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The Rise of Snapchat

The now dominant photo-sharing app

Snapchat is a photo messaging app which allows people to connect with friends through sending instant photos or videos, which automatically self-destruct after a few seconds. The app, which has seen a significant rise in its use, now sees as many as 350 million photo uploads daily, a number which rivals Facebook. Why has this app seen such a rise in popularity over the past few years? And how can this activity be channelled into a form of social media mobile marketing for brands?


Snapchat has been extremely popular as a social media network among the younger generations, especially teenagers who like to share their life updates in an instant manner and often through the medium of photography. Snapchat in particular reflects the growing use of instant messaging among teenagers which they access through their smartphones, however, by including disappearing photos it adds a new dimension to existing instant messaging platforms like Whatsapp. Snapchat has seen its appeal among this audience because it allows them to send a picture of what is happening to them right at that moment, and is something that is not permanent – the picture is supposed to be grainy, fun and instantaneous – this is all part of its appeal to the younger generation. Snapchat is also a more private way of messaging your friends – with the user only selecting a particular friend or group of friends to send the image to and only receiving messages from their friends.

The ability to draw on the images you send is also a feature not seen on any of the other social media networks, and allows inventive individuals to create interesting Snaps to send to their friends – increasing the fun, and unique nature of the app and encouraging its popularity. Some individuals even use the app to create ‘SnapChat Art’ showing the potential for the use of the app for different means.

The popularity of Snapchat among teenagers and young people has led some brands to target it as a platform for marketing their products or their brand to this demographic. The first brand to use Snapchat as a marketing tool to reach their target audience has been MTV’s Geordie Shore – the app seems a great match for the target demographic that MTV are trying to attract to watch Geordie Shore – a young crowd, interested in receiving pictures for only a few seconds. The nature of the app, in that you are in control of watching videos or viewing the pictures that you receive, means that the target audience feels a greater involvement in the advertisement and is particularly engaged in it. In addition, most people cannot resist viewing the Snaps that they receive as they are filled with a natural sense of intrigue at what it might contain and the creativity it might involve. An interesting Snap could work as a particularly memorable form of advertising. On the other hand, if advertising is poorly done on this platform it will be erased immediately after being viewed, so will not affect the brand’s image for long. So, as a method of marketing it could be effective providing the target audience are Snapchat users, as it has little cost and for some particular brands there could be a lot to gain.

Source: marketingweek.co.uk

MTV have not been alone in using Snapchat as a marketing tool, Taco Bell have also adopted this approach in their marketing strategy asking their Twitter followers to add them on Snapchat. Could this be the beginning of the monetization of Snapchat? The success of brands like MTV and Taco Bell on Snapchat may lead other brands towards Snapchat, and may lead to developments which introduce ads to Snapchat. However, with almost half of Snapchat users having received nude or inappropriate photos via the platform, it has received an undesired reputation as an app on which unsuitable photos are sent and therefore has been slower to attract brands. However, Taco Bell does not seem to fear the reputation of the site, and has instead focused on how the person who receives the Snapchat feels instantly special and connected to the brand. Taco Bell’s social media and digital lead commented “we want to make someone’s day everyday with our social channels… it feels extremely special to get a Snapchat. It’s almost like we pick up the phone and give them a call”.

Source: Taco Bell Snapchat: www.shoutlet.com

An interesting idea used by the American frozen yoghurt chain 16Handles has been to use Snapchat as a way to interact with their customers and offer them discounts on their next purchase. The way it works is - you have to send a picture of you and your friends enjoying a frozen yoghurt at one of the 16Handles shops, sending it to Love16Handles on Snapchat. In return you will be sent a discount vouchers ranging from 16% to 100% off your purchase, allowing the cashier 10 seconds to scan the coupon. This is once again dependent upon the correct target audience being on Snapchat, which was correctly identified by 16Handles. The surprise and possibility of getting a discount is likely to be an effective marketing tool for the brand, but will other brands adopt this approach?

Source: engage.synecoretech.com

Therefore, it is fair to say that there is only a limited number of brands who have the potential to advertise on Snapchat in the first place, as it needs to appeal to the correct audience and needs to have a visual appeal. Currently, brands are only able to advertise through Snapchat if their followers add them on the social media platform and Snapchat itself is the only company able to send out Snaps to everyone. This is effective as only people who wish to receive the Snapchats from the brands will do so. This begs the question of whether Snapchat may start to allow brands to pay to send out Snapchats to all users, beginning the monetization of the application. However, will this detract from the personal nature of the app where you only receive messages from your friends? If all Snapchat users start receiving unwanted adverts, will it change the nature of its use?

What do you think?

Do you think Snapchat could be used as an effective marketing tool?


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The Rise of Snapchat Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, October 03, 2013 Rating: 5
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