Like most social media platforms, Snapchat enables friends, colleagues and families to stay in touch, share messages, images and interact. It basically enables users to ‘snap’ (take photos) and ‘chat’ – hence the name ‘Snapchat’.
One of its main features, which is one of the reasons it’s become so popular, is ephemeral messaging which simply refers to the ability of users to post messages and videos that will self-destruct.
It’s what’s appealed to younger audiences around the world. All posts shared will be auto deleted forever – so if you say or do something outrageous, chances are it will disappear into the ether – unless of course someone swift fingered goes ahead and saves the video or snap.
It was created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown back in September 2011 and was initially known as Picaboo, I suppose a play on the repetitive baby game ‘peak a boo’.
A few years back Facebook reportedly tried to buy rival Snapchat for a cool $3billion so that it could tap into that younger audience that Snapchat boasted about. Whether it’s true or not is uncertain but the two social media platforms haven’t stopped being competitive since the suspected purchase.
What’s more Mark Zuckerberg co-founder of Facebook has turned his attention elsewhere long ago with the purchase of photo sharing app Instagram for a reported $1 billion.
That doesn’t mean that Snapchat isn’t still a force to be reckoned with. The question is: Is it right for your business? Here we unpack some of the pros and cons for using the site which boasts millions of users, plenty of features and fancy technology.
Reasons for using Snapchat
You can promote your business
Snapchat is easy to use, and this platform is ideal for visually promoting your brand and business. Celebrities, such as Khole Kardashian, Ariana Grandem, Ed Sheeran and Liam Payne, use it to give their fans a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into their fabulous lives and there’s no reason why you can’t promote yourself and the business in the same way.
You can edit photos and videos to add effects, words, stickers and more images. But millions of videos and images are shared every day so it’s important to do something meaningful and different to stand out from the crowd. If you’re keen to attract a young crowd to your business, then this is where to find them with some reports saying that 71% of users are under 34 years of age.
You can do cool things with augmented reality (AR)
There’s no doubt about it, augmented reality (AR) will change our lives and will form a big part of our lives going forward. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has labelled AR ‘big and profound’. It’s addition to our lives will make things easier – think Ikea’s Place where you can see if the furniture pieces you are about to purchase will fit into your room before you buy them. Games, such as Pokemon Go, have also embraced AR. Think back to when Pokémon Go first relaunched and the frenzy it caused with people running around parks and streets catching Pokémon under bushes and bridges. Snapchat has embraced AR too with its 3D Bitmoji and Snappables where users can share lenses and play games with each other using AR. It’s definitely one of the main attractions to using this social media platform.
You have a captive audience – literally
Non-skippable ads, also known as ‘forced view’ advertisements, are a feature on the social media platform, which it launched this year. They are six second video adverts that cannot be skipped by the social media user. In the past, users were able to skip ads and Snapchat was opposed to non-skippable advertising. However, it is somewhat in keeping with its original policy as experts have pointed out that non-skippable ads only appear in Snapchat’s collection of ‘Shows’ and not in user-generated stories.
Ephemeral messaging allows you to be experimental and edgy
Content appears briefly and then disappears. It means your audience has to react immediately to take part – so think about the kind of power that could bring in the form of instant sign ups and flash sales.
If you offer these often enough to gain some traction users will follow you to see what you’ll do next – yes, the concept of loyalty is back! It’s all about FOMO – the ‘fear of missing out’ and it can be a powerful tool in your marketing and sales arsenal.
Reasons against using Snapchat
It’s not profitable (for now)
According to businessinsider.com, Snapchat lost $514 million last year and has warned that it ‘may never be profitable’. So, while advertising on it or using it may expose you to millions there’s no telling whether it’s a sustainable business in the long run – that all depends on its users and how much they will use it in the future. In contrast, dominant social media platform Facebook made $11.97 billion in revenue in the first three months of the year, up 49% from the previous year.
Snapchat is expensive to advertise on
There’s no doubt that you will reach millions of followers with your adverts with a reported 186 million people using this social media platform. Campaigns and prices vary. But, according to wallaroomedia.com, as of June 2018 the cost for Snap Ads start from $3,000 (£2,356.56*) a month.
This doesn’t include the agency fee or the cost of creating the advert. To upgrade to Snapchat Sponsored Lenses will set you back quite a bit as it starts from $450,000 per day from Sunday through to Thursday and if you want to advertise on Friday and Saturday be prepared to pay $500,000 per day.
The reason for the high cost is that the audience interaction with adverts on Snapchat is quite high as the ads are generally designed for people to play with them, which they do – for generally 20 seconds on average.
While this may not sound like a long time, remember that most people tend to hate the sight of ads and tend to flick through them or ignore them on other platforms. Snapchat also enables you to message to your audience about your location through fun, sponsored geofilters, which allow you to add a location illustration specifically around where your business or branch is located. According to Quora.com local geo filters can be as little as $5 but special events can escalate the price to $20,000 for one hour.
Snapchat Discover is also costly at $50,000 a day. Finally, ‘Snap to Unlock’ are Snapchat’s latest advert offerings. It’s not clear though, how much it costs.
You shouldn’t rule out its competition
WhatsApp has stolen Snapchat’s thunder before. A report by techcrunch.com points out that WhatsApp Status, a clone of Snapchat Stories, has around 450 million daily active users while Snapchat has 188 million in comparison. But according to industry commentators, WhatsApp doesn’t have as many cool features as Snapchat Instagram.
Remember, ephemeral messaging is not unique to Snapchat. When Instagram added the feature, it saw growth to over 375 million monthly users as of April 2017, according to techcrunch.com. Make sure, therefore, that you also have presence on other platforms – to keep more bases covered.
Ephemeral marketing could lead to risk
As explained earlier, ephemeral messages are only visible for a short period of time before they self-destruct. It’s by no means a new concept but it creates mystery. It gives businesses the ability to create a ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) and hooks audiences in.
But there’s a temptation to go too far and there are some who have taken it to extremes only to regret it later. It could engage more loyal customers, but one wrong move and it could be a PR disaster waiting to happen.
Also, to keep your fans looking out for more you have to constantly come up with engaging content on a regular basis. Do you have the budget, skills and technical resources to keep this up? If so, then Snapchat is for you. If not, you’ll have to rethink your strategy.
So should you use Snapchat for your business or not? Like all social media platforms, Snapchat comes with its pros and cons. It certainly presents different ways in which you can market your business to a (mostly) younger audience.
The question you have to ask is whether you have the imagination, ingenuity and the budget to keep up the momentum once you have started? Or will your experience on Snapchat be like the ephemeral content it’s famously known for – here today and gone tomorrow?
The best way to learn whether it’s something for you or your business is to engage with the social media platform yourself and get to know what it’s all about. Find a way of telling your own story.
At the very least you can have some fun with it – go ahead: warp your head, put on a weird hat and grow a mustache (even if you’re female) and see how others engage with and make videos. You could learn something along the way and gather some new fans in the process.
*Correct as at 27 November, 2018