Snapchat, the hottest thing to hit the teen market since, well Facebook. Working in media, we are often asked, what is the next Facebook? Well it might not necessarily be Snapchat, but it’s certainly something to take serious notice of. Forbes estimates that 50 million people currently use Snapchat worldwide. Median age: 18. Facebook’s average user age is closer to 40.
So, what is Snapchat? Well, it’s an app that allows users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, from 1 to 10 seconds, after which they will be hidden from the recipient's device and deleted from Snapchat's servers (although with the replay feature and a recipient’s ability to screen grab, nothing is ever really deleted from the internet!).
This month saw every twenty-something’s favourite, HBO’s Girls launch their very own Snapchat account HBOGirls. The show used the app (known by many as a sexting medium!) to provide a countdown to the show’s US launch on 12th January, posting daily using the stories feature, to drive interest and excitement about Series three. It is unsurprising that a show that has captured the hearts of its fans with an alternative view of New York living has chosen a somewhat ‘underground’ platform such as Snapchat as a way of broadcasting their launch campaign.
However, not only is the use of Snapchat bang on brand for HBO’s Girls but a very cost effective way of providing broadcast reach with their campaign. An estimated 400 million ‘snaps’ are sent a DAY on the service, moreover as a marketer it’s fantastic to know your audience is fully engaged. The hold function of receiving a Snapchat means an audience is actively engaging, and more likely to be engaged due to the ’10 second self-destruct’ element of Snapchat media. However, the genius of marketing to this fan base is that they have opted in to hearing from you. Their audience have added the HBOGirls brand to their contacts list; they want to be engaged.
Although no concrete stats have been released by Snapchat, founder Evan Spiegel has suggested that 70% of Snapchat users are women (according to a Goldman Sachs conference in November 2013), so it’s a shrewd move by the HBO show. Engagement, mixed with excitement for the show, alongside a new way of communicating to the fan base has created quite a stir on social media and marketing blogs.
What does that mean for social media loving Australians? According to Socialmedianews.com.au published in November 2013, an estimated 1,070,000 Australians are active users of Snapchat. That’s a lot of potential engaged reach in a day; however, as with anything social, brands truly need an understanding of the passions and interests of their audience, before they wade in.
One of our own home grown media talents also showed the power of social media engagement with 2013’s launch of ABC’s Ja’mie: Private School Girl. Looking to tease a scene and the launch date of the upcoming series, creator and star Chris Lilley took to Twitter, encouraging fans to share an ABC link along with the hashtag #privateschoolgirl. A progress bar on the ABC site tracked the online conversation on #privateschoolgirl and once the required target was hit, the exclusive clip released. In less than 24 hours, the ABC show hit its social target, and fans were rewarded with some true Ja’mie King video gold.
These entertainment shows have cleverly, and cost effectively thrilled their audience alongside achieving their goal of targeting campaign messaging out to audiences. As with all good social campaigns, brands need to allocate time, resource and content strategies to maximise their effect, however the payoff can increase positive sentiment and share-ability, driving deeper engagements with fans, but the potential to harness the power of fan advocacy.
Snapchat, and Twitter alongside Facebook and Instagram are all key areas for brands to engage audiences who want to have a direct relationship with them. Think about why an audience loves your brand, and how you can make things a bit more personal. Once you understand that, the possibilities are endless, and a whole new communications channel opens up… 10 seconds at a time!
Sarah Stringer is innovations director, Carat Australia
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