Snapchat looks like it could be getting serious about monetising its core Millennial and beyond demographic with a series of rumoured moves that would see it adopt some of the strategies that have served Facebook so well.
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The social platform with the ghost avatar has been around since 2011 but most social media analysts have considered it a peripheral player up until now, especially in regard to its ability to leverage its young user base. As with so many social media platforms that aren’t Facebook, the magic trick of monetising users into revenue has proved harder than catching a ghost up until now for Snapchat.
“Snapchat has several plans in place to build its ad business in ways that would emulate Facebook’s. According to several people with knowledge of the company’s plans, those include improved ad targeting based on what content people are checking out in Snapchat’s Discover publisher portal, as well as the sites they’re browsing and searches they’re conducting outside of Snapchat.The company is also pursuing the ability for brands to fact-check whether their ads were seen. And it has pending hires of sales and measurement bosses.”
Twitter has been in a similar bind when it comes to effective monetisation of its model but for a longer time than Snapchat. But while Twitter has become not only a news platform but also a soapbox and megaphone for every cause under the sun, Snapchat has two distinct things going for it that might see it yet emerge as a powerful platform with ample attraction for brands and marketers: its users are young and it’s a fun platform. That’s a powerful combination if Snapchat can get it right.
In a cute piece of inverse irony, the headline on Time explains where Snapchat’s power lies courtesy of a chart from BI Intelligence: “This chart explains why you’re not on Snapchat”
— BI Intelligence (@BIIntelligence) April 4, 2014
That’s a demographic which is readily receptive to marketers in a way that something like Twitter is not. The in-built cynicism of Twitter is just not part of the Snapchat make-up.
Another thing going for Snapchat is that Facebook is increasingly being viewed as the general, all-purpose social platform – it’s where everyone including granny hangs out. Snapchat is in the same space as Instagram in moving in for the next wave of social media users who are looking for something closer to their generational experience.
This generational shift has not escaped the attention of analysts. Writing for the Huffington Post, Gary Vaynerchuk says Snapchat has made real progress in the past six months in going from a novelty app that allowed you to send vanishing photos (truly fleeting and ephemeral moments) to a media platform that allows users to create compelling narratives through its Stories feature.
Vaynerchuk is sold on Snapchat’s potential to tap the Millennial market and he sees the platform as the place for business to be in 2016: “And the one simple takeaway is this: if you’re running a business in 2016, you need to be thinking about Snapchat as a channel to grow your customer base. Period.”
He points to the engagement levels of Snapchat users rather than simple time spent on site and raw reach figures as being key factors to why Snapchat is on the edge of a tipping point.
But as an Australian SME, do you really need to be throwing your resources into this platform? Well, that all depends on where you’re at and who you’re targeting.
If your company is still struggling to come to grips with the dominant platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter then diving headlong into Snapchat may just be a distraction you don’t need. This is even more the case if your core demographic is unlikely to be on Snapchat – you don’t need to fish in a pond that doesn’t have the kind of fish you want.
However, if your company has a solid social media strategy and already has its house in order across its engaged platforms then Snapchat is worth investigating. Again, this is even more the case if your core demographic, or at least a significant segment of your target market, falls into the category of Millennials and younger with a strong skew towards females.
Fi Bendall is CEO of The Bendalls Group, a business that leads STRATEGY : ADVOCACY : MOBILE delivering the business acumen to drive effective positive results in a disruptive economy for the C-suite. Fi has recently won a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence award. See more at: http://www.bendalls.com.au/