After a recent discussion on LinkedIn I’ve been asked to expand on my thoughts about Snapchat as a tool for business. To those of you still reeling from that statement, let me assure you that I am not joking. I would even go so far as to say that brands struggling to get engagement out of their audience should be paying close attention right now!
What’s So Great About Snapchat?
I want to start off by diving right into the notion that Snapchat is unfit for businesses. The most common reason for this sentiment is that it is solely populated by young users who burn away the hours sending scandalous content back and forth to each other. It is true that, when Snapchat first emerged, it had the largest disparity of use between teens and young adults. This essentially meant teens were using the app overwhelmingly more than young adults were.
So, why are early-adapters already incorporating Snapchat into their branding campaigns? The answer is simple; businesses are figuring out that Snapchat is a highly engaging medium. The nature of a message (snap) with such a short shelf-life commands user engagement. If a teenager is checking Snapchat while talking to a parent, you can bet that the teenager isn’t missing out on the content of a message. Message notification on the popular app make users curious, users can’t help but open new snaps as they arrive.
Snapchat by the Numbers
The proof is in the numbers! An article published on BusinessInsider reported that
Incredibly, that is a 200% increase over their total from June of this year which came in at 200 million. The best part of all this is that shared photos are not like spam visits to a website just to boost numbers. Snapchat has created a culture where its users want to share and receive messages! Messages received are indistinguishable as mass or personal communications, which allows users to feel personally engaged with the content.
In regards to business, how many sales emails make it through the spam filters and are opened by the intended recipient? Even with the best tracking software, the results do not come close to the success rate of Snapchat messages. As industry guru Gary Vaynerchuk put it when discussing his enthusiasm for Snapchat as his most valuable marketing tool currently,
It’s not how many followers you have; it’s how many care. -Gary V.
As Forbes recently discussed, one of the trends expected to continue is the dominance of image-centric content, even over text. With the growth of Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat, this should not be a huge surprise. Content conveyed by images can be processed the quickly and easily. This is where the cliche marketing phrases we all hate (i.e. “less is more!”) actually confirm the rationale behind the dominance of image content.
There is more to the business angle; Snapchat is not the only guest at this party. Does it seem like a coincidence that Instagram, Facebook’s image sharing application, just released a software update with features that compete directly with Snapchat’s service? Instagram users can now send photos directly to as many as 15 other users at once. The update even added a feature to notify the sender if a message is viewed and again if it is “liked” by the recipient.
Would the move still seem like a coincidence if I mentioned that Facebook has reported seeing decreased usage among teens? While there is no way to be entirely sure, many see it as a direct retaliation by Zuckerberg’s crew to curb the growth of Snapchat. Either way, it is safe to deduce that Facebook is certainly not going to take any chances and has taken major steps to be the leading force in the image-sharing marketplace of apps.
With all of that said,
The app is highly engaging by nature and clocks in staggering numbers that command respect. It may not last forever, but Snapchat will have its time as a highly effective marketing tool. Instead of quarreling over what service is the future and the most likely to emerge as the lone victor, businesses should recognize Snapchat for what it is: a giant hub of untapped social media marketing avenues.
Cover your Bases
I always urge my clients to have as robust of a campaign as possible. Every network presents different opportunities, advantages, and challenges. Some businesses try to publish content on one or two of the staple networks in hopes that clients will seek them out and engage them. However, as those very businesses usually can tell you, it is a very ineffective strategy. Creating a thorough, unified presence throughout a marketing campaign is the best way to grow a brand that users from all corners of the web can engage with and grow to care about.
I leave you with one more quote from Gary Vaynerchuk to take with you for the next time you hear about Snapchat:
Whether Snapchat falls off or not is totally fine by me. What I’m continually surprised about is how many people fail to realize that this is basically the same thing as modern-day hit TV shows. When a show is hot, you run ads on that show. When it falls off, you stop. At its height, Desperate Housewives was commanding a lot of advertising dollars because it was getting a lot of eyeballs. When fewer people were watching it there was less demand. That’s totally ok. – Gary Vaynerchuck
I would be happy to discuss Snapchat and other creative marketing opportunities relevant to your brand. If you have any questions please comment below or contact me at anytime!