Have been playing around with Snapchat recently. Not in a rude way, you understand.
Snapchat’s raison d’être is the selfie. I had thought this service was part of the inevitable progress of our narcism to onanistic levels. And yet, the fact that these messages are sent one-to-one, unlike the one-to-many services of FB and Twitter, means that actually this is a less showy, more genuine interaction. You’re not putting out a ‘personal brand image’ to 300+ people. And its ephemerality means that the content is more throwaway, less considered. So, between friends, it’s a more intimate and less self-conscious interaction.
But, as a brand using Snapchat, you don’t get the benefit of the multiplier effect you see with the more ‘traditional’ social platforms; it’s more of a messaging system than a social network. Campaigns that have been run on Snapchat so far look back to a one-to-one engagement. And there isn’t a halo, or amplification effect, from these conversations.
What is helpful for brands: the new ‘Stories’ functionality gives an opportunity for brands to tell more of a story, as it groups together snaps for up to 24 hours (effectively like a Storify). And the action required to view a post (you have to hold down the ‘view’ button) means any engagement is an active, conscious decision. But, they’re not providing any stats that allow a company to track beyond a post being viewed or not, which makes it tricky to know what’s actually working.
The tech-startup theory works that first you create your user base, and then you can establish your business model. They’ve nailed the user base already (30m+ active users). They’ve rejected two buy-outs, for $3bn and $4bn. So do they have their business model planned out yet? The ephemerality of the messages means they’re not retaining user data, so an ad targeting model such as Facebook or Twitter’s doesn’t work here. What do they have up their sleeve in terms of a business model that means they can reject those mahussive buyout offers?
- In-app licensing – getting users to pay for additional services. Or, as WhatsApp does, with their enormous 400m active monthly users, micro-charge users after the first year of free use. Reel ’em in, then they’ll be happy with a 99c payment.
- Native advertising – getting brands to pay to get content to the right people… how will they know their audience?
- In-app paymenrs for brands – Twitter are looking at instant, in-stream payments using a startup called Stripe
- Getting brands to pay for access to analytics
- Getting porn sites to pay for advertising based on the number of flesh coloured pixels on the screen…