It’s true that in the fickle world of social media more people worship the rising than the setting sun, and with the term “Facebook fatigue” a commonly acknowledged phenomena in marketing circles as of 2013, marketers in particular are looking out for the ‘next big thing’.
This is not to say that Facebook’s phenomenal rise has been scuppered and marketers should bin all of their earlier thoughts on social marketing, but Snapchat has propelled itself into the spotlight in 2013 as a truly disruptive means of social interaction, similar to Facebook in the mid-noughties.
For those of you unfamiliar with Snapchat, the app lets users share pictures with their friends by taking picture on their phones which then self-deletes after a specified amount of time – up to 10 seconds. That’s unless they screen-grab it (we’ll get back to this later).
In many ways it resembles the ‘six month wonder’ that was Chatroutlette, although Snapchat users do get to approve who they can receive messages from by adding them as friends in the first instance.
In an act of PR-genius separating Snapchat from rest of the would-be ‘next big things’, it has gained itself a reputation as the app of choice for those eager to share ‘intimate’ images of themselves. This is mostly because of the short-term nature of the images. Hence it has been dubbed the ‘sexting’ app.
As mentioned before, this has become the app of choice among younger audiences and in my opinion it’s the irreverence of Snapchat that is one of its key USPs attracting this crowd. In itself, Snapchat is completely inane and that’s what’s so great about it and yes, it is used for more than just sexting.
However, obviously the disaffected young hordes leaving Facebook are a highly desirable demographic for marketers and many will be able to “harness” the new craze but with it comes a host of challenges and risks.
This became a hot topic of debate within the last week as Team Snapchat was said to be raising more than $100m (£64m) in funding and recruiting a host of ad sales people, according to Techcrunch, amid a major commercial drive.
Taco Bell is said to be experimenting with it as a marketing tool in the US but I can’t help but think that “harnessing” the Snapchat audience may be a challenge beyond all but the most subtle and risqué marketers.
Firstly, how does a brand make its way on to an individual’s Snapchat friends list? This, in my opinion, is the first and possibly largest hurdle. True this could possibly be achieved via brand advocates but then the dilemma is what tone to take with your mar-comms?
Let’s not forget that one of the additional factors fuelling ‘Facebook fatigue’, is the more overt commercialisation of the platform, plus I need not remind you of the uproar its sister-brand Instagram faced when it initially announced its commercialisation plans.
I’m in no doubt that if Snapchat was littered with commercial messaging, the kids will be quick to snap back out of it.
This is truly a hot potato to juggle for most marketers. In my opinion, only youth orientated brands or marketers who are truly risqué will be able to gauge the mood of this audience without making them want to delete the app altogether.
But that’s not to say Snapchat is to be avoided altogether, its potential is certainly potent. For instance, I’d imagine media brands would be able to use it as a means of previewing major releases, or news outlets could let their journalists send images in anticipation of large diary events, such as an important conference like the G8, etc.
Plus the aforementioned screen grabbing function could provide invaluable feedback for brands, in fact a few weeks ago a friend of mine, who works in digital media, and I were discussing its potential using Snapchat to distribute location-based vouchers that could be redeemed in-store.
However, with all this said, there are many questions brands must ask of themselves before entering the risky realms of Snapchat.