Sudden changes from Snapchat

2 May

By Viki McAdoo

Over 700 million disappearing Snapchats are sent a day, that’s doubled since this time last year and with its latest update it is sure to double again. Just when everyone over the age of 14 had got their head around Snapchat, it’s updated. Snapchat now comes complete with an instant chat feature as well as live video chat functions. Many brands have been unsure of how to use it but gradually big players and smaller players are embracing it.

The latest surprise update has taken the social media world by storm causing chaos and confusion as the tutorial snap was watched. What’s it about? Let me explain…

It’s taking on the giants

When Facebook bought over the instant messaging giants WhatsApp it seemed like a direct move into the instant messaging marketplace. It was however, a move to monopolies the marketplace and increase downloads of Facebooks Messenger app which just happens to come complete with Skype-like calling services now integrated. Facebook are aggressively pursuing an acquisitions arms race and Snapchat put a hurdle in their way. In 2013, 23-year-old Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel rejected a $3 billion offer from Mark Zuckerberg reportedly because he sensed weakness and opportunity. Snapchat have just upped their game in this arms race which is becoming less about what you can buy and more about what you can develop.

It’s going to mean changes for your brand

Snapchats update should result in a new, slightly older segment of users. This means brands need to once again reassess what segment they can actually target using Snapchat, and how to do it.
Real life interactions with customers and consumers are coming ever closer for brands. Although at the moment the live feature is only applicable for person to person conversations, with time and patience it could become a really innovative way to show behind the scenes in sites. As a promotional tool it could be used as part of a competition, locking customers into starting a live conversation with you and then choosing a winner from those involved in live conversations.

It’s veering away from its traditional USP

I am a bit dubious. Snapchat rose to fame in a quick bolt of lightning because they were masters of one very simple and still very unique thing – they were masters of disappearance. There are aspects of the new feature which stay true to their disappearing act – all conversations disappear once both participants have left the conversation. This novelty is one that hasn’t been adopted by direct competitors.

Also, because users are always aware that snaps or the new conversations will disappear they focus and absorb all content – a VERY useful tool for marketers. In Snapchat’s blog post they have said, “Until today, we felt that Snapchat was missing an important part of conversation: presence. There’s nothing like knowing you have the full attention of your friend while you’re chatting,” but I don’t agree. Half the enjoyment in Snapchat was using facial expressions to say a thousand words to friends, but for brands it the attention that is valuable.

For now the Snapchat update has limited marketing options for brands but I suspect in the coming months this will change as Snapchat succumb to the need to monetise their app and users. Watch this space.


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