Snapchat. Currently at 200 Million active monthly users worldwide, it’s one of the most popular and quickly-growing networks out there.
It’s also one of the most confounding.
I’ve been on Snapchat for ages–a couple of years at least. Launched in September of 2011, Snapchat is really popular with millennials, which, I guess, is part of the reason I didn’t “get” it, but over the last year or so, it’s beginning to be more popular with the “up to 40” age-range. On top of that, I was kinda frustrated by it. If I can’t use a social networking tool for marketing, I don’t use it. Period. So, while I’ve been on it for a while, I haven’t been using it.
About a month ago, I decided to give it the old college try. For a month, I decided, I’d immerse myself in it, follow influencers, learn, and see if there was, indeed, some way that you could actually use Snapchat for marketing.
It’s been an interesting month, and I wanted to share with you what I learned.
- Snapchat is an photo and video app.
- Find and follow your friends. There are two ways to find people you know on Snapchat. You either have to know their exact username, or you can find them by their Snapcode. This is basically a QR code that you take a photo of while in Snapchat, and that will
- connect you to their account.
- Take a snap. Open up the app and take a photo. To take a video, hold the button down while you shoot. You’ll get a max of 10 seconds. It works with both the rear-facing, and the front-facing (selfie) cameras.
- Filters. After you’ve taken your photo, if you swipe in either direction, you’ll get filters. These filters include things like the time of day, temperature, or your location. When you shoot video, you’ll get additional filters that will allow you to do slow-mo or sped-up versions of your video.
- Text & emoji overlays. In the upper right-hand corner are three icons: a pencil, a text tool, and “stickers’ or emoji. You can draw on top of your snap with the pencil tool, and even change the colours. Many of the top snapchatters are really good artists, and very creative with this tool. Use the text tool to write overtop of your snaps. If you tap it a second time, it will allow you to write in bigger text. You can then pinch it to make it smaller, and use your finger to move it around. You can also choose text colours to make your words stand out. Finally, you can choose emoji or stickers. These you can also pinch to make smaller or bigger, and move around with your finger.
- Selfie filters. Turn on your selfie cam. Hold your finger down over your face, and you will be given some alternatives for silly selfie photos. These change all the time.
- Time your snaps. In the bottom, left-hand corner, you’ll see a timer. You can set the amount of time your snap is available for. You get between 1-10 seconds, 3 seconds is the default.
- Send your Snap. Touch the arrow in the bottom left-hand corner to send your snap. You have two choices. You can send it to a specific person (like a message) or you can send it to “My Stories.” This will make your snap available to anyone who follows you for 24 hours after you publish it.
But nothing remains?
And there’s the rub: the maximum amount of time that one of your snaps has to live is 24 hours. And this is the part that, I think, marketers struggle the most with. If, as a marketer, I can’t create a message that will get my audience to answer a specific call-to-action (like clicking a link, for example), what use is it? My Snapchat followers can’t even bookmark something to come back to later–it’ll be gone.
This, however, can also create an urgency–it can give the viewer the urge to act immediately.
One incredibly important piece of information that marketers need to know about Snapchat is about the nature of its culture. Snapchat, due to the nature of its self-destructing posts, is a network that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Wanna post a silly photo of yourself? Why not! It’ll be gone in 24 hours, and no one will be any the wiser. It’s much less polished than say, Instagram, where I feel like everything I post has to be perfect in order to get likes. Snapchat, on the other hand, is almost about celebrating silliness, mistakes, the no-makeup selfie. It’s a place where you can really be yourself, and who cares.
Celebs are starting to pick up on it, and if you follow, for example, @EvaLongoria, you’ll see her being silly in the makeup chair, eating sushi, indulging in donuts. It’s real, in a way that many networks were once, but are now carefully curated.