Apparently, the incredible functionality of our smartphones, which can send texts and make calls with the greatest of ease, isn’t enough to impress modern society’s younger generation. Instead, they are choosing to download an increasing amount of instant messaging, photo sharing and video calling apps from social networking sites, as our highly-connected world becomes smaller every day.
So much so that brands and businesses are starting to take note. Multinational corporations such as Microsoft and Facebook have already capitalised on this with their respective acquisitions of Skype and Facebook. But what about smaller organisations? Are there opportunities to be had?
An interesting case in point is Snapchat, which remains one of the most noteworthy photo messaging applications out there. Some hugely influential companies such as McDonald’s, Audi, and Taco Bell have started to target consumers on this new publicity medium. However, with so many other resources at a SMEs disposal, is Snapchat really worth the effort?
As opposed to similar apps that are also available to download, Snapchat has gained notoriety as a platform to exchange silly, strange and even obscene images. Why? Because users set a time limit on how long a recipient can view the picture for. After that, they disappear forever. So even if you take an unattractive or indecent selfie, it would only exist for 10 seconds or less.
But Snapchat recently introduced some new features, which include text messaging and video calling. This not only gives existing users more communication options, it also invites new smartphone users to download the app who were previously put off by Snapchat’s somewhat juvenile nature. While these new additions will put it in direct competition with similar titles such as WhatsApp and Viber, Snapchat does have a few distinguishing advantages…
Other instant messaging apps are simple tools of communication, which serve a single purpose and not much else. However, by viewing a photo for as long as possible or waiting for an immediate response, Snapchat users probably spend a lot longer on this app compared to alternatives. What’s more, these new features will probably increase participation and appeal.
With notifications to know when friends are online and the ability to make instantaneous video calls, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel believes real time conversations are a distinct possibility. “Ideally you have these serendipitous moments where you and I are both available at the same time,” he told The Verge.
With the ability to quickly display promotional messages and target customers on an app where users are spending a lot of time, businesses can achieve two marketing objectives that are becoming increasingly difficult – grabbing the audience’s attention and increasing engagement.
The instantaneous and immediate nature of the Internet has given us the ability find out whatever we want, whenever we want. On top of that, the popularity of mobile browsing is going through the roof and we no longer rely on traditional sources to discover everyday information. Therefore, Snapchat presents brands with an opportunity to deliver relevant content quickly and effectively while giving users the chance to discover further information with a defined call to action.
Even though Snapchat can help any business promote its products or services through visual storytelling, it is important to recognise the demographics of this particular platform. The vast majority of users are 19 to 29-year olds, so if your target market does not include this age group, it might not be a worthwhile process.
However, the potential for brands with a young audience is vast, as you’ve effectively got inexpensive access to active and involved consumers. Images are incredibly powerful marketing tools and with Snapchat Stories, there is the ability to add narratives to your campaign too. This feature enables you to combine multiple images together to tell a story over time, rather than just a few seconds. Therefore, followers of your brand could be waiting with baited breath to receive the next instalment.
Last year, MTV UK used Snapchat incredibly effectively to promote Geordie Shore. It sent out exclusive photographs and videos of the television programme, which included reminders of when it was on. Vice-president of marketing, creative and publicity Jo Bacon said: “Snapchat completely lends itself to the creative concept for series six, offering us a direct marketing route to our fans by reaching them on their most beloved devices.”
Popular retailer the Co-op has also utilised the platform but was conscious of Snapchat’s main audience. It directly appealed to students by sending them £30 laptop discount codes before the offer disappeared. “Following this Snapchat campaign, we will be following up with two further social media campaigns, both with the intention of increasing awareness and consideration,” said Gail Lyon, social media lead for the Co-operative Group.
There is no doubt that mobile marketing will become progressively more important in the years to come. And seeing as images tend to resonate with Internet users more than text-based updates, applications like Snapchat provide unique opportunities.
Short attention spans and information overloads give Snapchat a distinct advantage, as promotional images can be quick and to the point. Furthermore, the entertaining nature of this app enables brands to create a buzz around its products and actively interact with the audience.
At the same time however, businesses need people to follow them on Snapchat in order to send content. Unless you create a specific landing page or offer a particular discount code just like the Co-op, there is no real way of tracking success either.
Ultimately, a lot will depend on the goals and objectives of the business in question. A small to medium sized organisation that has an active social media footprint with a young and involved audience could easily promote products through Snapchat using entertaining visuals. Any other company or corporation might struggle though.
– This post was written by Emma Vince – former Digital PR Lead at Tinderpoint.