Should Snapchat Be Used for Businesses?

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat_logoSnapchat is a mobile app, used for sending short videos or pictures that have a shelf-life of 1 to 10 seconds. Once the “snaps” are sent and viewed, they self-destruct and are deleted from the user’s app and  are no longer viewable. The app is mainly used by people between the ages of 13 and 29, with over 400 million messages sent everyday. Snapchat also has the ability to create “Stories.” The user can create a series of videos and/or images that will last throughout a 24 hour time period. This enables users to make a timeline story of their day or of other events. Recently, Snapchat rolled out a feature that lets users text chat and video call with other users. While Snapchat can be used for content marketing, it has its pros and cons.

 

Pros

Snapchat can be beneficial if you are targeting consumers under 30. It can be used to connect on a more personal level with a younger audience. A Snapchat employee said that the app is, “the most personal form of communication.” Others compare sending a Snapchat to consumers to be almost like picking up the phone and calling them directly. This level of connection makes the app a great tool for customer service and relations.

There are many innovative marketing tactics a business can dive into using Snapchat. Companies like Taco Bell have used Snapchat for new product releases, revealing new products through their Snapchat before revealing to the general public. Other companies, like 16 Handles, are using Snapchat for promotions and coupons exclusive to their Snapchat database. Some clothing brands are using Snapchat stories to show different ways to wear their products throughout the day. Snapchat could also be used for an insider’s view of the company and products that aren’t normally shown in other forms of marketing, but are still interesting for consumers. The app can be beneficial as a way to give customers information, run promotions to make profits or just to display brand awareness. Bonus: the app is free.

 

Cons

Because Snapchat is a mobile app, there’s no computer-based version. So as a company using Snapchat, there needs to be a designated device to use and monitor the app. There is also the issue of database collection. The app pulls people’s profiles based on phone numbers provided. Unless the company already has a good phone database that has consented to receiving promotions through their phone, a new database will need to be created. Promoting the Snapchat profile on other marketing outlets, like Facebook, could be a great start to creating a database.

Snapchat for BusinessLastly, Snapchat can create some privacy issues. Privacy settings will need to be set so that everyone can see the snaps but not everyone can send snaps back (see photo). It would be wise to turn off the ability for people to send snaps back or anyone will be able to send whatever picture they want back to the company.

Additionally, the content of the snaps being sent on behalf of the company needs to be well monitored. Since the posts disappear after sending and receiving, it would be hard to prove a snap was or was not sent. An employee could blast out confidential information to consumers but leave no proof behind that it was done. There are many things to consider and usage guidelines that should be in place before using Snapchat for your company.

Yes, Snapchat enables marketers to be innovative and can be useful if the company has a strong phone database. It could also be useful for smaller companies that have a close-knit, loyal database. It also can be a waste of time if the target audience is older and if the app isn’t used correctly. I like the idea of using Snapchat for business, but I believe that there are far more social media sites out there that could be more effective. I would love to hear your thoughts: Should marketers be using Snapchat for business?

Elizabeth Muckensturm – Digital Marketing Director at Sands Resorts

3 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Muckensturm says:

    Yes, I agree to an extent, Adam. Some businesses can be obtrusive in certain types of media. For example, Snapchat and Whatsapps, in my opinion, are more personal than other social media websites/apps. I personally do not accept requests from anyone other than people I know, which would make it hard to advertise to me. Anthony, I agree with you also. If social media content is not done correctly it will become obtrusive, but it can add value. I follow Taco Bell on all my social media sites and I enjoy what they post. I also follow some companies that just aren’t doing it well. It is very important to understand what social media websites will work for your company, and which ones will not intrude on customers.

  2. Adam Walker says:

    Businesses have essentially managed to ruin social media sites including YouTube and Facebook (and they’re working on Twitter).

    Whisper is going the same way and the issue is that once a business gets involved it’s no longer ‘fun’ so the buzz is gone. Forever.

    • Great point, Adam. I’d like to add a note though. I think it’s businesses that are using social media incorrectly that are ruining it, not the ones that have the right focus and strategy. Companies like Zappos, and the like, are doing a great job of engaging users, posting fun content and adding actual value to people’s lives. When companies approach social media as a platform to push promotional material only, that’s when it goes awry. But, when they genuinely seek to focus on providing an excellent experience for users, it can create a really great atmosphere and add value to the channel.

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