Should we believe the Snapchat hype?

Should we believe the Snapchat hype?

Jan 14 2016 | by ROBIN PAINTER

There is a lot of buzz around the marketing opportunities on Snapchat at the moment. It feels like there is a blog post about it on leading industry websites on an almost daily basis, with opportunistic titles like ’20 reasons why your brand needs to be on Snapchat’ or ‘Snapchat - the future of social media advertising’. But with very little evidence of any company seeing a return for their efforts and investment, should we believe the hype?

First things first, I’m not rubbishing the idea of Snapchat being an effective digital marketing channel for brands. However, I do think we need to be careful when we hear sweeping statements like ‘your brand needs to be on this emerging social channel’.

Snapchat does have some great stats to boast. For example, it has over 100 million active users and around 70% of them are sharing content every day. Nearly 9,000 photos are shared every second, more than any other social channel, and it achieves around 6 billion video views per day. In fact, because of its impressive reach and engagement capabilities, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion - an offer that was swiftly turned down. 

So, Snapchat clearly has a large and growing slice of the social media pie, and we can see that, particularly from a B2C marketer’s point of view, it looks like a great opportunity.

Is it right for all brands?

The majority of Snapchat’s audience is 13 to 24 year olds, so if your target market falls outside of this demographic then, no, it might not be an effective digital marketing channel for your brand.

It is also a very expensive channel, with advertising units on its Discover platform costing brands ten of thousands of pounds. So if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere.

Less that 1% of all advertisers worldwide are using Snapchat at the moment. This is a figure that is set to increase significantly over the next couple of years, due to the social channel’s emerging position in the market. But, advertisers need to consider the following… 99% aren’t using Snapchat currently. There has to be a good reason for this. It’s not going to be right for everyone, so brands should choose their digital channels wisely and not just jump on the latest bandwagon to roll into town. 

Did someone say bandwagon?

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen advertisers ploughing time and money into other growing social networks, like Pinterest and Instragram, and the hype around Snapchat at the moment seems like it may be deja vu.

Pinterest and Instagram are very effective and worthwhile channels for some brands, but many marketers were caught up in the buzz surrounding these platforms, throwing resources at trying to make them work before realising they were barking up the wrong tree. 

This is the danger with Snapchat. Marketers can have a tendency to jump onto every new or emerging platform, wasting time trying to work out how to make a return. And then, before figuring it out, moving onto the next big thing!

But, look at the brands already using Snapchat…

Discover is Snapchat’s content hub for brands, currently being used by major players like Cosmopolitan, the Daily Mail and Sky Sports. Over 70 million people used it last month so, again, the stats look impressive. In fact, Cosmopolitan is averaging 3 million viewers every day through Discover, suggesting there is a real opportunity for brands, particularly well-known publishers, to engage with their readers through this channel.

Snapchat Discovery

And there’s the opportunity. A chance for well-known content publishers with an already established and growing readership, targeting a younger customer demographic.

Snapchat is not a platform for all brands. It is right for some, however, and over time more brands will find success using it, if they have content that resonates with a particular audience. The fact that it’s working for the likes of Cosmopolitan, doesn't mean it will work for everyone. So, advertisers run the risk of putting money and effort into something that may deliver very little ROI.