You probably fall into one of two camps. You might believe Snapchat is a fad, silly memes and lusty Lotharios looking to send a few risqu? photos to their special someone. (You are wrong, by the way.) Or you believe it to be the second most powerful social media platform in the U.S. behind only Facebook. Ding, ding! You're right!
Launched in 2011, Snapchat has experienced unparalleled growth in just five years, reaching milestones faster than, well, everybody. Just how important is Snapchat to marketing in 2016? Very. Take a look at these stats:
60 percent of users are between 13-24, and 63 percent of its audience is between 18-34. Snapchat claims to reach 41 percent of that population on any given day.
Americans who use Snapchat grew from 17 percent to 23 percent between 2015 and 2016.
Snapchat Ads get anywhere from 500,000 to one million views per day.
Its numbers are huge -- 150 million active daily users, 18 percent of all American social media users, 9000 snaps each second, 10 billion daily video views (greater than Facebook's 8 billion), 73 percent of users are millennials, 76 percent have purchased products online, and 28 percent of U.S. teenagers consider it their most important platform.
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A young, captive, tech-savvy and active community of users -- that's where you need to be. But jumping in can be a little scary if you're not sure how to use it to its full potential. Need some inspiration and guidance? In my opinion, these eight businesses are getting it done on Snapchat:
General Electric (@generalelectric) has tapped into Snapchat's young user base to promote its products, and more importantly, an interest in science.
They answer user-submitted questions, and send out fun tidbits featuring the likes of Bill Nye the Science Guy. They've introduced Buzz Aldrin to a new generation, and titillate with brainteasers, puzzles, fun facts and info on GE machines.
They featured a holiday geofilter this past Christmas for users in 50 US airports and 25 train stations to highlight how much of the travel industry runs on GE.
"The disappearing nature of its content encourages repeat usage and provides us with a unique way to celebrate invention with an expanding community of young fans," says GE's Sam Olstein.
Food delivery service GrubHub (@grubhub) knows how to get the most out of Snapchat. Much of its content requires a response, like coupons, promos, giveaways and contests like the wildly successful SnapHunt.
In 2014, GrubHub responded to virtually every message they received, getting the year's highest Snapchat score of 53,668 in the process, and increasing overall user engagement. Heck, they even found an intern via the platform, and have utilized influencer Michael Platco -- the Van Gogh of Snapchat -- to create its content.
Eretailer Everlane (@Everlane) has made Snapchat their primary engagement channel. They offer behind-the-scenes, sneak peeks, user-generated content and a tremendous kick of one-to-one communication. Social media manager Red Gaskell opens all messages and responds personally to most.
The popular Transparency Tuesday, a Q&A when users can ask them anything, supports their motto of "Radical Transparency." Their profile includes factory visits and full disclosure on their manufacturing and pricing practices.
And that resonates with their client base.
Gaskell sees the communication potential. "We're trying to find little bits of what's going on here daily at headquarters to share with our consumers," he said. "I think it's a rare opportunity for them to see how a brand is being built day in and day out."
Not to be outdone by a fellow purveyor of fast food -- McDonald's is on the platform, too --Taco Bell (@tacobell) famously shot and released a six minute mini-movie, via Snapchat Story, to launch its new Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos, including scenes on the MTV Movie Awards red carpet. Could it understand its audience any better? No. No, it could not.
It's always-fun content typically includes artwork, text overlay, and internet celebs.
The Irish airline (@aerlingus) was the first to migrate to Snapchat. Aer Lingus content includes trips into the cockpit, pictures and videos from onboard or out the window, stories and live events such as inaugural flights. Others have joined in the interim, but few do it better. Call it the luck (i.e. hard work) of the Irish.
"Our favorite way to use Snapchat is in a live setting, building a story as events are unfolding," says head of social media, Paul Buckley. "The ability to build a story brings the user with us on a journey that has a start, middle and end."
Exclusive content is key to Snapchat success, and Amazon (@amazon) has made that a cornerstone of its efforts. Promos appear in its feed -- called Snap Deals -- but last mere seconds. Users need only click to instantly put the product in their Amazon cart. Beyond that, Amazon includes gift ideas and recommendations, and they recently used Vine star David Lopez to promote the Echo during Super Bowl weekend.
Sour Patch Kids.
Loved by kids, teens and adults alike, their Snapchat account (@sourpatchsnaps) is very effective at spreading brand awareness. When launching their channel, marketers aimed to make the brand mascot -- the lifesize Blue Kid -- internet famous. And with the assistance of social influencer Logan Paul, they've done that. The two committed sweet and sour pranks all over NYC.
The channel is heavy with pranks, contests, hijinks, and The Kid showing exactly how awesome life is when you're both sweet and sour. Mission accomplished.
MTV (@MTV) is a major player on Snapchat. It's a marriage made in marketing heaven. They have their own channel in the popular Discover feature (which can generate up to 3 million readers per day), they've announced the nominations for the MTV Video Awards exclusively on the platform, and they provide a daily dose of celeb interviews, BTS, backstage access and industry news. It's like catnip for kids, tweens, and teens.