Snapchat: how it works and how to use it to promote your business
Snapchat is an instant messaging app that allows users to share photos and short videos with others in a private chat or on their personal profile. What makes it unique is that, unlike other social media platforms, the majority of the content disappears as soon as it has been viewed. The platform has 750 million active daily users worldwide, making it the tenth most popular social network on the planet. According to data published by Statista, its audience is mostly teenagers and under 24s, with the app reaching 75% of the population aged between 13 and 24 in many countries.
The user growth rate provides another interesting statistic: according to eMarketer’s predictions, it is set to overtake TikTok during 2023, which would make Snapchat the fastest growing platform in the world.
Snapchat’s main functions
The platform is based on exchanging snaps – photos and short videos that are automatically deleted once they’ve been viewed, or stored for a maximum of 24 hours. The content can be shared through private chats or Snap Stories, collections of photos and clips that can be viewed by all of a user’s contacts. The Spotlight section contains the most popular snaps, Lenses – which we’ll discuss in the next paragraph – and the topics that are trending on the platform.
Photos and videos (lasting a maximum of 60 seconds) can be customised using Lenses, an augmented reality tool that adds fun 3D effects, objects and characters to photos or clips. Alternatively, users can apply Filters to an image or video to add a frame or various colour effects or provide information on wherever they are at that particular moment.
Users can use the Snap Map to check the geographical location of their contacts and access the content they publish. Inside the Map, by clicking on Places or a particular location they can find nearby points of interest, see the places their friends have visited or the most popular among the community and share their favourite spots.
A recent introduction is My AI, a personal AI chatbot based on the Chat GPT language model that enables users to talk to a virtual friend, involve them in a chat with real friends, and receive answers and personal advice on various topics, for example what to give their partner for their birthday or how to plan a sightseeing tour.
What are the benefits of marketing on Snapchat?
Snapchat definitely has a narrower audience than other social media platforms – although it is worth remembering it has more active users than Twitter and Pinterest – so you need to think carefully about whether it is worth investing your time and budget in it. However, if you are looking to reach a very young client base, this app could provide you with some useful tools to generate content suitable for Gen Z.
Let’s have a look at the main benefits Snapchat offers:
- Less competition – While the majority of brands focus their efforts on the most popular social media (predominantly Facebook and Instagram), you can create a presence on Snapchat without having to deal with millions of competitors.
- Better engagement – According to the platform’s own statistics, Snapchat’s users are very active, opening the app on average 40 times a day during the last quarter of 2022.
- Purchasing guide – According to research into American users conducted by Snap Inc., close friends on the platform have four times more influence on users’ purchasing habits than celebrities and influencers. In addition, Snapchat’s audience is the most likely of all social networks to publish photos and videos relating to the products and services they’re purchasing and to share their shopping experiences.
Which types of business can invest in Snapchat?
Now let’s have a look at some examples of businesses that can use this app to find new customers and strengthen their brand image:
When users publish geolocalised snaps and share their favourite places, they enhance the visibility of the businesses they’ve visited and the events they’ve attended (exhibitions, product launches, courses, etc.) Restaurants, bars, shops and cultural and entertainment spaces can therefore improve their online presence and attract a younger clientele by publishing spontaneous and entertaining content on the app.
Snapchat has already attracted many global fashion brands including Prada, Dior, Gucci and Valentino, drawn to its user base comprising 55% women and the augmented reality technologies available in its Lenses tool. Emerging or niche fashion and luxury brands can follow suit, offering virtual try-on experiences and creating immersive, engaging and fun storytelling, to attract a younger audience and rejuvenate their brand image.
Like fashion, the beauty sector can take advantage of augmented reality (AR) to offer clients interactive purchasing experiences and so increase revenue. For example, firms can create custom Lenses and turn trying out cosmetics into a virtual experience, or use prize draws to increase engagement.
To celebrate the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the fashion magazine Vogue chose Snapchat to present an interactive augmented reality exhibition, Vogue x Snapchat: Redefining the Body. In every room of the Centre d’art La Malmaison, visitors could admire archive and contemporary models from the fashion brands involved and interact with their physical creations via the customised Lenses created for the event. This shows how digital technologies can make fashion accessible to everyone and foster creativity and individual freedom of expression.
Another successful example comes courtesy of the multinational Coty, which owns various beauty product brands, including Bourjois, MaxFactor and Rimmel. Due to the post-Covid restrictions on mask-wearing, the company decided to ensure its customers could test out cosmetics in complete safety by using virtual make-up testing. Using 17 Lenses on Snapchat, customers could ‘try out’ mascara, lipstick and foundation on the app simply by scanning the code on the product’s packaging. The initiative generated a 62% conversion rate, and 18% of all sales ended up coming from users who had tested products using the Lenses.
Our final story involves the motivational app PepTalk, which launched an advertising campaign on Spotlight to increase its members from Gen Z. To strengthen its public profile and generate viral content, the business decided to publish an average of five videos a week featuring interviews with celebrities on profound and unconventional topics. Music and sound effects were used to make the clips even more intense and dramatic. The videos achieved 10 million organic views in around two months and over the same period the number of people following the brand’s public Snapchat profile increased by 3.4 times. The business’ strategy proved a rapid way to increase its visibility among the younger generations, without having to invest in ads.