2014: Snapchat might be 2014’s best short-marketing platform

It’s time to start looking into reading the tea leaves to divine what will be the most prominent trends in 2014.  First up: short and perishable messaging – represented most popularly by the platform Snapchat.


Snapchat is one of the first ‘perishable’ messaging and social media platforms (meaning that the messages self-destruct after viewing.

Snapchat effectively capitalized on two trends – perishability and short length – to capture a huge audience.  Reading the rest of this post will introduce you to Snapchat, explain why you should care, and introduce Snapchat’s new ‘Stories’ function – giving marketers a new way to tell stories.

Is short the new long?

Anne Handley wrote in Entrepreneur, “The new word in content marketing is small.  Increasingly, brands are marketing themselves in short-form social media like Vine, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

One important lesson given the proliferation and popularity of short-form social networking platforms – it is going to become increasingly important to learn to compress our storytelling to distil each brands’ story quickly. Not only do we need to consider shorter storytelling but we also should think about the perishability of messaging.One platform that is entirely based around short messages in a perishable format is Snapchat.

Snapchat allows users to send ‘snaps’ (pictures/messages) that permanently ‘self-destruct’ 10 seconds after they are opened by their intended target – they are, by design, temporary messages of temporary duration.

Why should you care about Snapchat?

Well the first reason is – trends do matter, as Seth Godin said on his blog last week, “Rapid change exposes the work of outsiders, neophytes, and most of all those attracted to the chance to grow fast – Rapid change sweeps aside the status quo and those that defend it (the stuck formal geniuses and the stuck bureaucrats).  It replaces them with those willing to leap.”

Lots of people seem to believe that ‘short messaging’ and Snapchat have legs – in separate ‘end-of-year-prediction’ articles bloggers Mike Saunders, Fredrick Gonzales highlighted this trend and there are articles all over the net about using Snapchat for marketing (from ‘Mobile Marketer’ to ‘Tech Crunch’, even ‘AdWeek’).  Emily Cramp of ‘Thinkhouse’ says in the Guardian UK that, “Brands that want to connect with youth audiences in a credible way will focus more than ever on…clever and bite-sized content.”

A second reason is that Snapchat is becoming incredibly popular across the board (it’s not just for kids).  Saul Klein of Index Ventures says, “Snapchat…was barely known a year ago.  In June 2013 its estimated 150 million monthly users sent 200 million pictures and videos a day. There are currently four times as many images shared on Snapchat a day as on Instagram.”

In addition, with all the privacy concerns created by Big Data and the ongoing and rolling NSA challenges (apparently, the NSA is now spying on World of Warcraft – not kidding) people are starting to backlash against the long-life-social networking post.  Some are arguing that it will compete with Facebook directly in a relatively short-time.

Snapchat also has what Saul Klein calls, ”A highly disruptive counter-meme.  It’s a service that’s more intuitively human than Google’s ‘store everything’ approach.  It’s all about the fleeting ephemeral moments that we share before they disappear.”

Snapchat Marketing?

So, now that you care, can you market successfully on Snapchat? Depending on your business model, Snapchat offers unique and interesting functionality that creates opportunities for one-on-one marketing between customers and brands.

How is this possible?  How can a platform based on messages with a limited shelf life create opportunities for marketers?

Even at the launch of Snapshot, inventive companies were using Snapchat to send one-time ten second coupons to be cashed in as they were opened at the register – giving new meaning to the limited time offer.  Obviously, the perishable nature of the messages can also add a sense of drama to your marketing effort.

But, in October, Snapchat added two new functions that promise much richer prospects for marketers:

First, ‘Snapchat stories.’  ‘Stories’ allows a user (or business) to cobble together a string of ‘Snaps’ into what they call a ‘story.’  Each ‘story’ has privacy controls (as to who can see it) but is available for 24 hours after its posting.   From 10 seconds to 24 hours and from one ‘Snap’ to a string of ‘Snaps’ adds great potential for brands to utilize Snapchat to tell stories to customers.

Many have suggested using Snapchat as a marketing tool to give users exclusive offers, sneak peeks of prototype testing, coupons, cheat codes for games, treasure hunts (users identifying items or places in pictures) within the time limit of the 24 hours etc.

Second, after you finish a story there is a ‘double tap to x’ function.  In other words, when you finish seeing the story – a marketer or user could create a link that takes the watcher to a new place if they simply double tap.  On the Snapchat version of iTunes, double tapping is set to take the listener to the iTunes page of the band you were listening to.  Imagine your ‘snaps’ getting interested viewers back to your home or landing pages and through the purchase funnel.

It is a good idea to use every tool available to you to connect in every way possible with your potential customers.  Snapchat offers some really unique possibilities and in a way that could create much more personal advertising than was traditionally possible.

2014 could be the year of Snapchat marketing!

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