June 23rd, 2016

Back in 2011 when Snapchat launched, it didn’t appear to have much of a future beyond…well…’those’ pictures. Now that the elephant has been banished from the room let’s look at Snapchat in 2016. Once the reserve of teenagers looking for a quick, fun and more liberal method of communication, Snapchat has since evolved into an impressive multifunctional social media platform. With a wide user base of 100 million active users, the app is ideally positioned as a potentially valuable marketing tool. However, despite the convincing statistics, Snapchat does not seem to generate the same level of marketing and advertising attention as its fellow social media platforms. Whether this has been fuelled by doubts over its longevity or concerns over the timing restrictions on media output, we believe it comes down to the inertia of using a new and unique app.

Short snappy visual content forms the foundations of Snapchat. The timing constraints make the platform unique but also daunting for marketers looking to pull off successful campaigns. Nevertheless, the live and fast-paced nature of the content is characteristic of the modern digital era. With the increasingly short attention span of the digital generation and the proliferation of information at their fingertips, marketers need to start adapting accordingly.

Evolution

As with any successful social media platform, Snapchat has evolved leaps and bounds from where it started in 2011. Various features have been added over the years which have enhanced and transformed the app from a quick way of sharing photos to a multifunctional platform. Snapchat now offers an unrivalled amount of communication methods including phone calls, video calls and private messaging, while also encompassing a diverse range of media, including photos, videos, drawings and audio.

In combining so many functions into one platform it appears as though Snapchat is attempting to become the go-to communications app. As TechCrunchput it:

“Photos that self destruct in 10 seconds aren’t even the point of Snapchat anymore. With today’s launch of Snapchat 2.0, Snapchat wants to be your phone.”

One of the most popular additions to the platform has been the Snapchat stories. These allow people to share their daily happenings with friends and followers in a quick and interactive way that takes minimal time for the viewer. In addition, the key news and media outlets also feature heavily on this page, from Mail Online to Food Network. This section of Snapchat opens up a valuable space for marketers and influencers to directly reach their audience in an effective and innovative way.

How have businesses used it?

As businesses are gradually coming to the realisation that Snapchat offers a wealth of opportunity in terms of marketing and advertising, there have been a selection of brilliantly creative strategies. One of the earliest and most successful Snapchat campaigns was from Audi, who teamed up with The Onion to create ‘all the news that isn’t football’ during Super Bowl Sunday. The comic snaps generated an unprecedented amount of engagement, with over 100,000 snap views, 37 million impressions on Twitter and a combined total of 17,000 new followers across their social media channels:

A mind-bogglingly simple and cost effective way of sparking conversations around the brand and therefore obtaining invaluable exposure. In addition, by using Snapchat, Audi were able to slice through all the advertising noise that accompanies the Super Bowl and engage with their audience on a unique level that proved highly advantageous.

Should your business be using it?

Due to the combination of media forms that Snapchat offers, there are a myriad of opportunities and ideas just waiting to be executed. From using celebrity influencers and hosting competitions to comic pranks and more quirky concepts, the possibilities are endless. That’s a really exciting prospect for marketers and businesses alike.

Every business should be using social media as part of their overall marketing strategy and there is no reason why Snapchat should not be integrated into your social output if it is where your audience are. Nevertheless, it is worth bearing in mind that the user base of Snapchat is young, even more so than other social platforms, with nearly 85% of users in the 16-34 age category.

However, if your target audience are young and engaged with technology then you should definitely be considering Snapchat as a means of communicating with them. Ideal for real-time social media marketing, Snapchat combines the live, conversational feel of Twitter with the strong visuals of Instagram, delivering an overall more personal experience to the user. The consumer will feel more connected to the personality of the business, more involved in its outputs and will therefore be more emotionally invested in the brand as a whole.

How to use it

A social media marketing campaign on Snapchat is an opportunity to be creative and use a little imagination. There are so many ways to use the platform, it is impossible to devise an exhaustive list but here are a few snippets of advice from the social media experts here at Yellowball:

> Bear in mind the casual, conversational nature of Snapchat when devising your strategy. Anything too formal or corporate will not come across well within the informal margins of Snapchat. Similarly, do not lose all sense of professionalism but aim to build a fun, relatable brand personality.

> Many of the most successful Snapchat marketing campaigns have been those which make people laugh. Comic content is highly shareable so it’s worth demonstrating your good sense of humour to your audience.

> Make the most of the live quality and give the audience access to exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures and videos. This kind of private, casual content does not always work as well on other digital platforms so make the most of Snapchat’s informal backdrop. This is also a great approach for any live events so that the consumer can get up close and personal to the action.

> Host competitions and promotions via Snapchat to encourage more of your consumers to follow you and to create user-generated content. This promotes two-way communication between the brand and the audience, establishing a valuable relationship.

> If you have a bit of money to spend then it’s worthcollaborating with an influencer to create some great content that can be amplified to a huge following. Make sure that your brand resonates with your chosen influencer’s audience and that they are experienced in using Snapchat effectively.

> Due to the time constraints on photos, Snapchat is also the perfect platform to provide sneak previews and teasers of any upcoming products or events.

Conclusion

Snapchat will inevitably continue to evolve into an all-singing, all-dancing digital platform, opening up a multitude of marketing opportunities for businesses. It offers your brand the chance to showcase a fun personality and to interact with users in a way that no other social media platform can provide. The informality of Snapchat may not suit your brand and that’s fine, as long as you are making use of other digital platforms in a more professional context. However, the younger generation are increasingly becoming more personally attached to brands if they can display a level of relatability, opening up plenty of opportunities for businesses to connect with their audience.

So, should marketers be taking Snapchat seriously? Absolutely.

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