Snapchat is unequivocally and indisputably a staple of any tech savvy’s social media repertoire. In its 5 short years of life, its simple image sharing capabilities have transformed this once considered ‘baby’ of the social media family, into a fully-fledged adult, well and truly eclipsing the success of much older sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. This huge amount of growth in such a short span of time has not gone unnoticed, as companies globally have found themselves vying for advertising space, popular accounts to share information with consumers, and even attempts to purchase the app itself (looking at you, Facebook). Recent events have thrown a digital spanner in the works though, specifically Instagram, with their new ‘Story’ feature; a blatant copy of Snapchats already existing story function. With competition building, will Snapchat have a spot in the future? Or will its impact be as fleeting as the pictures sent within it?
A Snap-Shot of Snapchat
Humble in design and approachable in user functionality, Snapchat on the surface appears to be straightforward:
- A user is able to take a photo or video, add a filter and some text, then share it with whomever they desire. If sent to individuals, the photo will be erased after a maximum of 10 seconds, if set to the users ‘story’, it may be viewed by anyone for 24 hours.
- Also included is a simple messaging function, but in keeping with Snapchat’s theme of frivolity, they are also wiped every time you exit out of the chat.
“Among their most notable features are that the content (in theory) is not automatically archived—it disappears from view after a certain period of time—and that the apps’ stand-alone nature keeps conversations relatively private as well as limits their “discovery” online in the broader sense.” (The State of Electronic Discovery Amid the Rise of Snapchat, WhatsApp, Kik, and Other Mobile Messaging Apps)
The intricacies of this app lie in its extra features, features that have kept it interesting and desirable for both user and company alike. Without delving too far into the specifics, the top three features of Snapchat are:
- Snapchat Lenses
If you haven’t seen a photo of someone with a dog’s ears and nose, then you must be living under a rock. Previously a premium service, Snapchat have now made their lenses entirely free. The lenses work by adding various comical layers to a photo or video with examples including a face swap, vomiting rainbows, or the puppy lens aforementioned. These lenses have become distinctly recognisable as snapchat creations, so even when shared across Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, their origin is immediately known. Companies are also able to create their own lenses temporarily, creating a unique advertising opportunity.
- Geo-Location filters
Apart from the standard filters, users are also able to cover their photo or video with a ‘Geo-Location’ filter; a filter created and uploaded by the public via Snapchat’s website. When uploading the filter, a location and time frame must be chosen, then anyone within the specified location and time period are able to use the filter. This feature is often utilised by music festivals and special events, allowing attendees to be portable advertising by taking and sharing photos, thus creating an album within Snapchat for anyone to see.
- Discover mode
Discover mode provides easy and effective advertising space. Littered across the stories portion of Snapchat are the likes of Cosmopolitan, ESPN and CNN, each one offering easily digestible reads, live snippets of sporting events and even just your weekly horoscope. It is prime space for clever marketing.
The Stats Don’t Lie
It’s no secret that Instagram has a bigger user base than Snapchat. With double the daily active users of Snapchat (Instagram: 300 million, Snapchat: 150 million – Instagram Blog, Bloomberg Tech) it definitely boasts a much larger potential audience to any budding business looking to get their name out.
But what do the figures look like across the board? Edison Research 2016 reveals that Snapchat, even in the last year, has grown significantly in brand awareness, jumping an alarming 11% in comparison to Instagram’s 6%, positioning it now only slightly behind it. They’ve also been found to be tying in the percentage of people using each respective app multiple times per day, showing that despite having a smaller audience, Snapchat is able to keep up in terms of returning audience, undoubtedly due to features like snap streaks, which promote the constant to and fro between users. It also sits only 6% behind Instagram in total usage figures. Pretty impressive for having only half the daily user count, nice job, Snapchat.
How companies have implemented Snapchat
Testament to Snapchat’s versatility are the many ways in which companies have managed to implement the app, some managing to do so even without an actual account! The innate ability of Snapchat to make intimate, connected moments so quickly is what makes it such a worthwhile tool, even in industries that often shy away from social media such as the health or pharmaceutical industries. The potential to make a ‘day in the life of [name]’ or share important messages or success stories instantly with millions of people unlock potential unseen by other forms of social media today.
A perfect example of Snapchat savviness is the sports drink bath lens by Gatorade. During the Super Bowl this year, Gatorade released a lens that imitates the user getting a cooler of Gatorade poured over their head, as is customary to do to the coach of the winning team after a game of football. After sharing a number of sports stars, including Serena Williams, using the lens across social media, Gatorade let the masses at home do it themselves. By the end of the day, the lens had been used over 100 million times.
Despite emerging competition in its position, Snapchat remains the best at what it does. People are still using both Instagram and Snapchat for different reasons, making it just as relevant despite the current changes, and will likely stay this way until another app does fleeting and frivolous as well as it. Snapchat themselves seemed in fairly high spirits despite Instagram openly saying they copied the Story concept.
Author: Matthew Mortimer
Digital Democracy is a social media agency based in Sydney. Digital Democracy supports business in their social media marketing to help improve their bottom line.