As marketers, we're always in search for new and innovative ways to get our brand message out in front of our target audience.
Snapchat has been the obsession among social media marketers for the past few years - and for good reason. It's functionality, ease of use and easy to digest content presentation has helped the app establish a significant user base, users who now send more than 3 billion Snaps daily.
Given this growth, Snapchat's obviously a great medium for marketing right? Well, that depends on a few different factors.
If you have the luxury of only being responsible for branding, then Snapchat might be a good addition. However, if you (like most people) have to justify your work through tangible business value, Snapchat might not be the best place to focus your time.
Here are 4 reasons why you should be careful with Snapchat, from a marketing perspective.
1. "Successful" Accounts Already Have Brand Equity
Lets set something straight - We are all marketing on social media to make money.
There are many "thought leaders" that will urge you to become a mystical storyteller, chock-full of human emotions that can entrance anyone with their content. This is crap. You need to look at your overall strategy, find out what your goals are and execute tactics against those goals that will impact your bottom line.
Most of the brands that are "doing it right" on Snapchat already have such huge brand equity that it would be impossible for them to not do well. DJ Khaled, for example, already has a huge fan base, Gatorade has been around for forever and Gucci is one of the most iconic brands in the world. You're being extremely foolish if you think your business can operate like they do on Snapchat and see business value.
Don't be fooled by people preaching all theory and no practice - if you really want to add Snapchat to your brand bundle, do so knowing that you won't have anywhere near the visibility or success that these brands have.
2. Impactful Advertising is Expensive
Snapchat users, which obviously skew younger, are digitally savvy, with some 76% of them being active online shoppers. However, exponentially reaching more of these users in a targeted way can be very expensive on Snapchat.
While Snapchat has just recently opened up their self-serve ad platform, previous Snapchat campaigns have quickly run into the tens of thousands at just a basic level. If you are hoping to run an ad in Snapchat's Discover section, for example, you're looking at a minimum spend of $40,000. Want to run a Sponsored Lens Campaign? Be ready to cough up at least $450,000.
As noted, Snapchat is now providing more affordable options - there are self-service Geofilters, for example, that can be yours for as little as $5 per day, however, users need to be made aware of them and actively go use them for there to be any kind of value.
And even if you have the budget to advertise on Snapchat, you should also be aware that 80% of 18-24-year-olds on the platform skip ads "always" or "often". Additionally, 73% of users said they never interact with Snapchat Ads by swiping up to access more content.
If you have the budget to use on impressions, fantastic. However, I would recommend investing in a platform that can connect the dots between impression, click and conversion. Snapchat is improving on this front, but they do still have a way to go.
3. Competition for Attention
The blessing and the curse of being a super popular social platform is the immense amount of clutter that is created by users - the more people users follow, the more competition there is to get their attention. Facebook has dealt with this by implementing highly sophisticated algorithms which highlight individually relevant content based on engagement, however, with Snapchat you're stuck with who you choose to follow, which can pose a challenge in gaining reach.
Speaking of followings, did you know that 61% of users don't follow any news organizations, 50% don't follow sports publishers (like ESPN) and 57% don't follow popular entertainment brands like E! or Daily Mail. If these historically popular brands are having trouble building communities on Snapchat, how do you think your small to mid-sized business will perform?
Snapchat has so much going on all the time that users tend to focus in on other users that they know. The silver lining here is that a recent study showed that 69% of college students would be more receptive to opening a Snap from a brand opposed to an individual they don't know. There is some hope there, however you better have exquisite content, which you promote heavily on other social channels, if you're going to get into the Snapchat bubble.
4. Lack of Analytics
This is my biggest pet peeve with Snapchat - we get no actionable data that we can use to refine and improve business results.
Sure, you can get impression data, completion rates and even see the number of screenshots - however, if you were to plop that information in front of your CMO or client, would they give a damn? Probably not.
Snapchat's a great branding tool, however the reality of the world of marketing is that we must constantly prove our value, and Snapchat, as yet, hasn't provided much help in the same way that other social platforms have, from an analytics point of view. Again, their new self-serve ad platform includes a data dashboard, and Snapchat is working to improve this element, but it is worth considering in your process.
Don't get me wrong. Snapchat is a great branding tool that can fit into the marketing mix for certain brands, however, the other 90% of brands out there trying to build and make a living could do more harm than good by treating Snapchat like the savior of social engagement.
If your organization is comfortable with measuring impressions, and are going a pure brand exposure, definitely consider Snapchat. However, if you need to prove to a stakeholder that you are driving website visits, conversions, repeat customers or even assisted sales, then you should be take the time to ensure Snapchat's data options provide all the information you need before pushing ahead with an expansive strategy.
My best advice is to test Snapchat, but move forward with your goals, budgets and limitations in mind. For every breakout brand that goes out there and kills it on the new shiny toy, there are hundreds who lost a ton of business by using the wrong tactic.