Digital & Social Media

The FOMO Behind a Snap(chat) Decision


Taco Bell blazed the trail for brands on Snapchat last May, when it sent  “snaps” to announce the launch of its Beefy Crunch Burrito. While the response was positive enough to get the Mexican fast food chain to embrace Snapchat as one of its permanent social media, other brands have been less enthusiastic about signing on with the instant-messaging app used to send photos and videos that then disappear in 10 seconds.

That is starting to change as brands wake up to new more visual options to catch the fickle consumer’s attention. Bottom line: If you haven’t considered Snapchat yet and given how fast social trends evolve, now’s a good time to evaluate the possibilities and avoid getting left behind in the dust. When it comes to Snapchat, there should be at least a little FOMO (fear of missing out, for those who need a translation).

While Snapchat is definitely not right for every brand, the erstwhile “sexting” tool is becoming increasingly advertising friendly, and many more pioneering brands are experimenting with different approaches. The earliest followers tend to be brands that favor a young demographic—Snapchat is most popular on college campuses and among teens—and one that skews female: 70 percent of users are women, according to Snapchat’s CEO and founder Evan Spiegel.

Not surprisingly, Seventeen became the first major magazine to join the channel. Ann Shoket, its editor in chief, says the decision to go on Snapchat is an effort to “speak to girls whenever, wherever they are and to create a personal connection with them in real time.”  The teen fashion mag entices fans by arranging for such juicy events as boy band One Direction speaking via Snapchat to Seventeen readers. Another brand fan of Snapchat is MTV.

But not everyone using the app is so predictable. For instance, two brands you would never expect to see on Snapchat—National Public Radio and BusinessWeek—are both including Snapchat in their marketing plans. NPR is leveraging the service to share one “unforgettable” fact each day from its newsroom, in addition to sharing 10-second books and movie reviews. And BusinessWeek says it will start sending previews of covers to its followers. These two brands might be getting ahead of the curve as a recent survey showed adults starting to join the service in noteworthy numbers.

So how do you know if Snapchat is right for your brand or client? Here are four questions you should ask yourself before you snapchat:

  • Who is the target audience and are your customers on Snapchat already?   Don’t go on Snapchat just because Snapchat skews young and some of your customers are under 30 years old. Look for indications that your audience is on this platform already. For example, check other outlets—perhaps your own Facebook page or Twiter—to see if your customers are sharing screenshots off Snapchat. Sabrina Caluori, HBO’s VP of social media and marketing, said her decision to launch a Snapchat account for the HBO Series Girls, was  “inspired by fan behavior.”  She chose platforms based on where her audience already was, not with the idea she would lure them there.
  • Do you or your client like to experiment?   When you venture onto two-year-old Snapchat, you are a pioneer—for the time being anyway. There are no best practices yet as there are for other established platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You need to be comfortable with testing strategies in real-time and have everyone watch. Mashable and other trade media routinely cover campaigns on Snapchat. That can mean a very public flop or a stupendous success and everything in between. But when talking to a younger audience you should remember those users in particular enjoy and reward innovative brands on social media.
  • Do you or your client require heavy analytics to move forward?   One of Snapchat’s biggest downside is its lack of analytics. There are no “retweets” or “likes” to tally, for instance. More analytics tools are expected to emerge as the platform matures but for now if you want to be an adventurer you’re doing it without great numbers. The app also lacks many  “business friendly features.” It doesn’t make it easy to send custom responses to users or to have multiple phones tied to one account, just as two examples.

Snapchat probably isn’t for those who have to back up every decision with extensive analytics or who aren’t into a little experimentation. But a clever campaign on Snapchat may be a fast road to good buzz.