Should you ‘get’ Snapchat?
If you are an education or youth marketer, you will likely have noticed the recent and renewed buzz on the emergence of Snapchat.
What was until quite recently considered little more than a tool for sexting teens has apparently grown up.
What’s the hype all about? As the old media saying goes, follow the eyeballs. If you’re questioning the value of Snapchat, consider this. Four years ago it had 100,000 users – globally. It now has 100 million. Australia has an estimated 3 million active users, with about 40% of 16-24 year olds using it daily. That makes it the fastest-growing social media start-up. Ever. Mark Zuckerberg obviously saw the potential early on. In 2013 he offered founder Evan Spiegel US$3 billion for it. It is currently valued at $16 billion, and continues to raise capital with ease, despite showing no profit.
So what makes it cool? Snapchat is no one-trick pony. It has evolved into a multi-faceted platform that encourages picture and video interaction between users. Snapchat takes elements from the success of Instagram and Twitter and adds its own unique flavour. While Facebook has evolved to a mass reach channel that continues to deliver for marketers who use it effectively, it is no longer the primary social connection for most youth audiences: Mum and nanna are on Facey, and it is now a mature, cluttered broadcast media – not a cool hangout.
So increasingly the more private, instant friend group conversations are moving to Snapchat. Brands who want to get noticed by these savvy younger audiences therefore need to understand and work in the space.
And how do you work in Snapchat? ? Firstly, you should become a user yourself and get familiar with the environment before deciding to commit any marketing resource. Like Facebook you can establish a brand profile, which will need to be maintained with a content strategy, and you can advertise. We’d suggest starting with a profile and a content strategy. Early on, most value and brand intelligence will come from watching how your audience behaves and interacts in the medium, then experimenting and watching other brands to find out what content works and why. The key to effective communication for brands is act as a conduit, providing rewarding or entertaining interactions between users. When it comes to advertising, the Snapchat offering is still very much in its infancy. Marketers are experimenting and making it up as they go, much like Facebook marketing was in the early days. While this may seem a little daunting, it is also exciting – there are big rewards for brands to thrive and be first movers in a low-clutter environment. What you do need to understand going in is that this is an entertaining social medium designed around casual engagement with self-destructing content. Formality and static old interruption will get you worse than nowhere. So will being inconsistent in tone and personality. On the other hand, watching how and with what your audience engages, you can plan to be relevant and entertaining. Smart brands will engage the disposability factor to keep things surprising and relevant.
Snapchat has only recently introduced advertising in Australia in some fairly basic formats being video, sponsored geo filters, sponsored lenses, and ‘Discover’ for major brand investors. As it matures you can be confident they will continue to monetise and offer advertisers some much more tailored and targeted opportunities and data access. By the time this happens, Snapchat will be old news. Youth focused brands wanting to stay ahead of the heard need to be investing in Snapchat now.