Snapchat – flirting implement or a serious marketing tool?
Launched in September 2011, Snapchat (in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last four years) is a social media tool that has taken the world by storm. With a company value currently between $10-$20 billion and seven billion views on the app per day, it’s hard to argue with its success. The real question throughout this rapid growth, is how to make such a universally popular app marketable.
The beauty and unique feature of Snapchat over any other messaging service, is that any photo or video sent lasts for only 1-10 seconds, unless the receiver of the message decides to screenshot them. The vanishing nature of these images has given the app a bit of a reputation for ‘sexting’, but it also limits advertising opportunities and initially put off the more traditional minds behind branding.
But are they missing a trick? The cold hard stats behind Snapchat show its raw power – 45% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 18-24, and 71% are under the age of 31. Additionally, in the UK alone more than 25% of Smartphone users have downloaded Snapchat. As the 18-34 demographic is widely considered the group of people with the most spending-power, and the most active on social media, advertisers and marketers are gradually opening themselves up to this potential goldmine.
In fact, back in January 2015, Snapchat asked for a whopping $750,000 a day for brands wanting to advertise on its commercial space. Many brands baulked at this price for such a young app, yet interestingly, some of the largest ones didn’t – McDonald’s, Samsung, Macy’s, and even news outlets VICE and the Daily Mail to name a few were some of their earliest advertisers. Once the big boys start to worm their way into advertising opportunities, it’s only a matter of time before the rest follow suit.
As both a sport and social media fanatic – and as someone who works at a sports PR agency – I believe a rule of thumb to determining the success of an app is when global sports brands start using them in their social media presence. Premier League football teams have been slow on the uptake, but many of them are now starting to utilise Snapchat to show exclusive behind the scenes content to fans, such as Arsenal’s star players taking charge of the club account for the day, to show a day in the life of an Arsenal player.
The Snapchat ‘our story’ function has also started to feature major sporting fixtures, whereby any individual at the game can post an image or video to a sequential story, which will then be available to view for any Snapchat user for 24 hours. The major US sports leagues have all signed up to Stories and as a representative from Major League Baseball said: “the goal was to capture the experience of attending a baseball game”. Early examples of this included the Liverpool vs Manchester United derby and the USA vs Mexico football match. In December 2015, the NFL became the first sports partner to sign up to Story Explorer which will promote this user generated content alongside its own footage.
With such a large and desirable demographic, this app is a method of engaging quickly and easily with consumers. So although the commercialisation of Snapchat has been a slow-burner, it seems that it’s a tool that cannot be ignored by brands for much longer.