Snapchat turns fleeting content into real-time marketing

Remember when Facebook was a new, disruptive platform just for college kids? Fast-forward to 2013, where the tech industry focus has shifted to mobile. Those who are noticed are the innovative, disruptive and, sometimes exclusive mobile applications. It seems like apps must hold intrigue, interest, guarantee continued usage, and ultimately build a model that leads to monetization. All apps are in different stages of their journeys, but I believe that those offering exclusivity build intrigue and increase adoption.

One App doing that now is Snapchat, which allows you to send disappearing photos or videos (of very limited time) to friends. Once you view the photo or video, you have at most 10 seconds to react. For those 10 seconds, you are a part of the club.

It’s growing at an impressive and exponential rate- between December 2012 and April 2013 photos shared daily via Snapchat rose 200% from around 50 million to 150 million.  (Business Insider)  This rise in interest and the exclusivity factor lead us all to wonder, how can and should brands explore using Snapchat?

Opportunity for brands?

There is immense opportunity for brands as the rise of mobile usage almost guarantees a connection to drive both online and in-store traffic. (According to comScore, last year smartphone penetration crossed 50 percent for the first time, led by Android phones. People spend 63 percent of their time online on desktop computers and 37 percent on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, according to comScore.” Read more here.)

A few ways to think about how to implement using Snapchat are:

  1. Introducing or re-introducing products organically and create limited time rebates, discounts, or give a freebies (of a new product) with creative “Snappable” content. Taco Bell “Snapchatted” fans a picture announcing their Beefy Crunch Burrito. This was a great way to build deeper connection with fans by offering them exclusive content in a new and unusual way.
  2. Applying a mobile lens through the whole purchase cycle – from using a “snap” to provide a code for access to an exclusive mobile website to “snapping” a discount code for mobile purchase. Because Snapchat images and videos are ephemeral, the content is intrinsically more valuable.16 Handles, a frozen yogurt shop in NYC used Snapchat in a successful NYC-based  promotion. They asked consumers to send a picture of their purchases, and for that their social currency they provided a discount coupon that could be used during the point of sale. These discounts ranged from 15% to 100%, depending on the snap. In general the promotion was well received by the millennial fan base, as they were surprised they could interact with a brand through Snapchat, and were exclusively sent this discount (the majority of fans were not.)

What’s the risk?

One publicized concern about Snapchat is from parents who are concerned that Snapchat can be an outlet for sharing sexually explicit content. Teens aren’t viewing this in the same light, and instead use it to interact with their parents in hopes of proving them wrong and engaging in a personalized one-to-one way.

While privacy settings haven’t been formally created, Snapchat should explore this option, especially as they look to move into a monetized model with brands.

Whether or not you are a Snapchat fan, you can’t deny its selective advantage. As the CEO recently said on Mashable, “delete is the new default,” so let’s see how Snapchat capitalizes on their exclusive content and popularity among fans in the coming months.