Why Snapchat Should be the Inseparable Addition to Social Media Strategies

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The value of a marketing platform for a brand can be gauged to a certain extent by asking these questions:

  1. Who are its primary users?
  2. How popular is it with them?
  3. Do these users fit the bill as your brand’s target audience?
  4. What is the closest alternative to target these users?

Now consider this:

Snapchat has a median user age of 18 years, with the majority of its users between 13 and 25 years of age. Facebook on the other hand, has an average user age of 40 years. The last few years in fact, have seen a sharp decline in teen users on Facebook.

Snapchat has 200 million average monthly users and was the fastest growing messaging app in 2014.

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As for the question of whether Snapchat users are a good fit for you to target, I leave it to your own best judgment. Personally speaking, any brand with an eye on the youth market would do well to be on board a platform that has proven to be as addictive and immersive as Snapchat.

The Super-Exclusive Youngsters’ Club

Snapchat is clearly a youngsters’ bastion. There’s almost an air of exclusivity about the platform that makes it so attractive to teens and young adults. Part of the reason could be that Facebook is now crawling with parents, well-meaning neighbors, assorted aunts, uncles and cousins. Hardly a place where a young person would want to share the juicy details of their daily lives. Enter Snapchat.

15 percent of all teenagers worldwide are already on Snapchat with the U.K., Sweden and the USA taking the top three spots at 39 percent, 38 percent and 35 percent penetration respectively.

According to a study carried out by Sumpto, 70 percent of college students post on Snapchat at least once a day. This number drops drastically to just 11 percent when quizzed about Facebook.

Privacy Friendly in an Age of Zero Privacy

Every day brings with it news about a brand new data breach or privacy invasion. Among the social networks, Twitter is nearly a public forum (unless you create a locked account, which defeats the entire purpose of Twitter). Facebook has been plagued with accusations of invasion of users’ privacy since day one. From selling users’ data to brands to allowing your mother to see what you were up to last weekend in graphic detail, the lesser said the better about Facebook’s privacy. The same goes for most other networks out there today.

Teens who want to share every aspect of their personal lives with their friends have learnt the hard way that anything you share online lives on forever and ever. Snapchat, with its disappearing texts and pictures, offers a completely refreshing alternative from a data privacy perspective.

It’s not just disappearing pictures, now it’s even disappearing videos. Chats that evaporate into thin air – both texts as well as video chats – offer users the promise that none of their tomfooleries or shenanigans, however X-rated, will remain online and get them into trouble later.

Snapchat takes this privacy bit really seriously too. You would think that taking a screenshot of a snap shared on Snapchat would help you circumvent its privacy controls. But no. Each time a screenshot is taken of a snap shared with a friend, Snapchat sends an automatic update to the sender regarding the screenshot so they can deal with it right away.

Even taking a picture of a Snapchat image with a second phone is tough. Snapchat makes sure that you have one finger on the screen at all times for the image /video to play. That way, handling another phone simultaneously becomes rather tough, don’t you think?

All these measures have borne fruit with the same Sumpto study quoted earlier found teens claiming that they felt their conversations were most private on Snapchat and least on Facebook.

Teens Are Spending Hours on Snapchat, Will Spend More

A social network with a highly engaged audience that spends hours using the platform. Sound familiar? I wouldn’t blame you for comparing Snapchat’s engagement levels with that of Facebook, albeit with a completely different demographic.

Snapchat realizes this hold it has on its users and is very smartly moving towards expanding their grip.

Snapchat Stories is one of their most popular features that has shown growth rates of 100 percent for the first few months since its launch. Basically it is a collection of snaps or short videos that users can create recording moments from their entire day. Each Story lasts for 24 hours and can be shared with as many (or as few) friends as the user likes. With over 1 billion daily views, Stories is a deeply engrossing experiment that Snapchat would definitely keep for the long haul.

Another twist on the shared “Stories” concept is Our Story. In Snapchat’s own words, “Our Story allows Snapchatters who are at the same event location to contribute Snaps to the same Story. If you are at an event that has an Our Story, you’ll see two options: “My Story” and the event’s “Our Story.” If you send your Snap to Our Story, it may be published and viewable by anyone.” With Our Story, Snapchat moves firmly out of the pure play messaging app territory and enters the social zone.

The latest innovation from Snapchat is the Discover feature (well, not really). So far users created their own Stories or co-created a shared Our Story with other Snapchatters. With Discover, users now have the ability to consume news about trending topics in small bite sized morsel right within Snapchat. To enable this news integration, Snapchat has officially signed up Vice, the Daily Mail Online, CNN, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic and more. Each publishers creates story bundles that remain visible for 24 hours and then disappear.

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Brands Already Love Snapchat

Starting with the 20 second trailer of Ouija – a horror movie produced by Universal Pictures in October 2013 – Snapchat opened its floodgates to advertisers for the very first time. Since then brands like Taco Bell, 16 Handles and clothing retailer Karmaloop have firmly stamped their presence on the platform.

16 Handles gives out fast-disappearing discount coupons to its fans via Snapchat in exchange for a selfie or any other activity they dream up. The big draw? Coupons can even be for 100% off!

Karmaloop’s strategy has been to tap into Snapchat’s sexting reputation and send out pictures of models in seriously skimpy outfits that vanish in seconds.

McDonald’s went truly cross-platform by integrating its Super Bowl TV campaign with its Twitter feed and Snapchat content.

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For those of you wondering by now, brands can advertise on Snapchat in two basic ways – Brand Stories and Our Stories.

Brand Stories are a collection of images that retell a brand story as it were or a short, 20 second video about the brand that gets posted to users’ feeds. Each brand story lasts for 24 hours before it gets destroyed.

Our Stories are not brand owned, but are brand sponsored. The brand in question gets featured in the form of 10 second interstitials with brand messaging embedded within these Our Story videos.

This Thanksgiving, Macy’s tapped into the live Our Stories feature and sponsored the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in a cross-channel communication coup. Snapchat is also considering launching a local version of Our Stories that will target events at a local level with an eye on local businesses marketing themselves.

Here’s a sneak peek of what it might look like:

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Where’s the Proof of the Pudding?

You can manage your marketing efforts (and measure their impact) on the mainstream social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like via analytics or management tools such as Hootsuite (B2C-focused) and Oktopost (B2B-focused). Unfortunately, in the case of Snapchat, no in-house or independent analytics tools exist that will tell you if your labors are truly yielding results.

Probably this is the reason why Snapchat commissioned a third-party study undertaken by Millward Brown. The Millward Brown 2014 Ad Reaction Study showed that 60 percent of users enjoyed ads on Our Stories while 44 percent liked Brand Stories – more than three times compared to users exposed to other regular mobile ads. The study also found that advertising awareness grew by at least 16 points among the brands that advertised on Snapchat.

Interesting numbers, those. If I were a marketer handling a youth centric brand, I’d be more than willing to invest my time and marketing dollars into this intriguing new platform, given the sheer size of the youth market that Snapchat has already cornered. Besides, as with its predecessors in the social media game, building in measurability and analytics for its advertisers is only a matter of time.

Signing Off

I am going to leave you with this hilarious though informative video by Digg on Snapchat from its most ardent users. The passion that flows through Snapchat’s core youth audience is phenomenal. Don’t take my word for it, seeing is believing!

Rohan Ayyar is a web analytics and conversion optimization specialist at E2M, a premium digital marketing agency. You can find his articles on 20+ major business publications including Fast Company and Entrepreneur, and hit him up on Twitter at @searchrook.

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