If you have even just a bite sized understanding of current tech offerings, you’ve probably heard of Snapchat, if only because they allegedly, and famously, refused a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. But rather than being packed with features to justify it’s high valuation, it’s a simple, even crude mobile only messaging app where recipients have no more than 10 seconds to view a message before it disappears forever. It’s the darling child in what is becoming a crowded field of ephemeral messaging services. Rather than the permanence of Facebook, they offer a fleeting, in-the moment experience.
Right now it’s insanely popular with young people; core users are 13-25, which is just about as young as it gets in terms of online presence. Part of the reason they are flocking to the service is precisely because it is unlike Facebook, which is no longer the cool kid on the block. It’s much quicker, less clunky, leaves no trace, and because users control exactly who sees their content, there is no worry of parents ever discovering unbecoming content. It’s a place for them to stay online and connected to their friends without anyone really knowing it.
With a quickly growing userbase (Snapchat reports users sending more than 400 million pictures a day, making it the most heavily used photo sharing service in the world) that trends so young, the appeal to marketers is obvious. But, what are the benefits of this particular marketing channel over others, and how should brands capitalize on those advantages?
The urgency/fleeting nature of Snapchat means consumers might be more willing to act on something right away as opposed to always there offers that can be thought over. Also, for anyone to receive anything from a brand, they have to have actively chosen to add that brand as a contact. It’s not as easy to search for brands as it is on other social channels (you have to know the exact handle to find a brand on Snapchat), so if someone follows a brand it is truly because they want to.
Even to read a message from a brand is active as you have to choose to open the message. It’s not nearly as passive as Twitter or Facebook, which is why a lot of brands have been using it for in-person promotions, special fleeting offers, and the like. Things that users can actually do something with. There is also the added feeling that the communication you’re receiving is very personal, because it’s private, as opposed to Twitter and Facebook which are public interactions.
There are already brands out there taking advantage of the medium, and they serve as good examples for Snapchat marketing. For example, GrubHub organized a scavenger hunt for its fans where users would receive clues in the morning and have the day to snap back with the correct answer for a chance at prizes. Without fail Snapchat is thought to be strong with coupons (this 16 Handles promotion — where users Snap a photo of themselves in the store, then receive a coupon with a surprise discount rate to use on a return trip — is perhaps the most lauded of all Snapchat marketing efforts), contests, exclusive “behind the scenes” content (the New Orleans Saints do this), or sneak peeks at new products (Taco Bell reintroduced one of their concoctions this way).
Snapchat also recently introduced a new feature called Stories, which lets users string together multiple 10 second clips into one larger narrative. These are viewable an unlimited number of times within a 24 hour timeframe. This will surely provide some interesting opportunities for event marketing and beyond.
What’s more, just last week Snapchat released it’s biggest app update ever, introducing the ability to text and video chat with contacts. This update is so new that’s it’s hard to predict exactly what the ideal use cases are for these new features, but imagine a world where brands could converse directly with a customer in real time, and even face-to-face! That type of access could have serious ramifications in the marketing landscape. This video gives a nice play-by-play of the new abilities of the app.
One of the limitations (biggest one?) is the lack of a search function; a user has to know their exact username, which means cross promotion of a Snapchat account on other social channels to raise awareness is crucial. But, once you’ve connected with a user, there’s a good chance they’ll be eager to Snap with you.
So, get out there and start Snapping. And act quickly, as this message will self destruct in 10, 9, 8…