not sideways. This means that we’re also consuming more vertical oriented formats in both news feeds, social media, and photography pages. 
Historically, I’ve always matched the best formats for each individual social media channel before, so why not try to use vertical video too? Honestly, if I’m holding my phone upright anyway, I’d rather have content fill the entire screen, whether that’s video or photos. 
And Then, Benjamin Von Wong Convinced me to give it a go
Conservation Photographer Benjamin Von Wong and I are currently in Bhutan for two weeks working on a collaborative project together and when we met in Bangkok before leaving to Paro, he started talking about Snapchat. And by talking , I mean obsessively talking about it for hours, and hours, and hours. 
Hesitant at first, I slowly started to see some potential in the idea of sharing digestible content as we travel through Bhutan together. With the locations and settings we’d be visiting on a daily basis, it really was an opportune time to start. Plus, I just wanted him to shut up about Snapchat! So I decided to cave and I installed it that night. 

Both in costume, Ben Snapchats me, as I Snapchat myself filming with the DJI OSMO. (photo by: Anna Tenne)

(Ben and I will still be in Bhutan for another Week together so feel free to follow along with our adventures together. Even after that, we’re both committed to creating fun content for everyone to enjoy, so I highly recommend following Ben even if you’ve missed the Bhutan saga.)
Now, here’s why Snapchat is awesome for a full-time travel photographer like me: 
Poor Signal? No Problem!
While I’ve already explained that I can’t support live streaming everywhere I travel to, with Snapchat, I can shoot and upload small clips of video that tell a story throughout my day as I’m working either on location or just hanging out somewhere cool. Even with a slow internet or mobile connection, I can still upload the video content since it’s both low quality and capped at 10 seconds. Even here in Bhutan, I’ve been able to upload clips on 2 bars of E mobile internet. It may take a few minutes to upload but that’s still awesome! 
Additionally, if I’m out of signal, I can upload the content as soon as I regain a connection. Snapchat will always log the order of my clips and spread them out perfectly over the 24 hour life cycle, even if I upload them hours later. So even if I’m out of signal range, I can still build my daily story and maintain the clips along the 24 hour life cycle.  
Embracing The Idea of Low Quality
My entire career as a travel photographer and videographer is all about creating constant high quality over quantity, and I’ve spent the last 6 years meticulously producing a collection of both photos and videos that represent me as a serious professional that’s always striving to take things to the next level. 
Snapchat on the other hand, is the complete opposite of that. It’s quick, low quality, and sometimes shaky clips of vertical videos and images that simply place the emphasis on creative ideas, stories, and content, without worrying one bit about quality output. You can even doodle mustaches on people if you want. 
Coming from a world of trying to produce only the highest quality output, this ease in the expectation of quality footage is exactly what I love about Snapchat! I don’t have to worry about framing everything perfectly or making sure the lighting is exactly right. Hell, I don’t even need to do a video at all. I can just doodle on an image and make someone laugh. For someone that’s constantly striving towards perfection in my work, as well as across the major social media platforms out there, I find the acceptable, fun and low quality output to be a welcome relief to the norm. It’s also an easy way for me to just have fun on the fly, and share little clips of entertaining video from some of the beautiful places I visit. 
The Ultimate Behind The Scenes
If you follow me on Social Media, you’ve noticed that for the past 4 years, I’ve been sharing a series of images that I call “The Moments Between.” These are essentially behind the scenes images (usually with my camera in frame) with small stories that give my friends and audience a window into the world behind my lens. While I tend to share 3-4 of these per week on Facebook and Google+, there are thousands of moments that go un noticed. I feel that Snapchat can fill that gap of time and give my audience a true and honest window into my life on the road. I’m sort of thinking of it as The Moments Between The Moments Between - half travel show, half entertainment, and half relevant educational content. Obviously, I won’t be snapping about math. ;)

One of my many Moments Between shots I've posted to Social Media

You can’t see how many followers anyone has
After spending so much time building social media profiles and worrying about numbers, the idea of nobody being able to see anyones follower count is another awesome relief. It’s takes the pressure off building a profile and allows me to simply focus on the content and engagement, without getting wrapped up in the numbers. 
Disposable Content
While you can download your stories to your mobile device any time you want, I’m finally understanding why disposable content is so fun. It keeps us focused on the daily stories, the moments between, or simply just the small things we encounter throughout our day. It also encourages us to check Snapchat often since the content will disappear in 24 hours. This means that you have to check Snapchat often or else you’ll miss something! 

My Snapchat engagement after only 3 short days.

My Conclusion and Wrap Up
I’m only one week into using Snapchat and I’m already seeing the tremendous potential with the platform. I know I’m a bit late to the party but that’s OK. I feel like I’ve found Snapchat at the right time and I’m excited to challenge myself to create fun content every day. 
While it may not be for everyone, I spend my life on the road traveling to an average of 20-25 countries per year. For me, this is going to be a great way for people to follow along and connect with me in real time. 
Again, I’m still new to Snapchat so I thought it would be fun to share a video of my first 3 days of content in Bhutan. 
If you have any questions, feel free to post in the comments below! Happy Snapping! 
So Hello Snapchat!
It's because of all these reasons that I'm committing to producing daily content on Snapchat. If you're interested in following along with my location independent lifestyle as I travel around the world full time, either scan my QR profile in the app, or click it for the link. 
Elia Locardi's picture

Elia Locardi is an internationally recognized professional travel photographer, Fujifilm Global Ambassador, writer, public speaker & educator who spends his life shooting some of the most beautiful locations in the world. Location independent since 2012—he and his wife live a 100% mobile lifestyle and have visited more than 50 countries since 2009.

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I guess my big question is as someone who was really into the idea of Live streaming, who hasn't really gotten into yet, I feel like snap chat is a lot like IG with the short videos. Why Snapchat over IG for short snip its? Why do you personally feel Snapchat is more of an ultimate tool for BTS than live streaming? Wouldn't you think live streaming is as in the moment as it gets?

First of all, the article describes the fact that most of the places I'm traveling to do not support live streaming due to very poor or limited connectivity. Since Snapchat is capped at 10 second clips, it's easy to take small videos and upload them consistently throughout the day, creating a 25 hour story that people can watch the instant you've posted. If you're out of signal, you can upload them once you reestablish a connection.

Live streaming is great - if you have a connection to support it.

"Like, forget Periscope now that, like, Facebook does Livestream. Facebook just totally, like, killed Periscope with one bullet. You should totally start using Facebook Livestream with all the rad and amazing places you travel because, well at least I think you are like a god or something" - Direct Quote

Never got on periscope but Live Video is great - except when you're in bhutan and there's no signal :/

Dude! Like I totally knew that I'd be like really accurate when I like quoted you. In my head it sounded totally like perfect. ;)

Yes! A thousand times yes! (I am on Snapchat: travelinglens) I too am a professional travel photographer and I jumped on the Periscope bandwagon last year but had to abandon it once I was traveling quite a bit on assignment because it's just absolutely unsustainable to use while traveling. It ended up being more frustrating rather than fun. I even had to make a YouTube video explaining to people why I was no longer using it (still get asked that question nearly every day!).

I absolutely love Snapchat for this reason. I love that I can add to my story at my own pace and craft a really fun adventure to share with people. It's less committal and daunting as well compared to true livestreaming because I am not stuck doing a livestream at the expense of everything else I am trying to do (shoot photos, navigate a new city, answer phone calls, etc...).

I mean you can even do Snaps in airplane mode and then once you get to usable wifi, put them into a story. So.much.better. while traveling. Maybe one day Periscope and livestreaming tech and data will catch up with the technological expectations but that day is not today.

Where Snapchat shines over IG for short snippets is that all those short snippets get stitched into one story that I can then download! And it tells a sequential story of events of my day. Can't wait to Snap on my upcoming travel assignment this weekend in the Caribbean.

Really enjoying your snapchats! Some of the best content on that platform. Thanks and keep it up!

Who else have you found on snapchat that you like? Been a challenge finding great snappers!

Hi Ben - Having the same issue, only following a few people and Elia's content is by far THE best. I'm following people you probably already know like GaryVee, Froknows and MattDay. Going to look for you.

shonduras is my favorite.
geeohsnap, caseyneistat jarradseng are also pretty good.

thanks Ben, I am following casey on every platform haha will check out the others!