Snapchat as a marketing tool: is it worth it?


Unless you’ve lived in a smartphone free parallel universe, or had your head under a rock for the past 5 years, you will have heard of Snapchat. With 200 million active users, all fascinated by 10 second snapshots, Snapchat has gone from strength to strength. With 9000 snaps shares every second, and being currently valued at $16 billion, the Financial Times has charted that it’s set to make Snapchat profits of $300-350 million this year.

Every morning we wake up and check social media, no matter which order we do it in: whether Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, the latter is always a part of the ritual. That cheeky little ghost now haunts a large majority of our phones; even overtaking Twitter recently in download numbers for Androids. Making the transition from a ‘pure’ social media outlet to one filled with ads can be a difficult road to tread. But Snapchat are doing it right — and the numbers are showing.

So what’s the big deal?

In short Snapchat allows you to send 10 second photos or videos: sharing a brief moment with someone anywhere in the world. Since it’s simple early beginnings, it has now evolved into a multifunctional platform. Gone are the days where you’ll send a simple snap without at funny filter, outrageous sticker, or follow up with a direct message. The app’s story function also lets users create 24 hour stories, retelling our day through a series of clips and images in real time. Snapchat has taken voyeurism to a whole other level.
Starting life as a college project, it’s creators (Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, and Bobby Murphy) focused on the app’s usability rather than branding. This user friendly app, fronted by “Ghost Chilla” has become one of the fastest growing social media outlets of late, taking lead from the success of Facebook and Twitter. But the difference with Snapchat? It is immediate, fast paced, and always evolving: just like the people using it. With 71% of Snapchat’s users being between 18 and 34, Snapchat is looking to be the future of social media and is the strongest contender to take the throne from the all powerful Facebook.

Big for business?

With so many of us are checking Snapchat so often, brands are now capitalising on its power. Fast food kings Mcdonalds and KFC were amongst the first in the UK to get on board with branded filters, adding a little more deliciousness to every snap. Fizzy drink favourite Pepsi also got in on the act early, creating a ‘Chelfie’ filter, transforming snappers into cheeky cherry faced cherubs. Now, Geofilters are set to change the game again. Only available for Snapchat users within a set radius and for a set amount of time, they can be specifically targeted and run in parallel with wider PR campaigns. Think localised filters: each changing, for example, dependent on which London Borough or county you might be in.
As well as filters, brands have been muscling in on stories of popular events, adding branded content between snaps. With more young people turning to social media rather than their TV screens for entertainment, it’s a no brainer for brands to also focus their attention on the smaller screen. Snapchat makes advertising seem more integrated and natural: rather than a ‘hard sell’ TV ad which forces itself on to our screens.
Brands are also using Snapchat to give an insider’s look at exclusive or international events. With content being cheap to produce, but far reaching, Snapchat has given brands a new opportunity to create and aggregate user content for their own good. Just take a look at this year’s Coachella coverage for example, using festival goers 10 second snaps to create a story of the weekend viewed by 40 million people worldwide.
So maybe we’re not all as big as Mcdonald’s, or cool as Coachella, but there are spades of ways Snapchat can help your business to grow and keep up with the ever-changing world of social media. To help you out we’ve managed to narrow it down to the top 7, just to make it easier for you guys. We know, thoughtful, right? Here goes…

1. Teasers

Teasers are a great way to show behind the scenes content of your brand. Customers love viewing ‘unseen’ content, and then connect to a brand on a personal level— after all, who wouldn’t want to know what’s going on backstage!
This type of ‘teasing’ on Snapchat can also create a buzz around new products and new ideas, and can be a great way to get customers excited before a launch. Getting people talking about products that haven’t even been launched yet? Now that’s impressive marketing.

2. Offers and promotions

We’re so used to getting millions of emails a day, offering us this discount or that offer, and more often than not, we just ignore them because we have better things to be getting on with. On Snapchat, brands can send snaps of offers: the audience can then screenshot them, and use them either in store or online. Business can easily measure how successful the campaign was by how many people screenshotted the snap, or used the code.

3. Story telling

But really, what are you trying to say? It can be really hard to tell a story on social media whilst keeping people entertained. By using ‘My Story’ on Snapchat, you can add snaps/video that will be visible to users for 24 hours, which gives you the opportunity to bring your audience a digestible, creative, and engaging message.
Businesses can create a succession of videos (each 10 seconds long), which can be as long as you want, and create a ‘multi-story telling’ effect. This is a great way to get your brand’s message across in a more unique and interesting way.

4. Fun and excitement

Only being able to see something once, and for a short period of time, clearly adds to the fun of Snapchat, and is probably why it has been so successful. This adds a real ‘fun’ aspect to your brand: provided of course that your content is worth watching!

5. Fast and memorable

Since your snaps can only be 10 seconds long, which is a considerably short window to capture the customers’ attention and effectively deliver your message, you really need to sit down and think about what exactly it is you want to push in front of them. This means that you’ll only end up putting out content that is completely necessary: content that’s easy to engage with, and sticks in your audience’s memory.

6. Interaction

Yes, it’s the classic ‘I’ word that’s used so often when talking about social media, and too right! Snapchat is a great way to have your audience interact with you – which will most probably be through competitions. For instance, you can get your audience to send in snaps of them doing various things to enter competitions, etc. These can also be reused as other pieces of social content on other platforms, too: win!

7. Filters

Amidst all the noise we’re making about Snapchat, it’s no wonder brands have cottoned on to the fact that it’s where we all are. Snapchat however has also have cottoned on to the fact that brands want to be there, and they’re getting personal in helping them create a presence.
Introducing Snapchat ‘filters’ or ‘lenses’. Essentially, these are stickers, frames, images and movement sensitive animations that can be put over your images or videos. It started with Snapchat adding cool filters to make our images more fun, especially with location filters — these change depending on where you were, with each place sporting it’s own fun, relevant filter. This is a great way for brands to be more in touch with their customers, and it’s also great for establishing brand awareness. Get creative with location specific campaigns, or plan in parallel with a big event you’ve coming up: it will create a social buzz around your brand and your event an extra edge!

Admittedly for some brands, Snapchat isn’t the right route as their audience is nowhere to be seen on this platform – but for any business targeting young millennials, this is where it’s at. You’d be foolish not to get involved!
If you would like some help with Snapchat marketing, give us a shout…

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