You’ve seen that peculiar little ghost icon floating around all over the place, but what does it mean?
Snapchat, launched in 2011, has 100 million monthly active users. There are over 400 million snaps sent every day, almost as many as the 500 million Tweets sent per day. However, Twitter is 5 years Snapchat’s senior, and has even admitted that as many as 23 million of its users are automated. Evidently, Snapchat has something Twitter lacks: youth and personality, but how profitable is it for businesses to try and break the snap-o-sphere.
And so, as intern, and shameful member of the snap-happy generation (71% of users are under 25 years old) I’ve been tasked with the question: is Snapchat worth it for business?
What is it?
Snapchat is a fun video messaging application. ‘Snapchatters’ can use the app to send and receive photos or videos with text or drawings to their friends. However, these images or videos self-destruct after an allotted time of up to 10 seconds, unless the recipient is quickly able to screenshot the image! A user can also upload a ‘story’ to their Snapchat that all their friends can see. The story may include video, pictures or both and can be viewed and re-viewed until it expires after 24 hours. The app also has a ‘Discover’ grid, which includes many different editorial channels (i.e. Cosmo, Daily Mail) that upload news and refresh every 24 hours.
What do you like/dislike?
Snapchat is a fantastic way to communicate casually with friends as it is far-removed from the hawk-eye of Auntie Shelley who regularly prowls your Facebook page for profanities. The self-destructing element of the snap is appealing; receiving images on Snapchat is personal and candid, making a change from the generic, edited images you find on other social media sites such as Instagram. Snapchat’s new feature ‘Our Story’ means you can live follow big events happening on the other side of the world, such as New York fashion week or Rio de Janerio carnival. A user can even contribute their own image/video of the event to ‘Our Story’, adding to the community feel of the app.
Is it good for business?
As Snapchat is hugely popular with the younger demographic it is inevitable that marketers are desperately trying to exploit this platform. However, it is tricky ground; as Snapchat focuses on the personal, marketing a product, event or company while keeping it intimate and light-hearted is a challenge. What’s more, the images and videos delete themselves, making it extremely difficult to track progress and reception. Nevertheless, used in the right way, Snapchat is a fantastic way to engage with a young audience, release new products and create a buzz around a company –you’ll just have to get creative about how you measure success.
Brands who use Snapchat well:
Big businesses have been quick to jump on the Snapchatting bandwagon. In the US Heineken beer sent cropped snaps to followers as clues to surprise shows at Coachella festival. Users who responded with the right band or artist were able to get exclusive information about when the act were playing on the Heineken stage. Heineken made an excellent example of exploiting exclusive content to get people interested in the brand and buying into the brand community.
Again on the other side of the pond, fashion retailers like Michael Kors, Free People and American Eagle have used Snapchat to preview their latest clothing collections to their customers. Giving people a behind-the-scenes glimpse immediately makes them feel special and they may invest in the brand because they feel that they have personally engaged with it.
There is not much evidence of small businesses using Snapchat successfully, probably because it requires customers befriending the business on the app before they can interact with one another.
However, Snapchat’s CEO Evan Spiegel announced this week that Snapchat will be making ‘it easier for brands to be brands’ (Marketing Land, May 2015). Snapchat has previously only catered to huge businesses within its Stories and Discovery features, but Spiegel explains that 'self-serve advertising’ is something Snapchat will be moving towards in the future (Marketing Land, May 2015).
What's more, as with many social media sites, it is free and full of traffic, so there is no harm in attempting to generate some interest in your business using the app. I don’t think it would suit a brand or business which is promoting professional services or products, but if you’ve got a fun quirky business aimed at the young cool hipsters, go for it!
Just remember, there is no snap that cannot be saved and uploaded to the internet, so keep your clothes on, kids…