If you don’t share your memories online, did they really happen? This phenomenon rings true for millions of people who compulsively share life moments on social media. But is particularly true for those who share visual content on the popular mobile application, Snapchat.
In the past eight years, Snapchat has transformed from a risqué app for sending “indiscreet” photos to a powerful social media tool with 229 million daily users creating more than 4 billion Snaps per day. Additionally, in 2016, the company released an advertising API for the app, called Snapchat Partners. The API will allow well-established brands like Verizon and Warner to feature a 10-second video ad between users’ Snapchat Stories.
Marketers and advertisers need to take the reins of this powerful platform before they get left in the dust. The app is changing the way we use social media in many ways. From shortening our already goldfish-like attention spans to giving us a first-person look into international affairs.
Interested in learning more? Here are the top 5 ways Snapchat is changing the social media game:
1. Snapchat creates a sense of urgency – to post, to monitor, to respond
The key differentiator between Snapchat and other popular social media platforms is the fleeting nature of the content. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you have to check the app every day to stay up-to-date with friends’ content. Snapchat users can only view their chosen friends’ Snaps for 10 seconds, and content shared to users’ “Story” self-destructs after 24 hours.
This aspect of the app drives users to share aspects of their daily lives they wouldn’t want “living” on their other social platforms. Like what you ate for breakfast, who you hung out with for lunch, and what show you watched while eating dinner.
2. Snapchat encourages users to tell a full story rather than just share the highlights
With daily users spending an average of 25 to 30 minutes on Snapchat each day, it’s no surprise that they’re putting out a ton of content. It’s not uncommon for my peers to share 5-10 moments a day – starting from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep.
Let’s say you’re embarking on a trip to Hawaii for the week. You don’t just want your Snapchat friends to know you’re going. You want your friends to take a virtual trip with you. Snapchat’s hyper-lapse filter is the perfect overlay for a quick video of you walking to your terminal. Snap a picture outside of the plane window as you take off, throwing on a speed filter to show how fast the plane is moving. Place a local Geofilter over a picture of the shoreline, so your friends know you made it. These three Snaps could add up to a 10-second Story that friends can skip or replay with the tap of a finger.
3. Snapchat has become a platform for sharing live news without being bombarded with ads
In stark contrast to social platforms that inundate users with ads in their news feeds, Snapchat allows users to choose when they view brands’ content. Select brands and media companies can promote content through Snapchat’s Discover. This is a tab consisting of channels that each draw in an audience of up to 40 million people in a 24-hour window. Users can view editorial articles or on-the-scene footage from festivals, foreign countries, movie screenings, award shows, and even international crises. Although these live stories have a limited number of ads woven into them, users can skip them in milliseconds by tapping their finger on the screen.
Aside from staying up-to-date with brands in Discover, users can also add brands as friends on Snapchat. They can view their content and engaging with the brand as they would with their peers. Social-savvy brands continue to take full advantage of this free marketing opportunity – like when Jimmy John’s used Snapchat to host a contest to determine the text on their new JJ’s sandwich stickers.
4. Snapchat gamifies users’ social media experience, drawing them in for more
One of the most popular features of Snapchat is its facial recognition-based selfie lenses. Simply hold a finger down on your face while using the camera and you’re given the option to overlay 16 funny or “scary” filters over your face. Snapchat updates these filters daily, even offering brands the option of purchasing a filter (my personal favorite was when Taco Bell turned users’ faces into tacos for Cinco de Mayo) or creating their own GeoFilter for a small fee – perfect for a location-specific business like a local coffee shop. These features diversify Snapchat from other social platforms because they give users a fun incentive to use the app and share their funny photos with friends and family.
Similarly, Snapchat gamifies the app by giving users a score based on how many Snapchats they send. And it recently added a Snapchat Trophy case containing emojis for achievements you reach on the app. Milestones include sending a Snapchat with the temperature filter above 100 degrees or sending 1,000 Snapchats using the front-facing camera.
One piece of INK advice? When it comes to social media, gamification and incentives to use certain apps are swell, but the most important thing for B2B companies to remember is this. No matter how inviting incentives are, social activity should not drive your business decisions. If you’re using a certain social platform, there must be a reason. Strategy is key!
5. Snapchat gives users an inside perspective into places they have only dreamed of visiting
Whether you’ve added a popular restaurant chain or your favorite influencers on Snapchat, the app gives you a sneak peek into places you’ve likely never been. Virtually tour the streets of Barcelona or explore those celebrating International Women’s Day by clicking through Snapchat’s curated Live Stories on Discover. Any Snapchat user in a predetermined geolocation can submit video contributions to these stories. Users tell bits and pieces that culminate into a full story, told from international perspectives.
There’s no doubt that Snapchat is changing the way we’re using social media. And if you think the tech giant is disappearing anytime soon, you might have missed its $1.8 billion venture capital round of funding in 2016. Although Snapchat, Inc. still isn’t profitable two years after its IPO, the platform remains a social media giant, with some predicting revenue to grow from approximately $2 billion in 2020 to $5 billion by 2025.
Only time will tell if Snapchat can keep up with the world’s oldest and most popular social media platforms.