When I first heard about Snapchat, it was from younger colleagues of mine urging me to create an account and join in on the fun. My first response, “Isn’t that just for sending nude photos that you think will disappear?” was quickly followed by my second comment of warning, “… and if you really think they’re vanishing into thin air, you’re going to regret it when Snapchat is hacked and your nudes are all over the Internet.”
I wasn’t wrong in my second piece of commentary. Snapchat was later hacked, multiple times. The worst of which (now called “The Snappening”) happened in October 2014, when 98,000 photo and video files sent by Snapchat users were leaked online. Since then, Snapchat has taken strides to increase security and become a better advocate for its users.
I was, however, wrong in my first assumption about Snapchat.
In fact, none of my colleagues were using it for the naughty photos I assumed the app was meant for — at least none of them admitted to it. What we did use it for (and yes, I ended up creating an account) was what I like to call nano-conversations: quick little snaps and captions of randomness … something noteworthy, something funny, something gross on the sidewalk, and sometimes, admittedly, a 10-second video of my adventures in karaoke on a Friday night. We would snap a quick selfie of our face reacting to each other’s photos and videos, and hold mini conversations in a quick, easy, visual format. It was, and still is, a way for us to communicate creatively without being an artist, and share quick glimpses of our worlds with each other.
Snapchat has rolled out two key additions over the past 18 months that have made the platform fresh ground for branding. In October 2013, Snapchat launched Stories, giving users the ability to create a narrative that lasted longer than 10 seconds. With Stories, you can make your content available on demand, to all of your followers, for a period of 24 hours. At that point, we saw brands surfacing on Snapchat.
Earlier this year, Snapchat launched Discover. Think of Discover as a 24-hour paid broadcast of your Snapchat story to not only your followers, but the entire Snapchat audience. With 100 million active users, 60 percent of which are on the app daily, and a monopoly on the Millennial and Generation Y demographics, we’re talking a very large and very sought-after audience.
Now, a recent update to Snapchat’s advertising offerings has been pitting agencies against brands in a debate over the new options. With all of the buzz around Discover and the impact it will have on social media, advertising, branding, news distribution, you name it … everyone is starting to take notice, as they should. Here’s why.
The leaders are already out of the gate. Many big brands are already on Snapchat, including Taco Bell, MTV, Mashable, Cosmo, CNN, National Geographic, People, ESPN, McDonald’s, and others. They are taking great strides in branding on the newest and fastest growing social platform, and from what I can see, this is only the beginning.
Snapchat is a gateway. The bridge between Snapchat engagement and engagement on other platforms is wide and strong. By simply requesting that its Twitter followers add them on Snapchat, Taco Bell was able to draw in a large, captive audience, and successfully engage with them on both platforms during a “surprise” promotional campaign. It started on Snapchat as an announcement that a popular menu item was returning soon, and quickly escalated into chatter and valuable engagement on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
Now is the time to innovate, and show that you can innovate. Think Snapchat only offers opportunity for consumer brands and media outlets? Think again. GrubHub and Snapchat have both used the app in employer branding and recruitment efforts. That’s right. Snapchat for employer branding.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from a client “We need to show that we’re innovative, but we can’t compete with the Big 4.” Well, here’s your chance. If your brand is truly innovative, and wants to hire others who wish to innovate, then Snapchat is your prime breeding ground. Because Snapchat is a new platform for brands, without established best practices or a flood of competition (for now), you have more room and license to experiment and test drive new strategies. Be a leader in the space, and you’ll not only demonstrate to talent that you’re innovative, you’ll also reap the most benefits in terms of branding awareness and consideration as one of the first to the punch.
Snapchat is changing the game in many ways, from advertising and paid media, to content distribution, branding opportunities, targeting, and engagement. The “how” isn’t a set formula, but the proof is undeniable in the “why.”
image from RoSonic / Shutterstock.com