Why Snapchat deserves your attention.

Unless you’ve been living in a smartphone free parallel Universe, then you will have no doubt heard of Snapchat or will have seen people using it to turn their selfies into dogs or aliens. Snapchat launched a few years ago as a young, consumer based platform – and has now become more popular than ever. Recently it has shortened its name to Snap Inc. and released its first retail product: a pair of camera equipped glasses. It will be interesting to see how the new Spectacles do in the market, considering that the Glass project did not go well for Google.

If you aren’t already familiar with Snapchat, in short it allows you to send photos or videos, both of which will self-destruct after a few seconds of a person viewing them. Back when Snapchat was first released in 2011, a lot of people dismissed it as a passing fad. But Snapchat are doing it right — and the numbers are growing continuously. Today it’s users share nearly 9,000 Snaps every second and watch 10 billion videos a day on the application according to a report from Bloomberg.

Since it’s simple early beginnings, Snapchat has evolved into a multifunctional social media platform. With a wide user base of 100 million active users, the app is looking to be the future of social media and is the strongest contender to take the throne from the all-powerful Facebook.

With so many people using Snapchat so often, many big brands are now capitalizing on its power. Pepsi and McDonalds were amongst the first in the UK to bring branded filters to users. Luxury fashion labels like Burberry are also using it to air a live showcase and give an insider’s view of exclusive campaigns to their audience.

I know we’re not all as big as Pepsi, or as cool as MTV, and as a place for small businesses to advertise, Snapchat hasn’t diversified enough yet. Advertising on the platform is still so expensive it's beyond the reach of all but the very biggest brands. However for small brands and businesses there are spades of ways Snapchat can be used as a potentially valuable marketing tool. 

So, is Snapchat a platform you should spend time on?

In successful marketing campaigns, stories are key. Snapchat can be a great story-telling tool to bring your audience creative and engaging messages. It’s story format makes it ideally suited to tell an evolving story. Each snap acts as a page in a book and can be presented as video, pictures, emojis, text, or a combination of all of these. It can be used to build anticipation for a product launch, special offer or simply create something funny or engaging for users to watch.

So why should we be freaked out by using Snapchat? It could have something to do with the fact that 71% of their user base under the age of 34 and they are just simply not the target audience. Could it also just be that as marketers we think it’s irrelevant and stupid?

The informality of snapchat may not suit your brand but it does fill a very specific niche within the social media landscape. It offers your brand the chance to interact with users in a way that no other social media platform can.

Below are some good examples of ways to use Snapchat as a part of your social media strategy. And if your brand’s target audience is not on Snapchat yet, it might well be soon.

1. Access to exclusive events and behind the scenes - Burberry

Snapchat is useful in order to generate interest in products or exclusive services. One example was the exclusive glimpse at the Burberry campaign before its full launch. Photographer Mario Testino captured the campaign and shot via Snapchat. Images were available to view on the platform for just 24 hours. This is not Burberry’s first experiment with Snapchat, a day prior to the brand’s London Fashion Week show, Burberry previewed the collection for its Snapchat followers and dedicated a live story to the event.

2. Tell stories - WWF

The Danish branch of the World Wildlife Fund is taking advantage of the fleeting nature of Snapchat to illustrate just how quickly it takes for an endangered species to be wiped off this planet. The campaign featured the sad faces of wild animals like presented like selfies and text that said "Don't let this be my #LastSelfie." A great example of channel specific creative.

3. Collaborate with takeover influencers – Airbnb

Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodation all over the world, so it couldn’t be more fitting for the brand to use Snapchat to showcase the amazing cities to visit. Recently the brand cooperated with a few of Instagram's influencers, letting them snap on behalf of the company, to narrate their days spent around Paris, Hong Kong and Toronto, living in the city as a local.

4. Make people laugh - Cadbury Crème Egg

Comic content is highly shareable and many of the most successful Snapchat marketing campaigns have been those which make people laugh. Cadbury is the first chocolate brand in the UK to use Snapchat’s sponsored lens which allows users to revamp their selfies with a creamy-egg twist.

5. Unique and unexpected – Domino’s

Urgency and scarcity are well known to improve marketing conversion rates. Snapchat’s time-limit feature makes it a great platform for this. Snaps disappear after you’ve watched them so you have to act quickly if you want that discount (sounds exciting right?).

The pizza delivery brand Domino’s took this to another level by creating a short film on Snapchat where it hides a unique discount code that can be used with an online order. 

Watch the short film here.