By MELISSA HENDERSON
In less than a year, Snapchat has become the most-used and downloaded social media application. The app logs roughly 400 million messages, and on top of that, users have been quick to adopt the mobile-only social platform into their daily digital habits. It can be used to get daily news, check in with friends and tap into the latest pop culture gossip in seconds.
Its influence in the media and industry is proving to be significant for marketers and in communications applications. Although its 23-year-old CEO, Evan Spiegel, created the app in 2012 with a goal of sharing content that disappears and with no revenue goals in mind, Snapchat has amassed a huge following and has become a business worth about $10 billion.
Because Snapchat guarantees engagement by requiring users to tap screens to start the video, as well as a newly-added skip feature for faster viewing, creative content marketers are gravitating to it for hard data. It also shows videos and photos on the site in full-screen mode, another selling point for content marketers.
Reporters and editors are also using the platform to re-purpose news that appeals to their tech-savvy, social media-loving audiences. Fusion.net is an early adopter of Snapchat and uses it like a daily magazine.The app’s real estate on Fusion’s “Discover” page allows users outside of the U.S. and the United Kingdom to access social justice news, with Canada being their largest market. This includes a lot of coverage of issues local to them that wouldn’t necessarily be picked up on the nightly news.
Stories are re-purposed from Fusion’s website content for their Snapchat following, said Nuria Net, an editor of special projects and social storytelling for the network. Fusion has dedicated an entire staff of writers, producers and videographers to producing high-quality content for Fusion’s Snapchat account.
The number of people tuning in to Fusion shows how successful it’s been in real time. Some stories re-purposed from Fusion even do better on Snapchat, and there’s a separate Twitter feed that enables the dialogue to continue.
“Our reporting style has evolved because we’re experimenting with new formats,” Net said. “It’s also content viewed exclusively on the phone, for a younger (teen audience) and international audience. We look for stories that are resonating with young people, stories they are sharing online through social networks like Instagram.”
Snapchat’s Discover is also fast becoming a revenue driver. According to an article in “Business Insider”, Snapchat is charging upwards of $400,000 to advertise on the platform’s live feed, space that’s reserved exclusively for curated content, ranging from the Super Bowl to the MTV Music Awards. The content is fresh and relatable, similar to what’s trending on Twitter or Instagram. In addition, websites like Cosmopolitan and Buzzfeed, which are early adopters of the platform, can sell ads within Discover and keep 75 percent of the profits.
And as marketers struggle to quantify social metrics, using Snapchat as part of that strategy is a no-brainer, especially if your target audience is obsessed with discovering new content on their phones. How usable the app is for your marketing plan is up to the individual marketer. While it is still relatively new, a few companies and publishing platforms are setting the tone when it comes to their use of Snapchat.
Blavity and TravelNoire, technology-driven content marketing outlets for people of color, have Snapchat accounts that focus on their respective communities. The Snapchat of Blavity.com, “The Voice of the Black Millennial,” features snippets of the editorial team’s activities, as well as reports on what’s trending around the country. Blavity.com focuses on aggregating trending content into articles, but the company also uses the platform to sell products under the hashtag #blackgirlmagic. Since Blavity’s audience is already on Snapchat, it’s a natural extension of its marketing plan.
Blavity uses Snapchat to reach high school and college students, as well as to capitalize on viral content, founder Morgan DeBaun said.
“It’s pretty flexible,” DeBaun said. “Whenever someone on the team is doing interesting things, we give them access to Snapchat.”
The results are similar for TravelNoire.com, which focuses heavily on bringing its audience lots of visual content. TravelNoire founder and CEO Zim Ugochukwu, uses Snapchat to feature photos from her journeys around the world and to share travel tips. The site’s Snapchat account also refers visitors back to TravelNoire to view more content and sign up for a newsletter.
Ugochukwu says she utilizes two separate Snapchat accounts: One for transparency, and the other to showcase images that may also be found on other social media platforms.
“Our Travel Noire Snapchat focuses on our team and our travels all over the world,” Ugochukwu said. “My personal Snapchat shows a little about how I like to work. We use the TravelNoire Snapchat to expand on the images we from our team travels on Instagram.”
Businesses are also using Snapchat to promote products, build brand loyalty and highlight micro level company goals. Snapchat’s unique storytelling features push the boundaries of digital communication. There are many creative ways to share videos or a “snapsterpiece” using fingertip-written or typed out text, fun colors and emojis anywhere on a phone’s full screen.
Although Karmaloop.com has been at the forefront for using Snapchat to promote flash sales, retail brands have also adapted Snapchat’s promotional capabilities. As I wrote recently for XOJane, brand marketers are using the platform to share one-off promotional codes and to launch contests. These activities not only entice followers to stay engaged, they build brand loyalty.
So, is Snapchat just a trend that’s going to mesh with all the social media platforms? Well, it’s the fastest growing social media app and has more valid engagement metrics than any other social media outlet. Moreover, it’s Live Stories functionality focuses on showcasing different countries around the world, with recent spotlights being Bahrain and Thailand. Diversity and bringing people together is part of the Snapchat’s overall ethos, providing a path for publishers and brands to be a bigger part of the digital conversation.
Melissa Henderson is a freelance writer and content strategist living in New York City. Her work often appears online, in print and even on-screen on topics including fashion, beauty, lifestyle, art, philosophy and pop culture. You can read more of her writing here.