Snapchat is teaching developers and marketers about appealing to younger demographics through the psychological triggers and advertising opportunities available through the app. The relatively quick growth of the mobile application has baffled marketers who (until recent months) have been struggling to monetize the platform. Snapchat Discover and the inclusion of filters & lenses has opened the application to branded content, and with it created a flood of revenue that is only predicted to increase.
Snapchat has found its niche at the meeting point of image-based sharing and direct messaging. In relation to its social competitors, Snapchat is the successful combination of image-based social network Instagram (owned by Facebook inc.) and Facebook’s messenger app. In fact, Facebook attempted to acquire the app in late 2013 for $3 billion, an offer that was promptly turned down.
Snapchat has overcome its initial perception as an obscure teenage-focused mobile network since it’s launch in September 2011. That being said Snapchat still consists of a very young user base, with 86% of the app’s users under the age of 35 years old.
U.S. Snapchat users as of February 2016
The trendy app boasts an incredibly active user base over 100 million daily active users, however, the total number of users may be 200 million or beyond. By comparison, Facebook claims to reach 1.59 billion users, Instagram 400 million users, Twitter 320 million users, and LinkedIn 100 million users. Snapchat is now beginning to rival major social networks, which is a particularly impressive position considering the app is available exclusively to mobile users.
Snapchat has been growing so quickly that there is talk the company is preparing for a public-market debut. This is despite already raising large sums of money already from private investors. A telling sign of this was the subtle addition of Stan Meresman, a seasoned IPO specialist, to Snapchat’s board.
Psychology of Snapchat
When studying the apps overall rate of engagement, consider the 25-30 minute average duration each user spends on the app every day. The fact that content disappears after 24 hours incites many users to return to the app many times a day as to avoid socially sparked F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out). This sense of urgency is a very effective way to boost engagement and is considered a relevant factor for 35% of Snapchat users. This return rate develops into the habitual use seen in many successful social networks.
Live and Local
Snapchat finds success (and simultaneous reliance) within the power of the mobile content creator. The app is able to cover live events by acting as a curator of content that users submit in real time. Global stories are converting users into publishers in a new, intimate form of live coverage.
The power of user-generated content can be applied on a large scale to cover music festivals such as Coachella, as well as hyper-local stories. This local approach may be focused on a day in the life of a single city, campus, or community. Localized content keeps users interested in the platform long enough until they decide to publish their own content.
Prior to Snapchat’s official advertising opportunities, marketers made use of influencer marketing to connect with the app’s younger user-base. Influencer marketing is by no means a new breakthrough as it is the social adaptation of the celebrity endorsements that we have seen for many years.
The distinction between these is celebrity endorsements are often well-funded, large-scale productions in which a notable celebrity appears in your advertisements, becoming the “face” of your brand. Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is a more subtle approach, toeing the line of product placement. Because Snapchat offers an intimate look into the lives of its users, influencers can subtly endorse products to their followers. DJ Khaled may display one of the best examples of influencer marketing, having endorsed a variety of products from alcohol, to footwear, to guacamole.
Influencer marketing was the most viable way for brands to use Snapchat until the inclusion of Discover. This is a series of continuously updated, 24-hour branded stories hosted on its own page of the Snapchat application. This allows brands to directly host content (and promotions) available to all Snapchat users.
Branded Geofilters & Lenses
Perhaps the single most profitable aspect of Snapchat has been the addition of filters and lenses. Artists and designers are encouraged to create free Community Geofilters for their city, university, a local landmark, or another public location. The caveat is no brand logos are allowed. Brand logos and trademarks are permitted for businesses and individuals alike to purchase On-Demand Geofilters for their event, business, or a specific location. These can be uploaded for as little as $5, which is appropriate for an in-store event or party hosted for 8 hours. This is the bare minimum, check out how much a Snapchat Geofilter costs at the Oscars and 5 other big events.
Snapchat’s real money has been found within branded lenses. These are the video application of filters forcing consumer engagement to be instantly shared to their personal network. Alongside the recent release of X-Men Apolocypse came a slew of mutant-related lenses transforming the user into their favorite character. Unfortunately, these lenses are only available to million or billion dollar companies, not out of elitism, but due to a price point completely unattainable to the majority of business owners. A full-scale branded weekday lens can cost upwards of $500,000, which pales in comparison to the holiday cost estimated at $750,000. Keep in mind these exorbitant rates only cover a 24 hour period as everything, branded or otherwise, is wiped clean at the end of each day.
Imitation or Adaptation?
Snapchat was introduced to teenagers with a single function, to send images that would disappear in a matter of seconds. The app evolved to include 24-hour stories, and as it’s audience continues to expand, so does it’s functionality. It comes as no surprise that Snapchat aim’s to overtake Facebook’s Messenger application as our main method of communication. While it is too early to judge the potential of this rivalry, Snapchat is putting up a fair fight with the inclusion of:
– Instant photo sharing
– Live video chats
– Direct messaging
– Phone calling
– Snapcash (peer-to-peer payments powered by Square inc.)
I would like to thank Variety for the infographics displayed above; these figures are based on a survey conducted exclusively for Variety by Defy Media. Read further into the Snapchat Content Survey here. If you’re in need of social media help make sure to reach out to 1Digital Agency for everything from strategy to management.
- Dan Kogan
- June 30, 2016