Social Media: Snapchat

PicaBOO! was the name Snapchat went by during its design process so if you’ve spent the last 5 years wondering why their logo uses a ghost, well, there you go.

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September 2011 was the month Snapchat graced us with its ephemeral and cheeky 10-second long photo sharing service. Since it’s inception it has seen a massive rise in users and in June of 2016 saw 100 million users taking snaps to send to their friends.

While on a steady climb, Snapchat hasn’t been without its fallbacks. Stories of Snapchat having access to all the photos you take, even after they’ve disappeared, caused worry for users who were sending… less than desirable photos of themselves to others. Snapchat sent the online dating game into a tailspin with the instant ease of being able to send suggestive photos to your partner with such short periods of time. That’s what I meant by cheeky earlier on.

Snapchat later introduced a My Story feature which let users document their days by posting as many photos or videos they wanted to a story that their followers could watch and interact with. It was a great way for people to choose what content they wanted everyone to see – or just their close few friends. What’s more, is that when celebrities got hold of this app they started sharing their days on the red carpet or at private functions on Snapchat. The social photo/video sharing app blew up. With this new insight, which showed evidence how volatile the app was for individuals, brands then took on board the app to increase their brand awareness.

All of a sudden Snapchat saw the introduction of the discovery channel (This blog writes its self) which brands could be a part of. It became no longer an app dedicated to friends just sharing content between each other, but a way for users to access specialty content, contribute to events around the world, and overall feel a part of the lives of the people they adored.

But then something changed….

Filters. 

If Snapchat does anything the best, it’s filters – not like Instagram filters, I’ll get to that in another post.

The dog filter, holiday themed filters, geo-filters which we use to share our location, music filters, pop culture filters, American election filters, movie release filters. I’m running out of examples to explain why Snapchat does filters the best. I’ll admit, my mind was blown when I tried one of these filters for the first time and it altered my facial expression and tracked it so well while I moved around. I was like, “This is it. Stop the presses. We need nothing else.”

Where filters really started to evolve was with the geofilter. All of a sudden, you’ve taken a photo one day and you’re scrolling across to see if there’s’ anything new and this odd caricature with your town’s name comes up. What’s this? A gift from the Gods?

Geo-filters introduced a whole new meaning to branding when it came about. Companies would use a filter and map it out so anyone on their premises could share their location. Even better, it gave this power to individuals who could create their own geo-filters to celebrate their birthdays, mark the territory of their man cave, promote events and add some virtual signage to their location.

Filters really began to change the way we looked at photo and video sharing services and added a new dynamic to engagement and what it meant to interact with each other and the platform we were using.

So what’s in it for brands? No, wait, what’s in it for me?

The thing I like about Snapchat is that everyone using it is on the same battlefield. Everyone has the same tools to work with and the same limitations. What brands do is they use their leverage of being a specialty interest to increase the attractiveness of their short-lived content. Have an event you’re hosting? Snapchat the whole thing. You’re paparazzi and want to get a quick scoop at an airport? Whip that phone out and put some bunny ears on Kim Kardashian. The way in which we use the mechanics of a social platform are what determine, “What’s in it for me?”

We’re given all these tools but we need to use them to our advantage for it to be effective.

I feel like Snapchat isn’t exactly a professional platform, what real value do brands get out of it?

Remeber geo-filters? There more than a way for users to let their followers know they’re at your location. It can so very quickly turn into free advertising. Brand advocacy. If you have a permanent geo-filter wherever you want it, people will use it. We weird like that.

I mean… wired.

But I understand where you’re coming from, Snapchat isn’t for everyone and it especially isn’t for every brand. You’ll need to really look at what the application can do for you and make sure you can capitalise on that.

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So what should I ask myself before I suggest to my manager we use Snapchat as a medium?

  • Are you a visually dominant brand?
  • Do you have offers that are only temporary that you only want some select few, dedicated followers to know of?
  • Do you really like the dog filter?

One again, the choice to use a social platform as a go-to profile for your company is entirely up to you and the social media team. You need to look at your brand, what you’re offering and then make a decision on what’s best for you.

How good is the dog filter, though?

ben-mahoney

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