There’s a reason Snapchat is the fastest growing social media channel. After downloading the app, users soon realize it is the most immersive, unique and simply fun social media platform out there. With the ability to follow your friends, celebrities, brands, media outlets and politicians, it provides a personal glimpse into users’ adventures and observations.
For those unaware of how the platform differentiates itself from the linear nature of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat is only available for mobile phones and pushes videos and photos directly to your friends (‘Snaps’) or all your followers (‘Stories’). Users are able to personalize their content with texts and drawings, and string them together to effectively create a highlight reel of their day. However, what makes Snapchat truly unique is that its content expires: Snaps disappear after a maximum ten seconds of viewing and stories are removed 24 hours after they are published. This ‘fleeting’ feature quickly captivated users, enabling them to share content inappropriate for permanent social channels – be it mundane but amusing moments, jokes or even nudity.
Unlike the passive nature of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Snapchat encourages its users to send photos or videos by automatically turning on your camera when opening the app. Further, Snapchat does not emphasize engagement metrics like followers and interactions, but useage. Snapchat scores its users on how many snaps they send and receive and awards trophies usage and feature. Milestones.
In January 2015, Snapchat began positioning itself as a media platform for brands. With the launch of its ‘Discover’ feature, brands and media outlets could create their own channels and curate daily content accordingly. CNN, The Comedy Network and National Geographic, amongst others, now serve up fresh video and print content alongside advertising. Like individuals’ photos and videos, this content expires and is more immersive than traditional web articles or videos. Ultimately, Discover enables users to experience, more than just consume, content like news or cooking tips.
Celebrities and politicians have taken to Snapchat too. DJ Khaled has emerged of a Snapchat star of sorts, using the app to broadcast his haircuts, promote merchandise, or showcase his night at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Additionally, politicians like President Obama, Prime Minister Trudeau and interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose are using Snapchat to broadcast events or provide light or informal glimpses into their days.
Beyond this, Snapchat’s filters are its latest feature captivating users. Introduced in late 2015, these ‘lenses’ scan faces and allow them to, among other features, vomit rainbows, swap faces with a friend or age 50 years. These lenses include on-screen prompts like ‘open your mouth’ or ‘raise eyebrows’ to animate the filter. With these lenses updating frequently, often incorporating holidays or events, users have fresh reasons to engage and share.
Having tested these features with my young niece and nephew, I can attest that they will make you a hit with kids as well.
Combined, these fun and personal features have attracted 200 million to Snapchat since the company was founded in 2011. On average, users post 9,000 photos and videos per second. This totals to over ten billion daily views, on par with Facebook’s video platform. And unlike Facebook’s stagnating engagement, Snapchat claims that nearly two thirds of its daily users create content daily. Additionally, Snapchat users are the demographics advertisers most crave. The platform boasts that more than 60 per cent of mobile phone users between the ages of 18 and 34 use Snapchat.
Snapchat’s immersive content and captive audiences enables brands to engage with their fans in new and creative ways. For example, the latest Alice in Wonderland movie has a sponsored lense where fans can make themselves into the Mad Hatter. Other features that bring brands to Snapchat include work with influencers, product announcements, leverage sponsorship rights with events, contests, coupons and special offers. By creating content designed specifically for Snaphat, brands are approaching consumers in a manner that makes traditional print or television ads seem archaic.
However, Snapchat’s advanced features pose significant challenges for advertisers – without captivating creative content, their message will surely be lost to the wider public. Despite this, Snapchat remains a great way to engage your existing core audience because you do not need the infrastructure or resources of Red Bull to reach and grow your base. While not always appropriate, smaller brands can use Snapchat to promote or leverage their existing events and insert themselves into wider pop culture discussions. Potential content could include a stirring testimonial on the importance of the arts, a story detailing the the struggles of a worker locked in a wage dispute, or a Snap of a company’s charitable efforts in action. No matter the budget, brands of all types can measure the consumption of their content through video views and story completions.
The rise of Snapchat showcases the evolving nature of social media and reinforces the need for brands to continually refine their approach. Experimenting with new platforms, content and targeting provides campaigns with the insight they need to optimize their advertising budgets. In the age of cord cutting and smartphone addiction, marketers must understand the tools and techniques to best tell their story.