Just this week, Snapchat raised $200 million in funding. That, in and of itself, isn't that remarkable. What is impressive is that the funding it raised would place the value of the social media company at $20 billion. Why might a chat tool be so highly valued, and what are some ways you can start to use Snapchat in your marketing efforts?
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What We Can Learn From TV Advertising as It Relates to Snapchat
To understand the value, let's first look "old school"—as in, TV and, more specifically, TV advertising. Historically, the most sought-after demographic (at least in the US) was men ages 18-34. Shows that attracted this demographic were able to generate higher ad dollars than shows that might have higher viewership overall but with few men ages 18-34. As the US population changed (that is, gotten older, or as I like to say, more distinguished), and as media outlets and channels have fragmented, the value of other demographics has also changed. But the fact still remains that individuals ages 18-34 are still a key target market.
Snapchat is immensely popular among this demographic. Yes, it's popular among those who are younger as well, but those millennials are aging (like the rest of us) and entering this demographic. In fact, Nielsen reports that 2 in 5 individuals ages 18-34 view content on Snapchat every day. Snapchat reports that daily users spend, on average, close to 30 minutes in the app every day.
The TV Analogy Goes Beyond Demographics
Like TV, creative and interesting video content is key to success on Snapchat. Snapchat users view over 8 billion videos each day. Creating interesting video content is essential to gaining awareness through Snapchat.
Fortunately, your efforts to build up your video competencies (and your video library) will benefit you in more ways than just on Snapchat. As referenced in the SEO article a few weeks ago, Google is placing more value on video content in its search algorithms so, as you create more (quantity) and better (quality) video content and put that on your website, you can increase your search rankings, too.
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Advertising for Any Budget
One concern advertisers have had related to Snapchat in the past is perceived high entry cost. However, Snapchat has introduced features to make it easier for small advertisers to participate. Take Geofilters, for example. Snapchat lets users apply these templates to their photos. Companies can create these templates and make them available for a limited time to users in a limited geographic location. And customers do not need to actually use the filters, although obviously that's better in terms of your brand awareness. Users will see the filters as options even if they don't select them.
Like local targeting of Adwords' paid ads via Google (which make it possible for smaller, regional companies to do pay-per-click advertising on shoestring budgets), Geofilters similarly enable companies to start doing Snapchat advertising, even if they can't afford to carpet bomb the Snapchat universe. And, if your target market can be narrowed geographically, this could be a valuable thing to try.
But let's say you sell to anyone, anywhere. Geofilters could still be relevant. For example, let's say you sell a high-end, premium product, you can create Geofilter campaigns that are limited to ZIP codes that are known to have high per-capita household income. Or let's say your product or service is targeted at high school or college students, similarly, you could target geographic areas that include high schools or colleges.
Better yet, let's say you provide services to certain companies (or want to provide services to certain companies). Consider defining your geographic areas based on the headquarters of your clients and potential clients. Imagine, for example, that you have a product that is beneficial for doctors and other health-care providers. Consider creating Geofilter campaigns covering hospitals and the professional medical centers that invariably sit across the street from hospitals.
Let's Be Candid
Snapchat is, of course, a visual medium. We've already mentioned video. Now let's talk pictures. Some of you might be tempted to hire a photographer to capture some high-quality images to promote your brand and, while quality is never a bad thing, posting something too polished in a medium that is primarily unpolished could actually hurt you.
Consider instead going with candid pics taken by your employees. Not only will these pics "fit in" in Snapchat, but they can help your audience relate to your employees. Remember, your company is a collection of employees, among other things. Why not let prospects get to know and relate to your employees? "Behind the scenes"-type pictures of a new product being developed, of employees working together on a tough challenge, or of a light-hearted moment, can go a long way toward helping others relate to you.
Of course, there is one risk against which you have to guard: If your employees are taking pics that will be associated with your company and its products, they need to use discretion. Not only do they need to focus on images that are consistent with your company and its values, but they also need to be made aware of laws related to privacy, permissions, and the like.
Being Candid Part 2
Want to go a step beyond candid pics with your employees? Consider asking your employees who are parents of teenagers if some of those teenagers might be interested in "running" your company's Snapchat account for a few days. Consider paying your new Snapchat ambassadors something (but hey, they're kids, so it's not going to cost THAT much). Naturally, be careful about who you select (you probably need to interview them, discuss some DOs and DON'Ts with them, get a feeling for how responsible they are from their parents, etc.). But you might be surprised at how well a teenager who is entrusted with some responsibility and a job they think is cool will rise to the challenge.
Some of you work for companies that have larger marketing budgets. If you are accustomed to thinking in terms of high five-figure and six-figure campaigns, consider Snapchat's Discover channels. Discover channels allow brands to tell creative stories and generate high levels of awareness. But beware, Discover channels aren't for the financial faint of heart. The sponsorship for these channels alone with run you in the high five figures or more, plus of course any creative development costs. But if you want awareness with millennials, and you have the budget to pay for it, consider using Discover channels.
Together, these and other tactics can help you leverage this immensely popular and growing medium. And the benefit of adopting a Snapchat strategy sooner rather than later is that millennials are still using it. Once the rest of us jump on board, the young crowd will start to migrate to something else—just as they started dropping off Facebook when Mom and Dad joined the community.