Snapchat's Value as a Marketing Tool

Jun 21st 2016

Snapchat, a social networking app that combines the vanity of taking selfies and keeping contact with your friends, has made it big. It's amassed so much popularity (~150 million daily users) in recent years that its rivals include the social networking giants of Facebook and Twitter. Its appeal comes from not only the usage of pictures and videos to grab immediate attention, but also the introduction of a narrative. When you make a 'story,' you are given the option to construct it in a time sequence. Not only are you free to post anything on your mind in one frame, you can strew together videos from across the day to tell your story. This is what has lifted Snapchat off the ground. So of course it lures in millenials by the thousands. People from ages 18-24 make up 37% of the userbase. The millenials being such an influential, well-connected audience, it's no wonder businesses are extending their reach onto Snapchat to participate in this innovative 'story telling'.

The range of advertising opportunities on Snapchat is impressive. Using 'snapcodes,' QR-code like images that are scanned by the app, consumers can be directed to a company's snapchat account, where they can see their whole brand portfolio on scrolling page. By simplifying the process of connecting a user to a business, companies can now focus on posting prime content that, deleted every 24 hours, must be updated everyday. Snapchat has made marketing more easy with the introduction of the Discover Portal, a section which features content from handpicked media partners. Some companies that have taken advantage of the new advertisement opportunity are Smedia, Buzzfeed, Refinery 29, Cosmo, as well as news sites such as National Geographic and Vice. The marketing approach, tailored for Snapchat ads, has changed in a variety of ways. For example, a company called Tastemade has begun designing the scenes for their promo videos to be vertically oriented, as most on smart phones tend to use their phone long-ways. They have done this for various brands including Coca-Cola and Dunkin Donuts. Another way that ads have been redefined for Snapchat is the focus of the videos. Understanding Snapchat's audience to be people between 18-24, the goal was to make ads more playful, instead of traditionally promotional; Dunkin Donuts has experimented with this.

The reasons for joining the Snapchat advertising environment is obvious in that most companies are trying to reach a younger audience. CNN began working to expose themselves on Snapchat primarily because their audience has a median age of ~30; they have added millenial-geared articles for specifically their Snapchat profile. Another general benefit is the succinct nature of posts in Snapchat. Stories string together videos in a way that, in order to keep the viewer interested, must be short and sweet. In that sense, a company is sure to reach a wider audience because of this environmental factor. Finally, one of the biggest advantages of marketing on Snapchat is the seamless integration of branded content personalized for every viewer, something that is still in the development process for other social media sites.

So, has Snapchat found the panacea to the marketing issues companies face today? Not necessarily. Right now, the Discovery Portal is highly selective, allowing only companies that have similar styles. Also, the demographic that provides the most traffic for Snapchat is clearly young adults. That's important but the fact is it also isolates another demographic: the baby boomers. Indeed, people over 55 have most probably never even heard of Snapchat. So, what does this mean? It depends on your business, it depends on the product you want to sell, it depends on the country you want primarily focus on, it depends on the age group you're targeting. For example, Fox News, which caters primarily to older Americans, wouldn't get much use out of Snapchat's Discover Portal, while the Atlantic and Huffington Post would fit right in with user base. Choosing which social media sites you would like to promote yourself on is important because as they say, 'time is money', and in order to chase the money, you have to know which social networking sites its sitting in.

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