Comedian Tanmay Bhat lit a fuse last week by posting a Snapchat video mocking two of India’s greatest icons, but not everyone is displeased.

The controversy comes as a boost for Snapchat itself, which has been slow to gain acceptance among India’s teens and millennials.

Bhat used Snapchat to post a snap story (video), using the messaging app’s face-swap feature to mock cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and singer Lata Mangeshkar, both winners of Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour. As the video went viral and fuelled protests, more youngsters signed on to the app, making parents wonder at the dinner table: What is Snapchat?

So what exactly is Snapchat?

A fun messaging application for sharing moments. You can take a photo or a video, add a caption or doodle, and send it to a friend or add it to your Story to share with some or all of your friends. Friends can view the messages, or ‘Snaps’ in Snapchatspeak, for up to 10 seconds, and then it disappears. Just as the app was gaining traction globally, it became infamous for its users exchanging nude pictures and videos.

Started in 2011 in Los Angeles by Evan Spiegel, Snapchat which was initially seen as a teen fad, later became wildly popular with millennials. Nearly 100 million heavily-engaged Snapchatters use the app every day. Over 60% of people who use Snapchat daily create content every day.

The company created headlines earlier this month, when Techcrunch reported that Snapchat had raised $1.8 billion. They also obtained a leaked deck revealing Snapchat’s revenue and forecasts, where Snapchat had projected its 2016 revenues as anywhere between $250-350 million and between $500 million- $1 billion for 2017.

So what sets apart Snapchat from, let’s say, Twitter?

Mark Suster, an American startup blogger explained in a blog post that Snapchat’s big innovation was “stories" in which users could post everything from their last 24 hours in one “reel" that would combine videos and photos plus fun (filters, face swaps, emojis, stickers).

“On Twitter if I post at 7:35am and again at 8:15am there will probably be 150 Tweets in your stream between those meaning there is no cohesion in my successive Tweets and meaning that if you log in at 8:30am your chances of seeing my 7:35am Tweet is slim-to-none. That’s not necessarily good or bad — but it’s different. On Snapchat when you click on my “story" you see every post of mine sequentially for my entire past 24 hours. This is a big deal. If you don’t want to “complete" my story you simply swipe left and you’re on to the next story."

Snapchat’s story structure allows snapchatters to create a more cohesive storyline, especially when consuming other snapchatters’ content and more importantly, Snapchat has what Suster calls “a much longer half life." Importantly, Snapchat is not ephemeral. “People go to their stories and see whom they follow and decide whether to consume that story. So the consumption of my stories remains very consistent throughout the 24 hours when a story is live. I put a story out once and I’m done and for consumers they know that they don’t have to log in at the same time I’m producing in order to see my story."

By developing crazy features like face swapping (which Bhat executed with perfection), attaching an emoji to a moving object in a video, or upgrading its whole chat experience, Snapchat has ensured constant engagement with its growing user base.

In India, Snapchatters are growing, it is catching on quick with teens and while we don’t have any numbers to substantiate, it is people like Tanmay Bhat who will give Snapchat the much needed fillip.

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