Snapchat as an interface to the customer: How companies can profit from the trending app

15.07.2016 Rebekka Riek

A standard social media channel definitely looks different: Users want to upload content that will be seen, commented on, liked and shared by as many people as possible, right? But apparently there are around 150 million people around the world, mainly between the age of 13 and 30, who disagree - those, who use Snapchat on a daily basis. Snapchat does not have any of those basic features that we know from our familiar social media channels. But what exactly is Snapchat and why is it so popular despite these missing functions?

Snapchat is mainly a simple instant messaging app for mobile use and, in contrast to most other messaging apps, works vertically, i. e. with the full upright length of the smartphone display. Snapchat serves the purpose of generating attention, spreading “real” moments with creative contents. The app consists of three main screens: Snap, Chat and Watch.

Sharing, communicating, consuming

Snap: The heart of the app - a snapshot, so to say, which can be artistically adjusted by lenses, geo filters and text, among other things. (Don’t worry, explanation will follow!) A Snap can be a photo or a video. This Snap can be shared with individual friends or added to a “Story”. If it is “only” shared, the content is retrievable for a period of 1 to 10 seconds (depending on the setting). If it is published within a so-called Story, the content is available for 24 hours. A Story can consist of up to 100 Snaps.

Chat: Here, users can communicate. Old-fashioned, via text input and Snaps, since the beginning of 2016 also via video or voice call. Of course this function is also available for the communication between businesses and customers.

Watch: Here, a user can see the stories of friends and brands that he is following. An extension of this part are the so-called “Discover Stories”. Those are, at this time, still represented by a few exclusive companies, which publish various contents as a story and by swiping up, additional information can be retrieved, for instance in the form of articles.

In spite of its differentness, Snapchat still has one important similarity with other social media channels: Users can connect with each other. Adding users works either via a search for contacts in your smartphone’s list of contacts, by username or by Snapcode (basically a barcode for snapchat, designed as a white ghost on a yellow background with a lot of black dots). And in specifically this area the app shows a little flaw: You obviously can’t spread your username/Snapcode to people that you are not yet connected with via Snapchat itself. The consequence: You have to fall back on other social media channels that you are already signed up for.

Which opportunities present themselves for businesses?

As a business, naturally you now get to a point where you ask yourself: “What can we actually do with Snapchat and does it even make sense for us?”

First off, it should be mentioned that Snapchat (up until now) offers relatively limited targeting options: Gender, age, location. In the broadest sense (e. g. for ads in the “Discover” area), topical targeting is possible as well.

For businesses, the following opportunities can be offered on Snapchat to get in touch with users:

  • Ads: Videos in a vertical format are placed in between Snaps in stories (by friends, businesses or discover stores). For more information, users can swipe up, e. g. to read a follow-up article. If the video is irrelevant for the user, he can simply “swipe it away”. Until now, placing ads has always happened directly through Snapchat. But recently it became known, that Snapchat now offers ad placements by third parties with an ad API.
  • Lenses: Silly face animations, which the user can apply to the design of his Snaps. This includes, for instance, the popular rainbow filter, where a user can have a rainbow run out of his mouth. The American fast food chain Taco Bell has used this option and offered users “taco lenses”. Costs for offering such a lens are at around 450,000 Dollars per day for businesses, according to bloomberg.com
     

 

 

  • Geofilter: Location based overlays can be applied to Snaps in order to individualize them. These filters are often limited to a specific, very limited area and time frame. Businesses can, for instance, use them for a regional event for a limited time (fairs, concerts, etc.). As one of the first businesses, McDonalds has offered a filter with french fries and burgers, which can only be retrieved in McDonalds branches. 
     

 

 

  • Live Stories: Businesses can sponsor story topics, where users can add their own and thematically relevant Snaps. The city of Paris has taken it up at the beginning of the year and created a story called “Paris”, where users can add their best Paris snaps. This way, a very personal and individual Paris guide has been created, which, in the best case scenario, has motivated some Snapchat users to travel.
  • Own Snaps: Of course, the same things that private users like about Snapchat goes for businesses as well: Snapping (and even for free so far!). Creative snap chatters find themselves for instance at Birchbox (an American shipping service of beauty product samples). As an announcement for a special edition they snapped a first, exclusive view behind the scenes and added an URL. Users had to be quick to take a screenshot of the Snap so they could then use this URL to order the special edition.
     

For businesses that are already on Snapchat and also for those, who are planning to open up an account, it’s important to keep up, closely watch the constant developments, try out new features and don’t be afraid to throw routine behavior overboard. Because, to quote Snapchat: “Life’s more fun when you live in the moment!”

Referenceses

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snapchat/id447188370?mt=8