Chances are you’ve heard of Snapchat.
Maybe you overheard your 14-year-old son/niece/student discussing its cool factor, or perhaps you caught wind of the massive media coverage of the social messaging platform regarding teens swapping inappropriate images.
For many – particularly those of us over the age of 30 – this may be the extent of your familiarity with Snapchat, but 2015 may provide you with a much more formal introduction.
Founded in 2011, its premise was quite simple to start: a messaging app that allows users to send images which subsequently disappear after just 10 seconds or less. Having discovered the hard way that “what happens on the internet stays on the internet,” tweens flocked to the self-destructing messaging app, only to be burned similarly by Snapchat’s early privacy issues.
Nevertheless, Snapchat’s ephemeral approach to messaging and social networking established a strong grasp on teens who quickly made the social network their go-to messaging platform and “app du jour.”
Despite its problematic childhood, Snapchat has since matured immensely. As an app with a simple and juvenile purpose plagued with legal issues just 3 years ago, it has since evolved into a reputable and massively popular social networking/messaging platform that boasts some truly staggering stats:
In addition to its organic growth as a messaging app, Snapchat has added several new features, most of which enable the user to be more creative with their snaps. The addition of image filters was a welcomed feature amongst their already Instagram-obsessed user demographic, and geofilters allow location-specific filters to be added to images.
It was with the advent of the “My Story” feature, however, that Snapchat advanced its game to the next level. My Story (or ‘Our Story’) enables the user to take a photo or video, add text captions/filters/doodles, and add it to their “story.” The user’s friends can then view the snaps in a successive, story-like presentation.
Brands have gotten into the mix, too, using Our Story to let users contribute to an ongoing conversation. Festivals, events, and other scenarios have effectively turned Snapchat into a branded livestream conversation. Users can contribute their piece of Our Story to participate in the bigger community conversation.
Despite debuting “My Story” only 7 months ago, it’s been reported that the feature already rivals the scale of some TV audiences!
With a captive audience amongst the high school and college-age demographics, it’s clear that Snapchat is prime for advertising and marketing efforts.
Early adopters like McDonald’s and Taco Bell pushed out Snapchat-specific content despite not yet fully realizing its effectiveness or value. Given Snapchat’s “opt-in” nature where users can choose to view (or not view) a sponsored snap, there’s strong indication that users are engaging with current campaigns. However, with limited KPIs available to offer insight, it’s not yet clear just how users are engaging.
As we embark upon a new year, the path of Snapchat’s trajectory is far from defined. If its massive user base, new features, and recent round of investments are any indication, however, 2015 holds big things.
For better or worse, 2015 will surely be the year that clears up any Snapchat confusion and determines the future of the platform and its ability to be leveraged for business.
What new features or functionality do you think Snapchat may introduce in 2015? How will businesses continue to leverage the platform for marketing purposes? Which brand will break ground with a definitively successful Snapchat campaign?