The Perfect Fit

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Snapchat, the social messaging app that has taken American teens by storm, has a strong base of 26 million users, the rapt attention of a young core audience, and is facilitating billions of shares per day. Yet, Snapchat is still a largely untapped territory for brands. 

Here are eight things you need to know to get caught up and determine if Snapchat is the right place for your brand’s messaging:

1. Its most popular feature is not its most famous feature. 

Snapchat made waves as a private messenger with disappearing content, but its public feature – Snapchat Stories – is actually more popular and used more frequently within the app. Snapchat Stories, a collection of videos and pictures that last 24 hours, are viewed more than one billion times per day. Snapchat Snaps, the traditional disappearing photos and videos sent to a smaller group of users, rounds out at about 760 million shares per day. 

2. Teenage girls love Snapchat.

The stats don’t lie – women make up 70 percent of Snapchat’s user base and the app is a hit with 13 to 25 year olds.

3. There are brands on Snapchat.

Taco Bell is a famous early adopter of the app and used it to give their fans exclusive sneak peeks at their returning Beefy Crunch Burrito. McDonald’s announced its arrival with a snap of LeBron James that offered a look at the filming of their latest commercial. Heineken used Snapchat to send photo clues that led followers to a lineup of secret shows at Heineken House during the Coachella festival. Frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles sent their customers coupons that need to be saved as a screenshot before they disappear. The fashion industry seems to be interested in the app, as well with accounts set up for retailers like American Eagle and Wetseal, and publisher Refinery29. 

4. Brands use Snapchat like they use email.

Snapchat’s setup of one-to-one messaging automatically creates a feeling of exclusivity for a brand and smart brands take full advantage. How does that translate into content? Brands offer behind-the-scenes looks, first looks at collections, new products and event perks. They’re also using it for recruiting. In early July, Irish bar Sober Lane made headlines when it announced it would only accept job applications for 20 open positions through Snapchat and received more than 2,000 applications (at the time of writing).

5. Your fans need to be able to find you.

Unless a brand has a solid, integrated messaging strategy and sizable community already established on other networks, gaining ground within Snapchat can be extremely difficult. Taco Bell, for example, utilized its massive community on Twitter and other social networks to drive followers to its Snapchat account. The odds of a fan discovering a brand on the social network on their own is nearly impossible. 

6. You need content or content maestros at your fingertips. 

Brands looking to share content that is shot, edited, retouched and finessed need to look elsewhere. Like Vine before it, the app is meant to generate visual content in real-time, posing a challenge for brands that require the safety net of planned and polished content. It will be interesting to see if Snapchat follows the path of Vine, Instagram and even YouTube, where brands are increasingly outsourcing content to talented and prolific users who have built substantial communities of their own. 

7. The app’s features aren’t intuitive, which may be a challenge for engaging older audiences.

Some of Snapchat’s less touted features include live chat and live video chatting, and adding large text and photo filters. The app’s most basic functionality is clear enough, but a glimpse into a few online guides on how to utilize the other features may send users scurrying. Like Twitter, which appears to be struggling to appeal to a wider audience and convey its usefulness, Snapchat may need to adapt if it wants to broaden its appeal beyond teens and young adults. 

8. Snapchat isn’t built with your business in mind – yet. 

There are virtually no business-oriented features on Snapchat. In-app metrics do not yet exist. Tracking the success of campaigns will need to be sourced outside of Snapchat and that means extra costs. However, CEO Evan Spiegel has referenced potential areas of revenue for the app, such as in-app purchasing and exploding coupons, which infers that the company is keeping brand interests in mind.

Although it certainly presents a few challenges when it comes to being adopted by brands, there is no denying that Snapchat has tapped into something special. The app has fended off acquisition from Facebook and seen the dawn of copycat apps spring up around it. Brands may not be flocking to the little ghost in droves just yet, but they should absolutely be paying attention to what happens next. 

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