Early this year Statista reported that apps available in the Google Play store had surpassed 2 million choices, so breaking through is a rarified feat akin to successfully scaling Mt. Everest. Enter Snapchat, which, according to its own reports, has 100 million daily active users that represent some 18 percent of all U.S. social media users. Snapchat allows users to send photos and videos that disappear after a few seconds of the intended recipient viewing them. Alternatively, users can add their images to craft their own personalized “story,” which consists of a 24-hour archive that can be served up to the world or just to those who follow an individual’s feed, before it, too, “disappears.”
Baby boomers, already weary from trying to keep up with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, may wonder—what is all the fuss about? And, as marketers and advertisers may wish to know: are their opportunities to leverage the popular platform to reach younger audiences, such as the demographic aged 18-24 who comprise nearly half of the app’s audience?
Here then are some basic observations to get one’s head wrapped around the growing platform.
Snapchat Feeds the Desire for Instant Gratification
With domestic smartphone penetration approaching two-thirds of the population, individuals have grown accustomed to the highs and lows that are a byproduct of the cause and effect of social media, instant messaging, mobile shopping, sports scores, news gathering and virtually every other aspect of our lives. In a Pew Research Centre study released last year, some 24 percent of teens described going online “almost constantly.” Like it or not, Snapchat enables users to feed such compulsion in unique, customized ways.
Snapchat Is Fun and Ever-Evolving
Snapchat allows users to doodle on photos, add captions, or create all manner of facial distortions using an assortment of lenses or filters. As a result, every user becomes an artist of sorts immediately and effortlessly. Unlike some apps that remain fairly static, Snapchat is constantly adding new bells and whistles that allow users to express their individuality in unique and clever ways, keep things fresh, and helping to stoke the desire to see and share what is new.
Snapchat’s Bag of Tricks Is Incredible
And make no mistake, Snapchat’s evolving technologies can be nothing short of mind-boggling. Take the ‘face swap’ filter for example, which allows two people to pose for a photo that trades out their faces, making for some downright scary juxtapositions. Something that would have once required very specialized and expensive graphic computing capability is now available for anyone with a smartphone—for free!
Snapchat Gives Marketers the Chance to Capture ‘Mobile Moments’
The best way for marketers to use the platform to promote their products and services is to integrate into the behaviors users on Snapchat are already exhibiting. For example, one recent filter served as a classic impression-based advertising vehicle. For the theatrical motion picture, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, filters transformed users into different characters such as the evil Ravenna played by Charlize Theron. Rather than being interruptive in nature, this tactic was participative and acted as a simple nudge to remind its audience of the film’s impending release.
Snapchat Is a Panacea in a World of Infinite Programming Choices
One of the beauties of Snapchat is that it requires no commitment. Videos are limited to 10 seconds in duration and photos appear for the same duration. The quick and ephemeral nature of such content not only feeds the aforementioned desire of instant gratification, it aligns with our hyper-distracted world where attention spans continue to compress. In one respect, it is a natural extension of the shift in generational media usage habits, where an appetite for short videos is supplanting its program-length counterparts.
Publishers can take advantage of slightly longer lengths in the Discover section of Snapchat where feeds for everything from Cosmopolitan to iHeart Radio to Tastermade, a purveyor of recipes, beauty tips, and the like, offer up content augmented by brief advertisements.
According to comScore, the majority of digital media consumption now takes place on apps. As more and more time is spent on the smaller screen, marketers will be challenged to come up with innovative ways to arrest attention, albeit briefly. Marketers unfamiliar with Snapchat should download the app, play around with it, and begin to understand its potential. In an age with so much consumer choice, the old expression, “Here today, gone tomorrow” is over, for ‘tomorrow’ has been distilled to a matter of mere seconds.
Photo courtesy of Snapchat