I’ll be frank: I never thought much of social media networks were personal/self images were the main appeal. I love Pinterest for the sharing of interesting recipes, DIY, design, and other useful or insightful content, but less-educated me thought that networks like Instagram and Snapchat were full of people who only wanted to take selfies. The act had always seemed vain to me, but social media is just interaction and conversation; the massive spread of today’s social networks now provide choices for just about any way someone wants to talk to or engage anyone else.
In it’s early beginnings, Snapchat was nothing more than a messaging app with the rather unique premise of personal, self-deleting messages and images. I’d never used it despite falling within the target age group (‘tweens’ all the way to anyone in their late 20’s), and I’d never felt the urge to find my friends on the service. Much had to do with the storm clouds of negative press above Snapchat, which implicated multiple individuals in a flurry of allegation and charges.
Pushing aside the hiccups in the press, including the FTC’s case accusing Snapchat of not actually deleting user information like the app promises, the service has certainly experienced some absurd growth (from a few thousand users to over 300,000 during over the span of 2012). Owners Evan Spielgel and Robert Murphy can thank the quirky usability of Snapchat, as that’s the primary reason why its so well received. Not only is it more personal than typical online messengers, but there’s more room for interest and conversation when pictures are involved. Worth a thousand words? Absolutely.
Unfortunately, much like Vine (in the social media agency space, mostly), it just didn’t seem to make much sense from a branding or marketing standpoint. To me, it wasn’t a practical form of marketing through leveraging social media channels; how do you actually communicate to an audience in a meaningful way with a few seconds of video?
2014 has brought a number of surprises for marketers, social media managers, and just about everyone in the digital marketing space. With the introduction of Snapchat’s My Story, brands and celebrities can now reach their fans in a creative, engaging way. Instead of mere 7 second glimpses, brands could create temporary (24 hours of life), 360 second stories compiling multiple snaps into a movie/slideshow hybrid.
Why is this effective? Well, think about how different Facebook and Twitter are for penetrating the web and reaching your customers. Facebook post life is usually slow and steady; you post to your followers and hope they read your posts at some point during the day/week. The life of a Facebook post can be anywhere from a few hours to days at a time. Compare this to Twitter, where the life of tweets can exist for mere minutes; the amount of confusion and new content is borderline absurd for most users, and it just happens to be the name of the game. Now think about these snaps through My Story. After 24 hours, you’ve missed out on whatever quirky, funny, insightful, or interesting picture or message the brand you’ve been following has posted. The power of time restricted content is extremely powerful, and your fans feel obliged to read your post.
I haven’t yet used Snapchat in a marketing strategy, but brands such as Taco Bell, HBO, and even some pop artists have taken to using Snapchat as a marketing tool, albeit one that many often find fun to use, too. This may be the first of many uses in digital marketing that take the ‘exclusive’ concept to create viral, explosive content that your fans want to discover.