“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” James Joyce, Ulysses
When you first click on the SnapChat App, an icon of a white ghosts appears. For modern viewers this may evoke memories of a certain friendly ghosts, yet this ghostly image embodies so much more. Social media has brought so many great things to modern day society. Every moment of our lives can now be documented into the eons of history. Alongside this, we can no longer erase our stupid mistakes, follies, and all the aspects that make us human as easily. That was until the photo sharing app, Snapchat came into the picture.
SnapChat was founded by two Stanford graduates Evan Spiegal and Bobby Murphy in 2011. Their dream was to allow people to share funny and sometimes embarrassing photos on an app that would disappear in a few seconds. That way these photos wouldn’t come back and haunt their users later on like the ghost of social media past.
Snapchat’s most outstanding feature was there from the very beginning. Snaps are photos or videos that will disappear after ten second. People are able to put captions in front of their photos. They are limited to a thirty one character limit, but that doesn’t make the captions any less insightful or entertaining.
From there, in 2013 Snapchat updated to include their “Story” feature. This allowed for a collection of snaps to form a longer narrative creating a story. Check out this list of funny Snapchat stories here for an example. My favorite was this “trilogy.”
You are able to share stories, snaps, and chat with friends on the app. If a friend were to take a screen shot of a photo you sent the app would alert you.
While Snapchat offers some filters, it separates itself from other photo sharing sites because Snaps are meant to be un-retouched moments. The new release of selfie filters are more playful than attractive. They have options like heart eyes and puking rainbow, nothing that is meant to enhance a person’s appearance. If we look at the other major photo sharing site, Instagram, it’s entire format is set up to for users to gain as many likes as possible. With Snapchat, the filter façade is less apparent. People are allowed to simply be themselves.
Snapchat is a place meant to embody how a person is feeling in the present moment. Speaking to this thought the Snapchat blog wrote, “Permanent social media encourages an understanding of the present as documentable. Conversely, temporary social media is anti-nostalgia, letting the present be good enough right where it is.” Snapchat offers a a rebellion against perfection that other social media sites appear to dictate.
No one will argue the dominance of Facebook on social media. At the same time, once your grandmother starts to send you friend requests it begins to lose the cool factor it once had. Since the dawn of time young adults have wanted a place to call their own, a place that was defiantly different from the establishment. Teens were rallying for a new social media outlet. Snapchat answered that rebel yell. Teens are currently the largest audience of Snapchat with 40% of USTeens using the app. Along with that, 36% of Americans between the age of 30 to 18 have a Snapchat. For a more in-depth look at this I recommend reading this article from the Observer.
It also helps that the app is mobile friendly. It is reported that American’s spend an average five hours a day on their cell phones. With so much time on mobile devices marketers need to have their social channels adaptable for social media. If we picture the average Snapchat user, I see an image of a teenager hiding their phone underneath their desk in math class. Snapchat markets off of these moments of boredom to gain the attention of the smart phone generation.
It is clear that young people are heading to Snapchat in droves, as a result brands need to get on the app or face missing out on a great marketing opportunity. This infographic shows some of the numbers behind that.
Since it’s beginning, Snapchat has grown at an extremely fast rate. It is slowly starting to compete with the social media pillar, Facebook, as a social sharing site. Fortune writes, “Snapchat users view, in aggregate, more than 7 billion videos through the ephemeral photo and video sharing app per day, a source close to the matter confirmed with Fortune. Between June and Nov. last year, Snapchat’s video traffic more than tripled to 6 billion per day.” To give a better sense of that data Facebook is said to have 8 billion videos viewed in a day. Considering that Facebook was established in 2004, the fact that Snapchat is catching up to them at such an extreme speed is quite impressive.
Integration with Social Channels
Snapchat established themselves with all the heavy hitters in social media: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. While they seem to be on every major social media site, they only post consistently on Twitter and Instagram. I think this is largely because Snapchat is easily marketed under these formats. Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat share the connection of instantaneous social media. Snapchat works best in markets that are meant for the here and now. Snapchat is not about taking time out to edit photos and thinking of the best quote that embodies your breakfast burrito. Snapchat is about making funny faces, writing stupid captions, and pressing send with no second guessing.
Companies that Snap
Like with most new social media channels, companies have struggled on how to implement Snapchat for marketing purposes. Ten seconds is a small window to make a dent in the minds of consumers, but as some studies have suggested the human brain loses concentration after about eight seconds. That leaves an extra two whole seconds to play with! Brands have that have taken advantage of Snap chat, use it as a way to maintain a connection with their consumers. The apps overall message lends towards a more causal affair.
Free People uses their Snaps to give behind the scene looks at the company as well as speak to fans directly.
The story feature has also led to more creative campaigns. Taco Bell came out with a Snapchat story not too long ago. Check it out below.
University of Florida has even got on the SnapChat bandwagon. They posted this Snapchat Story for their Gator Outreach Program.
Snapchat is an amazing tool to engage viewers and showcase all of the cool things your company is doing. To learn how to Snapchat like a professional, I really loved this article from Forbes. Professionals looking to market through Snapchat need to remember that it is not meant to be presented in a traditional format. Keep content fun, entertaining, but also appropriate.
People that Snap
Basically if you are a celebrity or brand that depends on younger consumers, it is imperative that you get a SnapChat.
Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and the infamous Justin Bieber are all well known celebrities that have gotten in on the Snapchat game. There are many more of them, but the ones listed above are very popular with the Snapchat demographic. In order for celebrities like them to stay intone with their fans, they have to know what their fans are doing. Today’s celebrities live in a culture that is dependent on the perfect, photo shopped lifestyle. Snapchat offers them a break from this. For celebrities Snapchat allows them to connect on a more intimate level with their fans. They are able to stay on brand, yet there is less of velvet rope separating them through Snapchat.
One of the greatest parts of the tech era, is that new technologies arise when problems surface. The ongoing need for perfection that came with permanent social media, resulted in a generation that was always pausing to take the perfect photo or write the wittiest post. Snapchat offered an outlet away from this. On the app, people no longer had to be perfect. They simply had to be human.
Within integrated marketing communication they talk about making purposeful connections with the consumer. The fact of the matter is that consumers are not simply percentages on an info-graph or profit margins waiting to be grabbed. Consumers are everyday people like you and I. In a continually media driven society, they want marketers to notice who they are as individuals. One way to do that is to meet them in a place where they can be themselves, albeit a self that can puke rainbows. To understand people we need to see beyond the filters and perfectly shot poses. Snapchat offers marketer that chance to start a dialogue with the people they want to reach.
If you would like to learn more about Snapchat, feel free to clink on the link to my Prezi presentation here: Snapchat Prezi
Hackett, Robert. “Snapchat’s Video Traffic is Catching up with Facebook.” January 12, 2016.
Solomon, Brian. “How To Use Snapchat: a Small Business Guide.” August 15, 2015.
Vaynerchuk,Gary. “The Snap Generation: A Guide to Snapchat’s History.” January 29, 2016.
Team Snapchat. “Snapchat Blog”