Decoding Snapchat and why it matters for business – 1

In this article, we begin a two series journey delving into Snapchat. We try to explain what Snapchat is.  We will also tackle why this application matters for our business. Next week, we will continue the series. We will learn how we can use Snapchat for business and discuss some real life examples of businesses which have succeeded at the snapping game.

In our world today, we are bombarded with promotional messages daily from all angles. Brands and marketers seek new ways to connect with a diverse and fragmented audience. And Social Media is increasingly becoming a must-do on every brand’s list.

The buzz on Social Media now surrounds Snapchat.    According to news sources, the social network now has more daily users than Twitter. 150 million people reportedly send “snaps” every day. Snapchat was initially perceived as a sexting application for teenagers. Businesses are beginning to see value in this social media platform and are getting on board. Some experts believe that a Snapchat generation could emerge, much like there was a Facebook generation before it. The Snapchat network is rising rapidly in popularity.

Snapchat is quite different from the other social networking platforms.  The app may seem to be counter-intuitive, bizarre and confusing, sometimes even alienating to some people. This perception hinges partly on the animated selfies – where people are barfing rainbows, transforming themselves into puppies and swapping faces in a photo.   That notwithstanding, Snapchat can be gold for your business, even the business of politics. Bernie Sanders, run a 9-day Snapchat advertising Campaign in January this year. The campaign featured geofilters accompanied by two Live Stories.  See figure 1.

Esther Nyaadie - Social Media Consultant on Snapchat for business,
Figure 1- A Snapchat geofilter ad for Bernie Sanders. Source: wsj.com

History

The Snapchat application was developed by a small team of Stanford University students. It was launched in September 2011 and is available for both iOS and Android devices. In 2013, Facebook reportedly offered to acquire Snapchat at $3billion when the application was even yet to monetize. Snapchat is now valued around $20 billion.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a messaging application where users can send real time photos and videos to their friends (followers). Gary Vaynerchuk (a proponent of Snapchat), explains that Snapchat imitates the behaviour and psychology of everyday conversations. Normally, the conversations we have with people, are not permanently recorded, those moments disappear.

Here are some terms you need to understand when using Snapchat:

  • Geofilters: Are quick image tags that show your location. Snapchat encourages artists and designers to create and submit free Community Geofilters for their locations (city, university, a local landmark, or another public location). Brand logos are however not allowed. There is a paid for solution for Businesses and individuals who wish to use their logos and trade-marks in tagging locations. They can buy On-Demand Geofilters for their event, business, or a specific location. McDonald’s for instance has branded Geofilters for all their stores in the U.S. See figure 2
Using Snapchat for business in Accra, Social Media Marketing Consultant
Figure 2 – One of Accra’s geofilters on Snapchat
  • Filters: After you take a Snap, you can swipe left or right on the preview screen to add fun overlays called filters. These include the current time, local weather, speed or your location (Geofilters). You can also change the colour of your picture or video. The option to slow videos, speed them up and have them play backwards is available.
  • Lenses: These are the funny goofy animations that are overlaid on top of selfies.  The rainbow barf is a lens.
  • Snap: Photos and videos taken with the app. These canlast up to 10 seconds then it disappears.
  • Stories:  This is a compilation of pictures and videos which roll in a movie or story format. It is a feature that lets you add snaps to a single, event-based narrative. This series of Snaps lasts for 24 hours and are available to all those who follow you.  When you select the “My Story” option, your followers can view it in the burst of time you selected.  Snaps disappear from the screen once they are viewed. – Your friend may decide to keep it, with a screenshot or a separate camera. See figure 3
  • Live stories: Live Stories allow Snapchatters who are at the same event or a specific location to contribute Snaps to the same community narrative. An entire group of attendees, regardless of friendship within the app, can post to a single stream. See figure 3
  • Discover:  Snapchat has partnered with some publishing giants for this feature. Some of the media partners on the Discover feature include National Geographic, Buzzfeed and CNN.  See figure 3
Snapchat for business. Esther Nyaadie, Social Media in Ghana
Figure 3  – A view of the Snapchat interface. 1- My story, 2-Discover channels, 3-A Live story, 4-updates from people I follow on Snapchat.
  • Snapcode:  This is theQR code in a Snapchat profile. This is a simple way to add people to your friends list.  Just take pictures of the Snapcodes using your Snapchat camera. To add someone by snapcode open Snapchat, point the camera at the snapcode and tap the screen. You can scan my code to receive tips on Social Media Marketing. My username is exactmediagh. See figure 4.

 

 

Esther Nyaadie
Figure 4 – This is my Snapcode lets hang out . Add me on Snapchat for Social Media Marketing tips!

 

How is it different?

Snapchat is in a class of its own. It is different from other social media platforms in terms of its functionality.  For example, it is difficult to find people and brands to follow on Snapchat. Content also disappears on a rolling 24-hour schedule. Here are some other unusual items on the Snapchat menu:

  • You cannot like, share or comment on a post
  • You cannot connect with hashtags.
  • Things do not go viral
  • You cannot post links or URLs.

All the under listed features combined, make Snapchat an exceptional Social Media platform:

  • Filters, time-stamps, speed and temperature overlays
  • Design features – text layover, emojis, drawing
  • Changing voice
  • Altering image
  • lenses

Why it matters for business

“Snapchat offers something unique in the world of mostly-broadcast, feed-centric social media—intimacy at scale.” –Victor Pineiro, AdAge

Here are some reasons why you should consider using this application for your business:

  1. Attention

As businesses seek different ways to connect with their audiences, getting attention becomes paramount. This is where Snapchat has advantage over other Social Media apps. Snaps (photos and videos) are viewable for a quick burst of time (from 1 -10 seconds). it can be argued that, you have your viewer’s undivided attention when s/he opens your snap.  Because of the time window, the viewer pays attention, s/he knows the Snap is timed and not permanent.  Thus engagement in terms of views is high on Snapchat.

  1. Permission to market and interact

On Snapchat, your audience chooses to interact with you by tapping on your Snaps. A follower who taps on your Snaps wishes to view them. And since the viewer chooses to be your audience, s/he is likely to pay more attention.

  1. No competition

Snapchat is not like other Social Media platforms where advertisements and updates are included in a person’s news-feed.  Your Snaps do not have to compete for attention with other ‘posts’ and advertisements. There are also no algorithms to determine who should see your posts and how your posts should be ranked.  There are no metrics to show others how your Snap performed (like retweets, likes, comments etc.) there is thus no pressure to perform. I am not making a case for lousy content though.

  1. Targeting options

On Snapchat you get to select who you send your snaps to. If you want all your followers to see something you posted you can use ‘my stories’ otherwise you can keep as intimate as a one on one snap!

  1. Demographic appeal

Snapchat appeals to the Millennials (18-34). These are the younger buyers who are have spending power or are now coming into it. “Today’s youth are tomorrow’s customers”

  1. Give your brand a persona

You can create a persona for your brand on Snapchat because of its fun nature. According to support.snapchat.com, Snaps are meant to make conversation more spontaneous, visual and fun! You can also lull your audience in without them feeling like they are being sold to.

  1. It is a business in itself

You can make a living off Snapchat by delivering good creative content and growing a huge fan base. There are companies looking for Snapchat users with huge followings to give product reviews, recommend their goods and services etc. Major companies like Disney use Snapchat influencers to promote their products and services.

  1. Made for mobile

Snapchat’s 3v’s (vertical video views) is aimed at catering to a generation which is watching videos on their Smartphone.  Snapchat takes a Smartphone’s screen into consideration and snaps are viewed in full screen vertical mode

  1. Visual designing

Snapchat can be your go-to source for quick visual designs. You can create snaps, overlay them with all the Snapchat goodies and download the images or videos for use elsewhere.

Conclusion

Snapchat’s long term success in the social media sector is not guaranteed.  There are examples of companies that gained standing as successful tech companies but are no longer relevant. Snapchat is however currently having a good penetration rate among Smartphone-using adults. It thus appears prudent to be right in that middle of the action. If usage begins to accelerate significantly from this point forward, who knows how big it can eventually get?  No one has all the answers when it comes to using this application for business. Make an effort to watch, test, and learn with your audience always in mind.

Thanks so much for reading! Let me know if this article was useful to you through any of the communication channels listed below.

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