Snapchat is a photo-messaging app developed by a trio of Stanford University students and debuted in September of 2011. It didn’t take long for the app to grow, and by grow I mean over one billion photos shared within the first 13 months.
The app, which critics pegged as only being for teens to send inappropriate photos to one another, received even more criticism when they turned down Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer.
From day one, Snapchat had a few components to it that were compelling to brands.
- It hit the coveted millennial market. Snapchat was like the cool new kid at school, and more and more millennials shifted their attention there.
- Images and videos are a maximum of 10 seconds but more often than not you receive 100% attention in that time.
- Their users are extremely devoted and become their best marketers. Conversations starting with “are you not on Snapchat?” accompanied with a confused look are commonplace. Naysayers are often overmatched by the fervor in which users speak about the app.
Don Steele, SVP of Multi-Platform Marketing and Fan Engagement at Comedy Central, talks about their brand’s use of Snapchat candidly at the Baltimore Digital Summit. Even without the detailed analytics, he knows his brand has to be there because that’s where the 18-34 male demo is.
Snapchat’s next two moves were introducing Snapchat Stories as well as a chat feature with messaging capabilities. Snapchat stories allowed users to string together snaps to create a narrative that could be viewed by those you are connected with. The stories have a shelf life of 24 hours. Major brands quickly took notice and used the story feature as a way to recruit, raise awareness, entertain, preview products, and much more.
The chat feature was much more a gift to those loyal power users. They would now have the efficiency of communicating through photo, video, or text, all in real time without having to switch over to other applications to do so.
The Announcement of Discover
This past week Snapchat announced Discover, their latest upgrade (in addition to making messaging easier and streamlining the story feed) which is a new way for brands to create and disseminate content. Brands such as CNN, National Geographic, ESPN, Comedy Central, and The Food Network are providing users unique and creative news daily.
Users have access to compelling custom content through photos, videos, and design tools native to Snapchat’s platform. There are also multiple layers for advertisers. ESPN gets the brand recognition of being part of Discover, but Legendary pictures position their ads on ESPN’s “editions.” This provides a litany of benefits for brands.
Why is this different, and what’s next?
Snapchat made a statement when they announced that Discover “is not social media.” Rather than allow likes, shares, and retweets determine what is newsworthy, Discover is putting the power back in the hands of the creative and editorial staffs of the brand. Snapchat is banking that their users who are already spending a large chunk of their day will use that time within the app to check out the brands that interest them. If the brands can keep providing compelling custom content and keep it native to the platform they, will have the opportunity to have those users tune in daily.
Brands like AT&T have eyed the platform in order to really hit their younger demographic in a unique and creative manner. AT&T is about to announce a super hero series that can only be seen on Snapchat. The 12 episode series called “Snapper Hero” will have each individual episode disappear after 24 hours. The strategy of utilizing YouTube and Vine stars, also popular among Snapchat’s demo, promises to keep engagement at the forefront of their initiative.
What does this all mean for you?
It means Snapchat should now command some of your attention. If you aren’t on the app, download it, play around with it, and get acclimated. Follow brands that are relevant to you and check out the Discover updates to see the type of content being produced on a daily basis.
When Snapchat turned down Facebook’s acquisition offer, most were stunned by the gall of the young start up. Years later, Snapchat is emerging as a potential alternative for Facebook and the brands are starting to discover why.
Are you on Snapchat? Have you tried the Discover feature? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below!