Snapchat has come a long way from its initial release way back in September 2011. What started out as a project borne from founder Evan Spiegel's Stanford classes has developed into a modern day social media behemoth; this year the app hit a staggering 10 billion daily video views. That's more than the biggest giant of them all, Facebook, who had a bid of $3 billion turned down for the company in 2013. And as you might expect with a social media network that can boast 100 million daily active users, the majority of which belong to the much-vaunted millennial market, brands are increasingly getting more and more involved with the photo-sharing app.
From betting sites to pizza places via political leaders, it seems that every Tom, Dick and Harry is having a stab at cracking the huge potential market awaiting you on Snapchat. But should you be using Snapchat for business? And if so, how should you be using it? To find out, let's take a look at some of the brands and famous figures using Snapchat, and how you can feed some of the learnings from that into your business's Snapchat strategy. But first off...
Should you be on Snapchat?
Before piling straight in and sharing photos of your office lunch hour with your 3 followers, it's worth taking a step back and considering whether your business needs Snapchat. Sure, 100 million daily users is something that's bound to pique your interest - but are they people that are also going to be interested in your business? To find out, the first thing we need to do is take a closer look at the demographics of those users.
Around 100 million users visit the platform every day. Of this 100 million:
- 26 million are 13 to 17
- 37 million are 18 to 24
- 23 million are 25 to 34
- 12 million are 35 to 54
All this means that a huge 88% of Snapchat's audience consists of under 34s. So if your company's target audience is similar, then perhaps it's time to start thinking seriously about getting on board. The typical Snapchat user also has to be to technologically capable enough to master an app that Bloomberg recently described as 'a maze of downswipes, sideswipes and taps designed for people who already know what they're doing.'
Next, it's important to consider what type of content your business could be sharing on Snapchat. For this, it might be useful to take some inspiration from brands who are already big on Snapchat.
- Promoting brand persona - In line with the character they promote across all of their marketing channels, the Paddy Power Snapchat is exactly what you would expect - fun, light-hearted and mischievous. They post Snapchats that simply document whatever they're up to - whether that's watching the Ireland game, joining in with the Leicester City title celebrations or narrating a long-running soap opera starring a selection of plastic figurines. You've kinda gotta see that one to believe it, though (username: paddypower).
- Launching new products - McDonald's have been on Snapchat since early 2014, and typically use it to show exclusive clips of new adverts together with sneak previews of brand new product launches. Despite coming from such a huge corporation the Snaps are playful and offer a behind-the-scenes look into what's going on at their HQ. What's interesting to note about McDonalds' Snapchat output is that the content is unique to the medium; you couldn't simply recycle this sort of stuff onto other social networks and expect anywhere near the same level of engagement.
- Offering exclusive discount codes - Domino's launched on Snapchat in January of this year to much fanfare, with their 'dough to door' film charting the journey of a delivery guy who encounters an alien invasion. As ever, it's all very non-serious stuff, but viewers of the film were also shown random letters throughout which they could then piece together to form a discount code. Whilst your business doesn't need to go to quite those lengths on Snapchat, a physical retailer posting up a special offer to people who are out and about on their smartphones could be your takeaway from this. Excuse the pun...
You'll no doubt be unhappy to learn that it's not all fun and games on Snapchat, sadly. It's still primarily a photo-sharing app between friends, and isn't set up to support businesses in the same way that Facebook and Twitter are, for example. That being said, it's certainly not crazy to think that as Snapchat tries to monetise their brand in the next few years, making it more appealing to businesses will be one of their key revenue-drivers. That means by building up a loyal following now, by the time it is a little more business-friendly you'll be two steps ahead of the competition.
An additional factor to bear in mind is the lack of serious analytics available to you. Whilst you can see your number of followers, number of views on your Snaps and use that information to work out your open rate, that's pretty much it as far as the numbers go. There's also the obvious limitation of being unable to direct people from the app to your website, meaning no juicy clickthrough rates or cost-per-click figures to pore over. Yep, this social network is all about brand-building, word of mouth and a load of other things that won't fit nicely onto a spreadsheet. And in that sense alone, using Snapchat for business perhaps isn't the most attractive proposition for most SMEs right now.
In the end, it's up to you to decide whether your business should have a presence on Snapchat. But if your customer is under 30, technologically-minded and a big fan of your brand then there's a good chance they will also be a loyal Snapchat follower. Just don't try to be too serious, too business-minded and too offer-heavy - as we've seen, the best brands on Snapchat use it to create more of a personal connection with their customers rather than trying to flog things on a daily basis.
Still can't decide whether to jump on the Snapchat bandwagon? I can help you out wherever in the world you are. Let's talk!