Nearly every six months, it’s as if another social media platform is praised as the social-media-marketing-messiah. It’s rapidly picked up by consumers, and must be added to your social media mix or you’ll lose out.

You’re probably familiar with Snapchat by now, and it’s starting to follow the same sort of trend. It’s been around for a while, has a bit of a reputation, and many e-retailers shy away from it. It’s foreign-looking. It’s hard to optimize and automate. It’s yet another chore to add to your social media mix.

But it could be time to give it a look.

How to Use

The general purpose of the app is identical to any social platform — it’s about sharing moments of one’s life with others. That said, Snapchat doesn’t quite fit the mold of other social channels, even mobile ones, because of its unique features and raw, mobile focus.

Social media is a young person’s game, especially when it comes to Snapchat, as we’ll cover later (it’s user base skews a certain way). But it’s never too late to learn. If you’re unfamiliar with the app’s basic functions, here’s a rundown:

Snap — The essence of Snapchat, these are images or clips of up to 10 seconds that can be sent to any friend of choice. What makes Snapchat unique is that these messages self-destruct after a certain period of time that the user sets before sending them.

Story — Like on Facebook or Twitter, a Snapchat Story is a feed of snaps. When you decide to take a snap, you have an option to add it to your story for all of your friends / followers to see. Stories eventually disappear, but they linger on your feed for 24 hours before expiring.

Personalization –  What makes Snapchat a little more enjoyable than your standard social platform is the power to personalize the images or videos you’re creating. Once you take a picture (or, if we want to use proper terminology, a snap) and set the expiration time, you can choose to bring some color to it as if it’s like Microsoft paint. You can doodle on the image and add filters or other effects.



If you want to truly earn your Snapchat degree instead of cheating with this blog post, check out this awesome Snapchat 101 guide by the Wall Street Journal.

Why It’s Appealing to Brands

For brands, Snapchat is a unique opportunity. It’s a young platform, and it offers a new experience that differs from its established competitors for the following reasons:

Mobile-focus – As many gurus have prophesied, mobile has become a major player in the world of ecommerce, driven largely by the fact that consumers are using their mobile devices now more than ever. We could pull out 1,000 statistics backing that up, but most businesses seem to get it by now.

Snapchat is an exclusively mobile channel. With an ever-growing amount of consumers pulling out their mobile devices to research, purchase, and engage, its share in the social media space is only going to follow suit, and that’s something all brands must pay attention to.

Quick, visual content – The time limit on snaps and stories reflects growing consumer demand for bite-sized bursts of visual content — whether it’s an image or a video — as opposed to the endless trail of words you’re skimming through here.  Consumers are increasingly consuming content that’s concise and visual, and Snapchat content fits that mold perfectly.

Just look at the facts:

  • The average attention span of 2015 was 8.25 (nearly hitting Snapchat’s expiration limit) according to Statistic Brain.
  • Colored, visual content itself is enough to increase a viewer’s attention span and remembrance by 82% according to research by Xerox — perfect for brand awareness.
  • According to the CMO Council, 65% of senior marketing executives feel that visual content like images, videos, or infographics are essential to communicate a brand’s story (Snapchat… story).
  • Video content is 1.81x more like to trigger a viewer to purchase than a non-viewer according to Invodo.

Exclusivity – One of Snapchat’s fundamentals, the self-destructive tendency of its messages, puts a powerful driver of sales in the e-retailer’s hands: exclusivity. Like they do on other social media channels, merchants can implement flash sales, for instance, where a 24-hour promotion is announced specifically on the brand’s Snapchat Story, providing a discount code for followers that check out the post.

In other words, the app is an opportunity to reward consumers who are in-the-moment and engaged — the very people you want to be targeting.

Authenticity – Snapchat isn’t like Twitter or Facebook where you like or retweet something. There’s no “50 retweets and we’ll debut a new product,” followed by 50 consumer responses about how the brand is selling out. You just follow the brand you want, checking out any content that they snap.

Compared to other businesses, there’s a complete lack of exposure to others. You don’t get to see the brand’s follower count, random comments, or any number of buttons, like likes or shares. It’s just you and the brand on your mobile device. To some of those brands, especially smaller ones that foster what customer engagement they have, this is valuable, as it shuts out the other noise readily available on social media.

The User’s Life Experience

If your target demographic doesn’t range between young teenager and young adult, you may as well turn back now. That’s the base of Snapchat and it’s showing no signs of a slowdown or a change up in target user.

When you pick out which social platforms to sink time and money into, it’s usually a solid idea to get a good look at the age of its active user base. Like Instagram — another rising star around the social media world that shares a similar mobile and visual focus — Snapchat is dominated by young adults and is widely considered to be an alternative to huge, diverse, broadcasted platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Here’s a look at the age makeup of its users, and a forecast of how it’s expected to change over time:



As you can see, it’s dominated by youngsters. But, in the words of Aaliyah, age ain’t nothing but a number… unless that number is daily active users.

The app’s very nature that we covered earlier — its mobile focus, exclusivity, in-the-moment-ness, and bite-sized content — makes it a magnet for engagement. It isn’t about slogging through a social feed, reading up on that one high school friend’s tailored, political rants, or spiritually healing a stranger by “liking” a picture a friend shared. It’s about quickly browsing through images or clips that are real-time and deliberately sent to you or made available for all to see via a Snapchat Story.

That’s why more than 150 million daily users currently open the app on a daily basis, which beats out Twitter’s own 136 million. Not to mention it’s been around for less than half the time — it was launched in 2011, while Twitter left the nest in 2006. The presidential candidates are using it too, so you know it’s at least somewhat legit.

What Are Your Peers Doing

It’s still early in the process of engaging, but how are actively-snapchatting brands behaving? Based on L2 Research’s own Snapchat survey, 70% of the 120 brands surveyed are using the platform. And here are the types of content they’re putting out:



Product – It makes sense that product reigns supreme; it’s at the core of your brand, after all. Featuring your product in all of its visual glory keeps your brand in the customer’s brain and their daily life.

Plus, there’s an opportunity to give customers a sneak peak into new products, whether it’s a fresh-off-the-press shirt design or a new line of iPhone cases, that’s sure to build interest.

Lifestyle –  A brand always has a lifestyle reflective of its product and customer base. You see it in apparel, home furnishing, even tractor equipment. A clip of your product in action, in the lifestyle of your brand, once again reinforces your business into the customer’s daily life, potentially even mimicking their own lifestyle.

Think of a preppy apparel brand posting an 8 second clip of someone wearing its preppy clothing and walking through the downtown of New York City — that type of stuff.

Event – Let’s say you sell gymnastics equipment and gear, and you plan to go to the Rio Olympics this summer. Recording snippets of the event not only gives your followers a glimpse into an event they’re definitely interested in, it also connects your brand to perhaps the biggest event in gymnastics, potentially raising your profile.

Inside Access – Remember, Snapchat is a social platform where users check out snaps and stories of their friends’ lives; be a friend and show them your own. A little behind-the-scenes action builds exclusivity and closeness between you and your following.

Video Is On-Demand

As we touched on earlier, consumers, especially younger ones, are beginning to demand more and more visual, video content — and e-retailers are beginning to respond. It’s no shocker why, considering the stats out there. We’ll let this infographic by Hyperfine Media do the talking:


Video is where Snapchat shines, and it’s a major factor in the platform’s dominance as a social, mobile, and video platform. It’s like like a social network combined with YouTube, a smartphone camera, and Microsoft Paint.

Compared to other social channels, most notably Instagram (Snapchat’s most dominant competitor), Snapchat is cornering the market on mobile video content:



It may seem attractive, sure, but video content is far more expensive and time consuming than setting up an image and some text (which is just as possible on Snapchat). In fact, it’s easy to point out all of the positives to Snapchat and say, “why aren’t brands gunning for this?”

On the Other Hand

The answer is simple: Snapchat is a relatively young platform, only really has a young audience, and isn’t quite old enough to have the robust advertising and analytical capabilities that long-established social platforms possess.

L2’s finding — that 70% of its marketer-respondents are on the channel — stands in complete contrast to Social Media Examiner’s survey of 5,000+ marketers, many of whom are nowhere near the platform. When asked which social platforms were going to receive some TLC in the coming year, Snapchat was listed at the end of the line. A quick glance at the chart is enough to show the dominance of diverse, been-around-a-while social channels:



Don’t be completely seduced by Snapchat’s amazing numbers. They’re certainly going nowhere but up for the time being, but impressive, fast-growing statistics doesn’t translate into impressive, fast-growing ROI. That ball is in your court.

If you take anything from this post, let it be that teenagers and young adults are flocking to this social channel in droves. If that’s the makeup of your customer base, Snapchat should at least be on the table when you develop your social strategy.

At the end of the day, the content you post — whether it’s an amped up snap of a new product, an unboxing or brand lifestyle clip, or a flash sale that expires in 24 hours — will determine your success on the channel. Just be sure to test, test, test, ensuring that this channel, of all the tens of channels out there, is worth your time and money.