Don’t look now, but the last bastion of social media for millennials, Generation Z and anyone else in their teens or early twenties has pretty much reached the tipping point.
Yup, Snapchat is about to go mainstream.
Founded four years ago by three Stanford University students, this mobile photo and video messaging app earned a rather edgy, even controversial, reputation along the way to mass acceptance, but those days are gone. Snapchat has grown up.
You heard me. Once associated almost exclusively with teenagers and risky behavior in front of the camera, Snapchat is now being used by businesses and brands as a cool, contemporary way to call attention to their existence in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace.
The numbers alone are staggering. More than 150 million people use Snapchat on a daily basis, a larger number than the 140 million who interact with Twitter every day.
And while Snapchat is clearly a huge hit with the younger crowd, its awareness and adoption levels among older Americans are increasing at a surprisingly fast pace. Not to mention how pleased brands have been with the effectiveness of ads on the app.
From General Electric to National Geographic, Cisco to Domino’s, Target to Target Bell, a small army of brands have already jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon, more than happy to have the opportunity to toot their own horns in front of a new audience and position themselves as being more creative, inventive, authentic and hip.
Heck, even the White House has an account on Snapchat.
What’s the big deal? I’m not going to lie. If your job has anything to do with marketing, advertising, PR or publishing, you shouldn’t have to ask.
Download the app instead and, well, snap to it. After all, we’re talking about one of the most popular social media apps right now. Chop, chop. Time is of the essence. You don’t want to be left behind.
Wait, why is Snapchat such a huge hit on social media? Ask Instagram. Why do you think they recently came out with Stories, a feature nearly identical to Snapchat’s that allows you to string together a series of photos and videos that will disappear after 24 hours? It’s called following the leader.
Fact is, there are a ton of reasons why Snapchat is all the rage right now. Let’s talk about just three that are quite obvious to me.
1. It facilitates creativity
Perhaps the most complicated channel on social media is also the most sophisticated from a user experience perspective.
Never mind the fact that you practically need a glossary to keep up with the language of the network. On Snapchat, there are a seemingly endless variety of filters, lenses, stickers, captions and other special effects to leverage to make a relatively ordinary picture (er, Snap) extraordinary.
You also have at your disposal such features as Stories (a compilation of your favorite photos and videos in chronological order that are saved for 24 hours), Memories (a collection of Snaps you’ve saved indefinitely instead of letting them disappear after they were viewed), Chat and more.
— Tiffany & Co. (@TiffanyAndCo) July 28, 2016
2. It encourages spontaneity
Real time is big time on social media, and with all due respect to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like, there may be no better way to capture and share a moment with your online audience instantaneously than Snapchat.
There’s Periscope, Facebook Live and other live-streaming video services, but there’s nothing quite like snapping a picture or video, adding some fantastically fun stickers to it, a filter like Face Swap (if you’re so bold), emojis, a little text for context and who knows what else before sharing it with an exclusive group of friends who more often than not will actually look at it.
Ask anyone who’s already on Snapchat. Users develop an addictive, almost inexplicable compulsion to share raw footage with this app.
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) July 25, 2016
3. It fosters camaraderie
This is Snapchat’s biggest advantage over the competition. The communities formed by its users are close-knit and exceedingly loyal.
As the famous Shakespeare line goes, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave….” Although in this case, no one is trying to deceive anyone. Impress, maybe. Entertain, definitely.
Personal intentions aside, brands can use Snapchat to inform, educate, capture and convert.
You can take advantage of the tight bonds that are established quite easily on this platform by earning the attention and trust of an engaged audience, one that has so much passion for your products and services that they’ll not only do business with you, they’ll evangelize on your behalf.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) August 2, 2016
While I’m not hear to tell you how to make money on Snapchat, I will say that it is a ridiculously popular place to hang right now, a place where many brands and businesses have already set up shop for advertising purposes.
Like a great, big land grab back in the good, old days, if you want to establish a solid presence in this particular space, you want to move quickly. Who’s in?
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