I first heard of Snapchat from my teenage cousins, which isn’t surprising since Snapchat’s core user-base is 13-24 year olds. From what I could tell based on observing them, it was a “selfie” app. I’d watch with amusement as they contorted their faces in all sorts of ways to get the best shot. I even participated in their silliness by posing with them and I’d watch them decorate their Snaps with stickers, filters and text before sending it off to their friends.
The numbers show that Snapchat is on track to be one of the biggest social networking platforms in 2016. The recent news that the messaging app averages 6 billion video views per day has piqued the interest of marketers.
As Imaginovation’s Marketing Manager, it is part of my job to investigate social platforms and determine if they will benefit ourselves and/or our clients.
I went through a variety of emotions when trying out Snapchat. First, there was annoyance. “This is an app for kids, “I thought as I looked at the available stickers to add to my photo for my very first Snap. Then, there was delight. Sure, it was silly, but I was having a lot of fun sending Snaps to my friends. Confusion quickly set in when I realized that searching and sharing wasn’t what I expected. Here’s everything I learned during my first 24 hours on Snapchat:
It’s a messaging app
The simplest way to explain Snapchat is that it is a messaging app. You send a message to a friend in the form of a video or photo. There is also a chat function. What makes Snapchat unique is that the message is only available for a short period of time. After you view the message, it “disappears” after only a few minutes. Of course, anyone can take a screenshot of the message, so it could “live” for a lot longer than Snapchat leads you to believe.
It’s easy to see why young people like it
Young people used to flock to Facebook, but according to the demographics, the average age of Facebook users has increased. Did young people start leaving Facebook because their parents showed up? Were they ever there to begin with? Snapchat is appealing to young people simply because it’s unlikely that their parents are there. They probably just don’t understand it.
There’s a perception of privacy on Snapchat. Snapchat users can find and add each other by username, Snapcode or phone number. You can’t message a Snapchatter unless they add you back. Other than a username and a Snapcode, there is no way to identify yourself. There are no user profiles. Content is only viewable by users that follow you and even then, it only lives for a short period of time.
Another reason young people like Snapchat is just general silliness. If I had this app when I was 16, I could easily see myself being on it constantly. It’s fun to decorate your photos with silly stickers and sayings. Here’s a Snap of me getting all sticker happy on Snapchat:
So fun, right?
Search is difficult
As a Marketing Manager, I want my clients to be found! After unsuccessfully entering terms relevant to one of our current clients, I quickly learned that being found is not easy on Snapchat. As I mentioned earlier, there are no profiles. All you have to go in the username. You can’t search for topics or brand names. You have to know the exact username of the Snapchatter you are seeking or have access to their Snapcode in order to follow them and see their content. I ended up leaving the app and finding a list of brands using Snapchat. I entered their usernames so I could see their Snaps.
Content isn’t shareable
During my first 24 hours on Snapchat, I saw lots of awesome content that I would love to share with you. I saw a funny cartoon about bad hair days from Cosmopolitan. I saw a funny bit of stand-up from Comedy Central. Unfortunately, there was an absence of all the “Share on Twitter, Share on Facebook, Share Everywhere” buttons that we are so accustomed to seeing on content. Even if I told you about it, you would only have a short time to check it out before it’s gone.
There are tools available for brands
If search is difficult and content can’t be shared, how can brands use Snapchat? There are a few ways:
Your brand can purchase a button on the Discover tab, which is basically a live stream of continuous content from your brand. It allows you to reach ALL Snapchat users, eliminating the need for users to add you via your username.
Any Snapchat user can create a story, which is a series of Snaps that lives for 24 hours. You can continuously add to the story so that your brand remains in your followers feed. You can manage the settings so that anyone can see your story, but remember, users can only search for you by your Snap username. There are also Live Stories, which are event-specific. If you tap on one, you will see a series of Snaps about the event through the eyes of many Snapchatters.
- Branded filters
Snapchat users can choose from a variety of filters that overlay their images and videos. Brands have the ability to create filters specific to their brand. Here’s an example:
The filters are geo-specific, so you have to be close to NC State University in order to use this particular filter.
Has your business started using Snapchat? Are YOU on Snapchat? My username is AmyatImagin. Snap me any time! Always happy to Snapchat about marketing trends or whatever else is on your mind.