The future of social media: Snapchat

Founders of Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the youngest platforms in social media but has certainly made an impact on the digital world very quickly. First launched in July 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown under the name of ‘Picaboo’, the inspiration of the platform was finding an answer to sending images to people that you may have later regretted. In September 2011 the platform was rebranded to ‘Snapchat’ and the growth started to snowball.

In October 2013, Mark Zuckerberg offered $3 billion to buy the platform, which was swiftly rejected. In 2014 Snapchat posted revenue of $3 million, in 2015 it rose to $50 million and this year they’re projecting $350 million in revenue. In March 2016 the platform was valued at $16 billion. Wise move rejecting Zuckerberg.

Snapchat history

Who snaps?

With over 100 million active users in 2015, users are collectively sending over 9000 snaps a second. In December 2015, 36% of Americans aged 18-29 had an account, and they are reporting over 7 billion video views each day.

Why Snapchat will soon change the way marketers market

It’s authentic

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat doesn’t allow you to force your audience to view pushy marketing messages on its platform. So if your brand has no interest in sharing engaging stories with your audience and your only objective is to push product down your customer’s throats, then Snapchat is not for you.

The language Snapchat uses demands authenticity. Instead of a ‘timeline’ or ‘newsfeed’ on Snapchat, you view a person’s or business’s ‘stories’. This playfulness and impermanence forces users to be their true selves and businesses need to follow suit.

Snapchat is easy to use, but it’s hard to be good at. Businesses who master and engage this platform early will be the winners.

It’s real-time two-way communication

All social media allows us to speak directly to our audience, but it doesn’t necessarily allow for two-way communication.

Many corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts will badge themselves as the platform where you can have a real time conversation with a representative from the organisation, but is it an honest and authentic conversation? On many of these accounts you’ll view stock standard responses coming from businesses, but what if customers could snap you a video of their enquiry and they could receive an immediate and custom response via chat or video? Customer service brilliance.

It’s marketing disguised as messaging

Through Snapchat brands are provided a direct line to their customers and, with the recent automation of the ‘Snapchat story’, this almost guarantees your followers will view your content.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter and Instagram there’s no clever algorithm determining what users see; it’s simply delivered to them almost in message form. This again highlights the need for businesses to be authentic and creative with their content because pushy marketing will quickly be viewed as spam and will result in your customers unfollowing you.

Just Snapchat it

So what is planned for the future?

Sharing functionality

Users currently cannot share content they view on Snapchat, but have hinted that this development is on its way. If you were able to ‘re-snap’ images or videos that were sent directly to you, it would almost defeat the original intent of the platform; so we’re predicting that this will be a function of the ‘story’ in the not so distant future.

Analytics

Snapchat won’t give you too much insight into who’s viewing your snaps and their finer demographics, but this will be here soon. With the rise of businesses and influencers paying attention to the platform, this is a natural and important next step.

Snapcodes

A snapcode is Snapchat’s version of a QR code. While the QR may have recently fizzled away, we might see the renaissance of this function via Snapchat to benefit brands by allowing followers to access exclusive offers and events.

While Snapchat has a long way to come if it’s to become the number one social network, the growth and demographics of this platform cannot be ignored. Consider how you can incorporate Snapchat into your social media strategy and the value this could add to your customers’ interaction with your brand.

Written by Natalie East