Do you know the feeling of curiosity when getting a notification on your smartphone which says you’ve received a Snapchat from someone and you are wondering what it is going to be? If you do, you probably already experienced this situation several times today, just like I did :). If you don’t, then you probably haven’t got Snapchat yet!
The app with the snap
So, what is this famous app exactly about? Well, it’s a mobile instant messaging application, in which photos, videos and messages can be sent and viewed during a limited time span. All you have to do is take a snapshot, add a caption, select a friend (or several friends) you want to send your snap to and limit viewing time to a few seconds. After the time span of your choice, the photo, video or message will self-destroy on the other people’s phone and it will be gone for ever.
What started off as a final project of a 23-year-old Stanford University student called Evan Spiegel turned into a world-famous application, with already over 8 million users worldwide today. Knowing that the application has only been around for 2 years now, that already 400 million messages are being sent every single day and that the founders recently turned down a three-billion-dollar offer from Facebook, I don’t think you can disagree when I say that is a pretty impressive realization for someone my age.
I have to admit, I have only known it for a few months myself, but it has evolved quickly from having one friend and really not seeing the purpose of it to sharing glimpses of my daily life with my closest friends and the other way around, whether I just want to show where I am or what I’m doing or share a silly face for no special reason.
Why? Euhm… Because it’s fun?
Sharing spontaneous glimpses of reality
As mentioned in my previous blog post about the fascinating world of selfies, Generation Y is also called the ‘ME’ generation, where we are all stars of our own soap operas in which all of our friends play their roles. Selfies are all about sharing experiences with each other and snapchat is a way to do that. And that is what makes it fun.
Contrary to us sharing photos and/or videos of ourselves on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., photos and videos shared via snapchat are not ‘out there’, which really turns them into glimpses of reality without documenting anything, sharing and experiencing things for one moment.
This is the feature which puts Snapchat one step ahead of other social sharing platforms such as Facebook and Instagram; it allows us to speak freely and puts us in control of the message delivery. And it can all be done without the watchful eyes of everyone in their social network or worrying about some invisible or unknown audience. On Facebook, a status update or photo is shared with every single one of your friends, but on Snapchat, it can only be viewed by a private, select group of people.
Though there’s nothing inherently dangerous about Snapchat, it’s often referred to as “the sexting app”. And it’s true, there is no 100% guarantee photos and videos will disappear (because one could take a screenshot, for example) and people can indeed use it for sex-related purposes, but I personally do not think this is a real issue. After all, you have it all in your own hands. If you keep in mind to never send media that could be embarrassing to you or anyone else, you’re safe :).
And after all, there are many more positive aspects about it: it is free, mobile visual, mysterious spontaneous and private. And it is one of these trends that are hot on the Web right now. Snapchat simply is the app that brings all these trends together. It’s a medium of communication that is very different from network photo sharing, closer than ever to what the SMS of the future will look like.
Is there a future for Snapchat marketing?
There definitely is! What started as a way to send funny, sexy or silly quick photos or videos to friends has turned into the next big thing for marketing teams. Especially now with the new feature ‘Snapchat stories’, there are a lot of more opportunities for marketers. The feature allows you to string together a series of snaps into a single stream that can be viewed over and over for 24 hours before it self-destroys. There is potential in this feature for marketers who wish to use it to promote daily deals or specials to an audience which will pay attention.
And rest assured: you will catch the attention. Whether the content is a coupon, a preview of the coming season’s new style or a promotional video, the target audience now has limited time to absorb the advertisement, which means you are grabbing their undivided attention for up to 10 seconds. The short time span adds a whole new dimension to the marketing game: it garners excitement, but it also forces quality and creativity: what can one actually do with a photo or a 10-second video?
MTV already used it to promote the new season of Geordie Shore by sending out exclusive photos and videos of the new season and Taco Bell recently did is as well to reintroduce its Beefy Crunch Burrito. Moreover, it is a way to get closer to your fans. It is all about treating them like personal friends and not like consumers.
And in the meantime, my Snapchat friends already know I am writing a blogpost about it, as I just sent them a Snapchat with that exact message ;). I’m sure they are curious to know what is in it. You see? It works.