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Snapchat Marketing

As the world was introduced to the first Snapchat résumé this week and a timely review as China's biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba, is putting £140m ($200m) into Snapchat.

We wanted to take a look at how brands can harness the power of this rapidly-growing app; a favourite of teenagers across the world and market their brand on Snapchat.

First launched in July 2011, Snapchat was the brainchild of Stanford university students Evan Speigel and Reggie Brown. The idea of an app with photos that would appear on the screen for only a few seconds didn’t go down very well with the rest of their Product Design class. Since the first images were sent, Snapchat has evolved to allow users to send photos, record videos, add text and drawings and send them to a controlled list of recipients.

The Stats
If the idea of impermanent photos isn’t floating your boat so far, perhaps the stats will. By May 2014, users were sending 700 million photos and videos per day. One of the more recent features ‘Snapchat Stories’ was being viewed over a billion times a day. Stories last for 24 hours, rather than seconds like the photos and videos last.

When it comes to demographics, most Snapchat users are between 13 and 25, with the majority being female (70%). Snapchat has 32.9% penetration on the mobile phones of millennials. Encouragingly, among adult users it is at 18% penetration. In the UK, 46% of teens use Snapchat and 14% of its total users are in this country.

Can It Work For You?
How can a brand use an app that features content for just a few seconds? There are no paid-for advertising options. It’s difficult to build followers because they have to actively seek you out and add you. The app doesn’t receive online traffic; Snapchat is housed entirely within the mobile app. But we had the same situation with Twitter when it started out – and look how far that’s come!

The simplest way of utilising Snapchat as a marketplace is to provide creative content which points towards your brand. A great example of this is the Lynx exclusive party trailers. They featured behind-the-scenes footage, which attracted followers, who in turn were asked to post their own images. This garnered a few hundred new followers. Lynx found that the time needed to properly engage with and respond to customers was high. So they are looking into ways to best utilise this platform.

Then there’s the option of transmitting coupons. Groupon have been using this method – setting its followers daily challenges then rewarding them with giveaways. They also set up a microsite explaining how to use Snapchat – a great move, as it’ll encourage new users to Snapchat and help those of us who aren’t teenagers!

The Stories function is the best way of conveying messages to existing and potential customers. They are a more comfortable format for businesses, at 30-60 seconds long. Stories can be watched multiple times within a 24 hour period.

Who is using Snapchat so far?
Primarily, Snapchat has been used by FMCG companies as well as clothing and restaurant chains. They are mainly sending out coupons. However, with the launch of Stories, more and more TV and entertainment companies are using it to share snippets of shows for promotion. It is best suited for brands aimed at younger consumers, or wishing to break that market.

Should Your Business Use Snapchat?
In summary then, is Snapchat worth a go? Yes. But it comes with its pitfalls.

Engagement is high – with users viewing the app multiple times a day.
It’s a great way of reaching hard to get demographics.
It can be cost-effective.
You will have viewer’s attention – they know they only get to see things briefly.
You get warm leads – people find you, so they want to interact.
You’ll be amongst the cool kids; get it right and you’ll have a whole new demographic.

It is hard to build up a following.
If your video clip contains audio, and the user’s phone is on silent, your message could be lost.
It can be a time-consuming route to engage with customers.
You’ll have to get it right – these consumers are turned off by intrusive marketing.