We take a look at why Snapchat is still a B2B ghost town, for now.
Snapchat is many things to many people. For some young users, it's the social messaging app of choice for sending each other self-destructing images of their teenage bits. For cofounder and CEO Evan Spiegel, it's a pioneering digital enterprise with bigger plans than selling out to Facebook any time soon. Zuckerberg personally delivered an offer of $3 billion in 2013 but Spiegel didn't give up the ghost, and it's reported Google may even have bettered that with an offer of $4 billion (again, unsuccessfully). Use of the app has grown at an impressive rate, and the founders are clearly confident they can monetise it as more users and brands come onboard. But for B2B tech companies (or even the technology PR agency marketing them!), Snapchat is still a no man's land.
The rise of Snapchat can be attributed in part to the way its groundbreaking functionality has met user demand - demand for a multimedia messaging app that gives privacy-conscious users the ability to communicate without leaving a trace* and without exhausting those shortening attention spans we keep reading about in articles we don't finish.
*Snapchat messages aren't as ephemeral as we once thought; turns out the data is saved and the government can access it.
Now everyone's playing copycat: Tinder introduced its Moments feature and Facebook, which failed in its takeover bid and its first imitation messaging app, now has Slingshot, its latest effort which was accidentally released on the App Store before it was ready. Whoops!
Once established as a massively popular user-to-user sharing app, Snapchat caught the attention of brands looking to take advantage of a new social marketing channel and a captive audience. But these have been pretty much exclusively consumer brands, with companies like Taco Bell and fro-yo joint 16 Handles enjoying the most user participation in flash offers and show-to-claim coupon snaps that suit the ephemeral format to the ground.
Politicians and sports brands are also now using Snapchat to give followers behind-the-scenes content. Senator Rand Paul took to the network like a very awkward fish to water (see his "funny" viral share below), and the New Orleans Saints have been using the Stories feature to bring fans closer to the action.
The point is, we can't find one example of a B2B company using Snapchat. To figure out why that is, we need to look at the app's features and who makes up its user base.
The app's features can be broken down as follows:
No one quite seems to know how many Snapchat users there are, but we do know that a typical user is between the ages of 13 and 25, is more likely to be female, and takes lots of selfies. At last count a whopping 400 million snaps were sent daily.
Unfortunately, at the moment there is no way for brands to effectively track engagement analytics on any decent scale. This lack of meaningful metrics is certainly a red flag for marketing directors and CFOs looking for proven returns, especially when it comes to such new, unchartered territory. But surveys have given promising glimpses into users' openness to marketing: 45 per cent of American college students said they would open a snap from a brand they didn't know; 73 per cent said they'd do the same for a brand they were familiar with.
There are a few factors that may explain the dearth of B2B brands on Snapchat. Firstly, the young demographic; secondly, the (for the most part) ephemeral and tricky-to-leverage format; thirdly, the fact that many old-school marketers are more fond of using words like leverage than they are of blazing trails in unknown digital territories.
The slow pickup is understandable, but there's a growing sense that self-destructive marketing isn't brand suicide. After all, when Twitter users spend more time on the home page than on individual company pages, how permanent is a tweet in a crowded feed, soon to be squeezed out with the next refresh? And with the development of Snapchat features like Stories, there's growing potential for brands to promote company and product news, give behind-the-scenes peeks and generally encourage consumers to get to know a more personal, fun side of a business.
It will take investment of time and resource, but more businesses will aim to prove Snapchat to be a viable marketing channel. Lasting relationships can be founded on fleeting communications, and it's unlikely Snapchat will be a B2B marketing ghost town for long.
Find this useful? Check out our post on B2B marketing on Reddit too!
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, founder of TopLine Comms, and inbound marketing, B2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say. Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact the B2B PR Blog editorial team via email on [email protected].
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