Online marketing and social media tips for business from Shannon Belew, best-selling author of "Starting an Online Business For Dummies, All-in-One"
Since making its debut in late 2011, Snapchat has already landed in the top 5 free apps in the Apple app store. What’s the appeal? The app allows users to take pictures of themselves, send it to friends, and have the picture disappear (forever) in a matter of seconds. Once you send a Snapchat pic via your phone, the receiver has mere seconds – up to 10 max – to view the image before it self-destructs.
The iPhone app, which recently released a version for Android, has taken the world by storm, particularly popular for teens and on college campuses. Co-founders, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel, barely 20-somethings themselves, met while attending Stanford and created the app as a way to “share awkward selfies and funny photos with our friends,” according to their blog. Noting that mobile photo sharing wasn’t exactly a “lucrative” market, yet, they saw the app as answering a need in the market for those who loved sharing photos via social media, but didn’t want “awkward or questionable” photos of themselves forever archived on the Internet for parents and future employers to see.
Because the shared photos don’t stick around, the app has been criticized for enabling sexting (sending revealing photos via text), especially with teens. It’s worth noting that if the receiver is quick enough, a screenshot of the Snapchat picture can easily be captured. However, the sender is notified when this happens. Additionally, the sender can save a copy of the photo, and even give it a caption, while in the preview screen. So, it is possible for these photos to have life beyond the 10-seconds rule.
Regardless of how long the pictures really stay around, supporters of the app say it’s a fun way to communicate with friends. And, they insist that the majority of pictures snapped are fun, harmless items – like someone making a funny face.
Either way, there are a lot of pictures being snapped! Snapchat posted a bit of an apology on their blog, recently. Apparently, Thanksgiving was a huge day for Snapchatters who bombarded the company’s servers, sending over 1,000 Snapchats per second of turkeys, table settings and more. That’s not really surprising. Consider that by the end of October, just after the company’s one-year anniversary, the Snapchat community boasted more than 20 million “unique moments” per day, for a total of more than one billion snaps.
Two questions remain. Is there a business (revenue) model for this type of app? And, is there a way for other businesses to capture the Snapchat enthusiasm and use it in their own online marketing or mobile marketing efforts?
The first question is harder to answer. Short of profiting from the sale of the company to someone like Facebook, it’s hard to know where a real revenue base could come from for this free app. That said, Spiegel was quoted in a TechCrunch article, saying they were discussing possible revenue models for the company.
As for our existing businesses could use Snapchat in their online marketing? The best opportunity is probably for B2C companies with a young target audience, probably in the 12-21 year-olds range. Given that you can save your own Snapchat pics and caption them or draw on them, it would make for a fun mobile marketing type of contest. Those already addicted to Snapchat might enjoy sending in their saved pics of themselves with your product (for example), which in turn could be posted to a Pinterest page for said business. This isn’t really an original idea. Snapchat held a similar contest for its community of users, earlier this year. But, the idea definitely has merit for other businesses reaching out to this same audience.
Have you used Snapchat? Leave a comment and let us know what you think of the app.