Snapchat: The One Millennial That Marketers Need In Their 2017 Social Marketing Strategy

March 17, 2017
by Nik Souris and Steven Bellach

With the recent initial public offering of Snap, Inc., we thought it provided a good opportunity to explain how their mobile app, Snapchat, can fit into your marketing/social media plan.

Whether or not your target audience includes Millennials, Snap – a millennial of its own in the generations of technology companies recently flooded with apps and social networks – is the hottest thing that defies social network protocols and even calls itself a camera company. Regardless of categorizations, it’s killer app, Snapchat, is a “must consider” for today’s marketer. 3 facets to keep in mind: Your brand’s target audience vis-à-vis Snapchat’s audience, the principles and elements of the Snapchat app and how to leverage the app or it’s principles in your social strategy.

Snapchat’s user base is large and evolving

Business Insider claims the company sees 158 million daily users open their messaging app on average 18 times each day. While 60% of the US users are Millennials (13-24yo), over 50% of new users are coming from people over 25 years of age and those folks are spending 20 minutes per day messaging contacts, watching videos and discovering content from major entertainment, sports, music and news publications. With a growing install base and syndicated content from mainstream publishers, Snapchat provides a platform for businesses to reach a broad range of both consumer and business customer segments through their employees’ personal use of the app.

The magic of a disappearing act

At Snapchat’s core is the idea of living in the moment and ephemeral messaging - messages lasting a very short time. In the case of Snapchat, ephemeral means up to 10 seconds and only for the people with whom you share the message OR up to 24 hours for posts to one’s Snapchat story. Messages or posts are called Snaps and come from the app’s opening cue to share a photo or video. Given the ephemeral dynamic, users tend to be more carefree with their content as the often paralyzing or intimidating barrier of “is my picture perfect” is greatly reduced. On the flipside, the idea of missing something in a user’s Snapchat story keeps contacts coming back to the app to see how the story transpires. Other core elements to note include:

  • Mobile first/mobile only – Snapchat is a mobile-centric platform
  • Snapcodes – unique bar codes that help users share their account info in lieu of phone numbers or usernames
  • Snapchat opens with camera lens – this ties into the point of visual communication. Users then caption, draw or sticker their visual and post to their Snapchat story or selected contacts.
  • User managed anti-spamming mechanism – by forcing a user to check-off on who receives a snap, communications tend to be more controlled and true to live interactions.  Recently released groups and Snapchat stories allow for easier targeting and mass distribution of snaps.
  • Notifications of when your snap is clipped – this alerts a user when their snap is captured and by whom. Users can also see who has viewed their snaps.
  • The various fun factors in Snapchat – these include lens filters for time, speed, temperature as well as battery power, geography and sometimes altitude; selfie lenses: some with facial expression triggers and sometimes with voice-changers; emojis, stickers to place on the images and then there is a type-pad and pen, both with pallets so users can add their colorful thoughts and comments.

Unlike other social networks where users sometimes get caught up in the conventional “need to be liked” mindset or feel a need to earn the most points or rewards (btw, Snapchat has these too), Snapchat users seem to be less obsessed with social validation.  They appear to be satisfied by their ability to self-express and have graduated from the “Generation Like” era.  This dynamic, in general, helps to provide a more authentic and personal experience; something that is far too easily lost in today’s social communications.

Snapchat in your social strategy

While co-branding your business with Spectacles (Snap Inc.’s cooler than Google Glass video taking glasses that integrate with Snapchat) isn’t likely; there are growing opportunities for businesses of all sizes to market/advertise through Snapchat. Among the most promising options are:

  • Snapcodes – Set up your account to claim your place on Snapchat and publish you unique code on existing netowrks and in print (free to use)
  • Traditional ideas – Scavenger Hunts, Daily Deals and Contests (free on the app)
  • Geo-filters – the graphic overlays that are only available in specific geographies (priced on duration of campaign and geography covered)
  • Selfie lenses - the funny face making options. (priced on audience reach)
  • In-line sponsored content – usually seen in between viewing snaps in a users feed of the Discover section (priced on audience reach)
  • Influencer marketing – find a celebrity or local figure with a Snapchat following to promote your brand (price is negotiated with influencer)

Snapchat is currently most effective at building awareness, and giving existing customers an opportunity to share their love for your brand. While attempts to bridge calls to action into the app have been made, Snapchat for the average business is not optimal for sales conversion.

As with any marketing initiative, it’s important to know your target audience and where they spend their time.  If Snapchat is where your target audience currently resides, or where they may be headed, you can get a jump on your competition and be perceived as a leader and innovator in your category.  Or if your target audience isn’t on Snapchat, it may be worth considering the dynamics of ephemeral messaging and effects of creative visual communication for use across your marketing communications channels.

Are you utilizing Snapchat or ephemeral messaging as part of your marketing plan? We’ll discuss Snapchat and more in the Social Media Marketing course at Rady’s Center for Executive Development on March 29 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more details and course registration click here

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