For those that don’t know, we’re talking about Snapchat: an app that allows you to share photos and videos with a select group of your friends. “Snaps” allow a user to share, in real time, an experience, a location or a reaction, with the catch being that the messages disappear within a matter of seconds — you better be paying attention. The app allows a glimpse into your personal life unbridled by the noise of “likes” and comments which are commonplace on other social platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
While it once seemed like just a fad — good for taking selfies and not much else, and nearly resulted in a sale to Facebook —Snapchat’s exponentially growing user numbers, around 200 million a month, prove that it’s definitely here to stay. Snapchat’s key demographic is 13-25-year-olds, a unique group of Millennials who have grown up in this social-media-crazed age.
Because of the access to this previously unreachable age demographic, social media influencers and bloggers are now looking to have their network of followers join them on Snapchat, in addition to sites like Instagram and Facebook. On a recent press trip that Backbone organized for Eddie Bauer in Mexico, there was a mix of bloggers and fitness/style editors and this exact conversation came up a few times over the course of the four-day trip. Snapchat’s newfound importance became clear.
Bloggers see Snapchat as a way to not only allow fans greater access into their private lives, but as a channel through which they can authenticate themselves as experts in their field— be it fitness, beauty, fashion, food or healthy lifestyle. For example, the bloggers on this recent press trip were both style mavens and fitness enthusiasts, so having their fans see them surfing, hiking, and climbing a rock wall means they are living what they preach. Their experiences were captured on Snapchat unfiltered and in real time, as opposed to still photos you would see on Instagram, which have likely been altered.
But Snapchat is also capturing the interest of larger news organizations and brands. Snapchat launched the Discover feature in January, which allows brands and news outlets to continue with a traditional style of communication, reformatted for the digital age: “straight from the editorial team of a news organization into the hands of consumers, without a social media filter” says Tajha Chappellet-Lanier in an NPR article from January 2015.
With the launch of Discover, it’s not just news sites that are taking notice, but brands are beginning to jump on board as well. From getting sneak peaks at new collections, behind the scenes glimpses of major fashion shows, NBA drafts or even product testing, there are limitless ways that Snapchat can be utilized.
We’ll be watching to see how Snapchat continues to grow and if more brands turn to Snapchat as a way to engage with users — just as they do on Instagram. Social media is an ever-evolving platform and Snapchat is the new heavy hitter.
— Alison Nestel-Patt & Celine Wright