Since its launch back in 2011, Snapchat has gone from strength to strength. So much so that by the end of 2014, the messaging app had managed to snap up more than 60 million users sending an average of 400 million snaps per day.
Not heard of Snapchat? Don’t worry, that’s probably due to the fact that you’re either over the age of 25. Or male. Or both.
As these statistics from BI Insider show, not only are 71% of Snapchat users aged 25 or under, around 70% of their users are female.
What is Snapchat?
The premise of Snapchat is very simple. You start by taking a photo or video, customising this with a line of humorous, accompanying text and some multi-coloured squiggles. Next, choose how long you want your snap to be visible to the recipient(s) for – between 1 and 10 seconds. When you’re ready, press send and then turn your attention back to whatever important work you were supposed to be getting on with in the first place!
For users, Snapchat offers a fresh, fun and surprisingly addictive way of keeping in touch with your friends – not to mention your favourite brands.
Well, Snapchat did turn out to be a great way of keeping in touch with friends and brands - once I’d eventually got the hang of using it, that is!
After trying (and mostly failing) to watch the Snapchat intro video which requires you to place your video-obscuring finger on the screen for the duration, I then had to search online for how to connect with friends and brands because I couldn’t make head or tail of the ‘Support’ section. Following this, I fumbled about trying to take, customise and send my first ever snap.
Then, and only then, did it all start to make a bit more sense. Phew.
Why do brands use Snapchat?
Given the nature of Snapchat you may be struggling to see how businesses could take advantage of what is essentially a private messaging app to further their social media aims.
However, the fact that Snapchat is a direct messaging app means that it provides businesses with the perfect way to connect directly with their customers.
When a brand posts on Facebook or tweets its followers, it has a lot to contend with (from algorithms to competitor noise) in terms of having its update seen by as many people as possible.
With Snapchat however, this simply isn’t an issue.
In a recent interview with Adweek, Nicholas Tran from fast food company Taco Bell (one of the early Snapchat adopters) revealed: “The platform is one of the most engaging places for us to play.” Tran also cited stats showing that not only do 80% of the company’s followers open its Snaps, but that 90% of these followers go on to view the snaps in their entirety.
Could you imagine many of your tweets or Facebook posts achieving similar levels of engagement?
How do brands make the most of Snapchat?
What makes Snapchat so very different from other platforms out there is the self-destructing nature of users’ content. It’s this unique feature that lends itself very well to various different social media marketing strategies.
Preview of exclusive content
When premium cosmetic company NARS wanted to promote their latest make-up collection, the brand turned to Snapchat to release preview snaps of their new products. By allowing their Snapchat audience a time-limited, super sneaky peak at this exclusive content, not only did this help ramp up excitement levels in advance of the big launch, it also rewarded customers for their brand loyalty by offering them the chance to view such unique content.
And let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of being let in on a secret?
Similar strategies have also been used by MTV UK to promote the start of the sixth season of Geordie Shore and fast food giant Taco Bell (which has around 225,000 Snapchat followers) to promote upcoming food offers like its $1 food menu.
Another example of brands using Snapchat to great effect comes from The World Wildlife Fund’s Danish branch in the form of their #LastSelfie Snapchat campaign. By sending users pictures of endangered species they managed to use Snapchat (and the disappearing, time-sensitive nature of the platform’s content) to draw attention to the plight of the world’s most endangered animals – many of whom are on the brink of disappearance themselves.
The future of Snapchat
As you can see, there are already a number of ways that brands can use Snapchat to their advantage. And, with Snapchat having added a few new features to push the platform forward (such as Snapchat Stories and Chat) these updates have given brands even more scope for their future social media strategies.
However, the inescapable fact still remains that (for the moment, at least) no matter how good your brand’s Snapchat strategy, it’s not going to have much effect if your target audience is over the tender age of twenty-five!
Aside from this, if Snapchat wants to continue to grow and flourish long into the future, the platform needs to become more brand- and commercially-oriented. For starters, it needs to develop its user analytics section to make available the sort of useful information that brands need – notably, providing accurate data on snap reach, impressions and follower numbers.
It could also do with allowing users to search for brands – since the current system of only being able to add people whose Snapchat usernames you already know is rather restricting.
However, given news that Snapchat’s planning on building news and ads into their platform it doesn’t seem that these sort of features will be too far off.
Now, it’s over to you!
Are you a bit of a Snapchat addict? Have you come across any other examples of brands using Snapchat really well? Otherwise, has this piece tempted you to use Snapchat as part of your company’s social media strategy? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below!