Here are the elements of a successful thirst trap:
- Be alluring. Put your best self in that selfie. Don’t be ashamed to include some cleavage or chest hair or whatever. But also...
- Feign humility. Naked exhibitionism can be tempered by underselling yourself a little. At the very least append a little “lol” to the end of your caption. Eg, “in my dumb jammies lol.” Finally...
- Go public. Throw caution to the wind, post that sucker and rack up the faves.
This isn’t just the playbook for millennials’ solemn ritual of mass-market flirtation, but precisely how Snap Inc. – i.e. Snapchat, i.e. the Mecca of thirst traps – has approached public markets. First the company positioned itself as the ultimate sexy startup, a hip melange of social-media influencers and horny teens. But on the eve of its IPO, Snap sold itself short, suggesting a price range of $14 to $16 a share, coyly undercutting expectations. Finally, following a deliriously oversubscribed share offering that brought the price up to $17, the company went public Thursday, drawing all the desperate attention of a truly shameless selfie.
As of writing, the stock is approaching $25 a share, nearly 50 percent above its pre-IPO price.
If Snap’s surge leaves you bewildered, understand the dynamics of a thirst trap. It’s not supposed to be subtle. The reaction isn’t supposed to be reasonable. It’s supposed to trigger an irresistible urge among bystanders to smash that “like” button, regardless of whether they know better. The crassest thirst traps, the ones that make you wonder who in their right mind would buy in, also happen to be the ones that generate the biggest response.
So it is with Snap. There’s no lesson here for investors, of course. We don’t need to throw a bunch of numbers at you about how Snap hasn’t drawn a profit or whatever. Maybe Snap really ought to be valued at more than CBS Corp. Or maybe it’s the Etsy of social media. Perhaps it’s the next Facebook. Perhaps it’s the next Vine. The important thing is the right people got the recognition they deserved.