Snapchat has exploded in popularity in just a few years, rising up to become a household social media name like Facebook or Twitter.
Snapchat was offered $3 billion in an acquisition bid by Facebook in 2013, and it’s only grown in popularity since then. Now four years in, Snapchat sees over 100 million daily active users, with close to 9,000 photos shared every second.
To the modern digital marketer, those numbers can make your mouth water. Compared to Facebook’s 1.31 billion active users, 100 million may not seem like much, but it’s still a major chunk of users available for an instant, popular mode of communication.
Snapchat’s marketing options aren’t as robust or as intuitive as a platform like Facebook advertising, but even organically using the app can yield you fresh visibility and availability for new audiences.
The question is, when you take into consideration the amount of time and effort it takes to establish a strong and continuous Snapchat presence, is the platform worth it for your brand?
How to Approach Snapchat Marketing
First, it’s important to know how your brand would market itself using Snapchat. Your first step is to claim a profile for your business, which functions just like a user profile. You’ll attract followers and send them “snaps,” which are photos or videos you’ve taken.
These snaps last for a pre-determined amount of time, such as 10 seconds, before they are deleted, and sit as pending in user newsfeeds until they are viewed.
Without a direct advertising option, this is similar to organic posting and reach on Facebook. Your goal is to provide users with great content—informative, entertaining, or some mix of the two—in the hopes of getting them to your site and purchasing your products.
The Lifespan Factor
The fact that snaps have a limited lifespan is off-putting to some newcomers. A post on Facebook lasts forever (theoretically), but a snap only lasts 10 seconds—does this mean that snaps are inherently less valuable? I’d argue no.
Most social posts are temporary, as few users venture to company pages’ long histories. Instead, posts are viewed for only a short while before they descend to irrelevance. Snapchat posts just do this more strictly and more formally.
Plus, since posts sit until they’re deliberately opened and viewed, users are more likely to pay attention to your content. In this regard, posts on Snapchat can actually be more valuable than those on Facebook.
Action Item: Snaps can have a lot of resonance for your brand, but make sure your already-existing followers on other social networks know about your presence on Snapchat by making your Facebook profile picture Snapchat-related or including a link to your Snapchat profile in your Instagram profile.
Fewer Social Signals
One of the downsides of Snapchat is that it offers fewer social signals than its closest competitors, Facebook and Twitter. Google doesn’t index any content from Snapchat (as it’s always temporary content), and you won’t gain any extra search visibility from posting often.
Plus, users aren’t able to share snaps with one another the way retweets and shares are available on other, more permanent platforms.
As a result, you’ll get less of a boost in search engine visibility, and your posts will be far less likely to go viral.
Action Item: While you won’t be able to gauge Snapchat success using traditional social and Google analytics, make sure to come up with your own KPI’s so that you know how to tweak your strategy or whether to continue on with Snapchat at all. For instance, one KPI could be media pickup about the creative strategies you’re using on the platform.
Snapchat is a young platform, and it’s being adopted by mostly younger users.
Take these audience demographics into consideration when determining whether Snapchat is going to be a worthwhile investment. If your primary demographics are middle-aged homeowners, Snapchat is going to be a barren wasteland for you.
If your primary demographics are teenagers and millennials, it could be a gold mine.
Action Item: If you’re not sure whether your audience would appreciate you on Snapchat, why not conduct a brief survey of your existing social media followers to see who uses Snapchat and who doesn’t?
If you’re making regular image- and video-based posts without going too crazy, Snapchat shouldn’t take up any more of your time than a Facebook or Twitter marketing campaign.
Unless you’re going all out, it should only take a few hours per week to maintain a presence. Most companies can afford this as an extra wing of a social media strategy.
Action Item: Experiment with Snapchat and compare your time investment to the actual value you’re gaining from the platform, however you define your goals on the network—a few hours for a couple of visits isn’t worth the effort, but a few hours for a few hundred visits is.
That means you’ll be dealing with far less competition, which could help sway you toward using the platform.
Action Item: If none of your competitors are on Snapchat yet, all the better! It’s time to pave the way. With fewer competitors, your messages will hit home more often, and each post you make will have more value.
The Bottom Line
Snapchat isn’t going to be the right platform or the right investment for every business. Each business has unique demographics, a unique brand, and a different amount of flexibility when it comes to marketing spend.
For example, if you’re working with a limited budget or if your brand is more traditional or more conservative, Snapchat should be low on your list of social media priorities. Facebook and Twitter can offer far more value for each dollar spent.
However, if your brand thrives on being cutting-edge, or if you want to appeal to a younger demographic and you’ve already established a strong presence on other platforms, Snapchat could be the perfect next step.
To learn more about the state of social marketing right now, click below to download Simply Measured’s 2015 State of Social Marketing Report.
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