Snapchat is a unique social platform and one that has exploded in popularity rather suddenly since its release in 2011. Now reaching around 8 billion views daily (and there are only 7.4 billion of us in the world, remember), the medium of ephemeral content has well and truly taken off. So how can content marketers use this to their advantage?
Snapchat is the only platform that reaches younger, teen users in substantial numbers. It’s easy to see why, what with all the fun features it’s packing. Whereas Facebook and Instagram integrate advertising as part of their business model, Snapchat requires a slightly different approach – one that’s more personal, engaging and rough around the edges.
Here’s why Snapchat is becoming content marketing’s not-so-secret weapon.
1. It’s popular with teens
There’s no question that Snapchat is a key social platform for marketers who are specifically looking to target younger people. Snapchat is constantly updating and adding new features to stay fresh and relevant, which is just one of the reasons teens love it so much. By contrast, networks like Facebook and Twitter have, for the most part, remained much the same.
Features like Snapchat Discover and a seemingly unending array of picture and video filters (such as face-swapping) mean the novelty of Snapchat never quite wears off.
Another reason for its popularity among the younger generation is its focus on images and video, rather than text-based posts. As a rule, teens (and to an extent, users in general) are more interested in flipping through visual content than written content.
An eMarketer study says more teens than expected are leaving Facebook for Instagram and Snapchat since they are “more aligned with how they communicate”.
2. It’s all about fun
When it first came out, there were a lot of people who dismissed Snapchat as a gimmick that would never become a serious social network contender. How wrong they were!
One thing that Snapchat does particularly well is promoting a playful user experience. As we now know, just because a product is frivolous and lighthearted, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. In fact, when it comes to content marketing, playful is often the perfect angle.
Our Facebook news feeds are often flooded with hard news – a lot of doom and gloom. Snapchat meets our need for light, entertaining content that doesn’t fill us with anxiety about the state of the world. Ultimately, users will always be drawn to fun – as long as it’s brand-appropriate.
3. It puts mobile first
Image Source: Snapchat
In the same way as Instagram, Snapchat is designed specifically for use on mobile devices – you actually can’t use it on a desktop. This means that users take it with them wherever they go, heightening the relevance of their location at any given time. Snapchat has a ‘find your friends’ feature that enables users to see where their friends are, and what they’re up to.
This puts it right ‘in the moment’. Everything on Snapchat is happening right here, right now. It satisfies our craving for the new and exciting and plugs us into the lives of our friendship circle in real-time. Already, brands are hopping on board, creating branded filters and events that are both urgent and engaging: the double-duo of desirable content.
Because the app is made for smartphones first and foremost, Snapchat marketing is ideal for eCommerce businesses with a lot of mobile users. While Snapchat may not be the first place you think of when it comes to selling your products, it can actually be a surprisingly good platform for spreading brand awareness. Rather than funneling all of your budget into Facebook advertising, consider how you can create specialist content that will captivate the mobile market.
4. It encourages impulse buying
If there’s one thing we can say about the Millennial and Gen-Z generations, it’s that they’re pretty firmly plugged into their phones. And you’d be surprised how often that influences their purchasing decisions. Or maybe not so surprised.
We turn to our phones for everything nowadays, whether it’s deciding where to eat, finding a local event, or searching for a new pair of sunglasses. ‘Local’ is a key word here, because one of Snapchat’s most brilliant advantages is its knowledge of users’ locations, and with it, the ability to target them with locally relevant offers.
Image Source: Snapchat
In other words, we’re about to see an explosive growth in geo-targeting and geo-filters. And as is Snapchat’s way, most of these offers will only last for around 30 minutes, which dramatically increases the likelihood of impulse buying so as ‘not to miss out’.
Content marketers should look to adapt their strategies accordingly. Here are some examples of other brands using ephemeral content to their advantage.
5. It allows you to combine the physical and virtual
Image Source: Wikipedia
Let’s examine one of Snapchat’s best PR stunts – Spectacles. With this maneuver, the company managed to bring their short-term ethos into the real world, with video-recording sunglasses sold through pop-up vending machines that were gone almost as soon as they appeared. The app also gave users the chance to virtually ‘try on’ the glasses before deciding whether to buy.
With this stunt, Snapchat created an experience that their most loyal users could feel part of and get excited about. And that’s really what good content marketing is about. Next, Snapchat plans to roll out its new augmented reality feature, which will enable marketers to pay for words and images to be overlaid onto the world, as viewed through a user’s smartphone camera.
These ads, which will be known as ‘sponsored world lenses’, are different to Snapchat’s existing features in that they will apply to the outward-facing camera – not just for selfies. There is, of course, the option to sponsor the ever-popular face-distorting lenses as well.
New advertising formats like this are increasingly popular and completely different to anything we’re seeing from the other social platforms. Marketers, take note.
6. There’s less competition
It seems like every brand ever has a Facebook account and a Twitter profile these days, and increasingly, more of them are present on Instagram and Pinterest too. Because of this, it can sometimes be hard to make sure your content stands out on these platforms.
But Snapchat is still relatively new on the scene, and a lot of businesses are either unfamiliar with it or don’t really take it seriously. This will all start to change very soon, but for the moment, there remains considerably less competition for businesses on Snapchat, compared to other networks.
Yes – it’s very different. The audience is much younger, and they expect a different sort of branded content. But these differences can also work to your advantage – it’s just knowing the right way to go about it.
It’s certainly clear that Snapchat is not your average advertising platform. It deals exclusively in the wacky, the weird, the playful and the transient. But if you play to its strengths, it’s a powerful tool that is yet to reach its peak, opening doors into the lucrative Millennial and Gen Z market.
What are your experiences with using Snapchat for business?
Guest author: Victoria Greene is a Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. I work with eCommerce businesses & marketing teams to create content and targeted SEO strategies. In my line of work, customer research is very important, so I have my fair share of experience with it. Check out my website for more about what I do.