There are many elements of the internet and the social media sphere that seldom make sense. The rise of user-generated content and the growing sophistication of online social networks suggests the internet operates as a perfect information system, thereby lending support to certain assumptions.
One of these assumptions is that the use of a gimmicky social network such as Snapchat does not make sense from a marketing point of view. This is an incorrect assumption; in reality, Snapchat is a highly useful channel for online marketing. The key is to use social media advertising without being obnoxious.
What is SnapChat?
For most people, understanding how Snapchat can be leveraged for efficient online marketing can be difficult. So first, what is Snapchat? Snapchat is a mobile application that runs on the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms. With Snapchat installed in a smartphone or tablet, users can produce “snaps,” which are messages that can contain photographs, drawings, text, and/or videos.
Snaps can be sent to other members of this closed social network for their ephemeral evaluation and enjoyment. Snaps only last between one and ten seconds; once that time has elapsed, the content is deleted and the recipient cannot longer access the Snap unless a screenshot has been recorded for posterity, which notifies the sender.
Snapchat was released to great fanfare due to what was initially perceived as a truly anonymous social network whereby plausible deniability could be accomplished, but this isn’t quite the case. For the most part, Snapchat does permit users to interact within the network without having to reveal too much about themselves, but identities and personal information can travel through Snapchat’s efficient messaging system; but the information does not last too long.
How Snapchat Differs From Other Social Networks
The Snapchat demographics are very indicative of this particular social network’s appeal. Teenage female users are the most positively active on Snapchat, and the app is the fastest growing app in the last six months. In other words, Snapchat is a fun and lively social media channel.
Since its debut in September of 2011, Snapchat has incorporated additional features that have been very well received by its user base. Instant messaging has given way to live chat that is somewhat surreptitious, but it is still a lot of fun. There’s also Snapcash, a peer-to-peer cash transfer and payment system that is not as secretive as the rest of the network.
What sets Snapchat apart from major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ is its approach to marketing and advertising. Snapchat does not capture as much personally identifying information from users; therefore, this young network lacks the precise marketing segmentation tools of Facebook. This does not mean Snapchat is not conducive to marketing; in a way, some analysts have compared Snapchat to the Golden Age of radio and television advertising in the sense that brands can think outside the box in terms of being creative and engaging.
Although being a new and fresh network certainly helps, these are not the only attractive factors for brands and advertisers to establish a presence on Snapchat. To a great extent, users of this network are similar to captive audiences tuned into their favorite radio or television shows, and they are actually curious to see how brands adjust themselves on Snapchat
The Neat Marketing Features of Snapchat
It only took a couple of years for Snapchat to fully embrace its current marketing ethos. It started with Stories, which is a straightforward feature that allows brands to share interesting snaps that last for 24 hours instead of the standard 10 seconds. Multiple Stories can be broadcast by brands, and they work in a similar fashion to Twitter updates.
Just like on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and LinkedIn, the Stories shared on Snapchat will not work if they are blatant pieces of self-promotion. The idea is to be creative, friendly, and social. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, for example, culinary website GrubHub shared interesting stories about the massive amount of chicken wings scarfed down by Americans during that major sporting event.
Not long after Stories matured as a branding feature on Snapchat, the network released Discover, which allows brands to firmly establish themselves in the network. Discover follows a developing trend in social media, which involves users directly visiting Facebook Timelines, Twitter profiles, LinkedIn Company Pages, etc. Social media netizens are not as enthused as they used to be in terms of checking their news feeds; many are going straight to the source because they feel more comfortable seeing content from their favorite brands.
Delivering Real-Time Content for the Snapchat Generation
Online marketers are learning the ephemerality of Snapchat appeals to users, who are ready to become loyal to the brands they enjoy. To this end, brands such as Mountain Dew are seizing the moment when creating their Stories and Snaps, which will be archived in their Discover profiles for the benefits of their followers. For example, during the Super Bowl, Mountain Dew encouraged Snapchat users to take screenshots of their Stories so they could measure engagement, much like the Facebook “Like” button works.
Mountain Dew is a great example of brands using Snapchat effectively with fresh and relevant Stories. During the Super Bowl, the soft drink giant launched Kickstart, a new flavor that was heavily promoted on Snapchat right before kickoff. Snapchat is a newer social platform, and one with which many marketers may not be familiar. Far from being a blip on the screen of online marketing, Snapchat has a growing potential to reach a younger audience.
Have you had any success with Snapchat marketing? Please share your experiences in the comments below.