Snapchat in its current form is great for the selfie-loving, social media savvy crowd with the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ photo and video messaging app allowing users to challenge the limits of socially acceptable facial expressions and do away with Instagram’s need to make everything look like your phone is packing a DLSR lens on the back of it. With just over 80 million active users (as of of May 2014) Snapchat has about a third of Instagram’s userbase and while Instagram has a wide appeal, Snapchat’s users are predominantly (70%) female, with the majority falling between the 13 and 25 age groups. So with Snapchat’s demo allowing for such targeted marketing, the app is ripe for promotion potential which is perhaps why the company behind the service is now using ‘filters’ to turn it into a marketer’s paradise.
Don’t expect these new filters to become an annoyance like some other emerging ad opportunities though (promoted tweets on Twitter have caught their fair deal of flack) as the filters are entirely optional. While plenty fall into the cosmetic category – by changing the colour, making the image black and white or affecting the brightness – others are more playful such as location specific filters that provide illustrated text whether you’re in Manhattan, Brooklyn or even your local McDonalds.
It’s by taking a leaf out of McDonalds’ book that many believe Snapchat’s use as a branding powerhouse will really take off. Smart marketers are already running around taking disappearing video or photo based snaps (viewed 760 million times a day) or adding media into a story list (Snapchat Stories compiled designated media into one big, consumable chunk and are viewed 1 billion times a day) to show off their wares, from new clothes in a line to delicious new items on a menu. That should continue because unlike the obtrusive nature of things like the aforementioned promoted tweets, or even giant billboards, Snapchat’s 10 second limit means that those who don’t want to take in what you’re promoting don’t have to. After 10 seconds anyway.
This, in addition to McDonalds’ use of stylised logo filters are, to put it loosely, where the money is. Promoting the products in the first place gets Snapchatters through the door while enlisting branded filters (you could perhaps work on relevant, illustrated images if your logo isn’t yet recognisable) gets them to stay and with a demographic as influential as 13-25 year old women you’ll only see their friends, families and peers follow them too which is why despite seeming less buttoned up and professional than Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, Snapchat needs to be taken seriously. God knows you’ll reap the rewards of this growing social media gem if you do.