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Snapchat: Fad or Future?

Snapchat_logoAs consumer popularity trends higher with the photo-sharing app Snapchat, PR and marketing professionals should keep a close eye on the app’s progress in the social space and be prepared to think about strategically using this new vehicle to engage consumers.

Snapchat’s momentum can be tracked by following the money. Earlier this year, Snapchat secured $13.5 million in Series A financing from well-known venture capitalist firms. Only 120 days later the company secured $60 million in Series B financing.

One significant reason investors are opening their wallets is due to the amount of “snaps” users are sending and receiving on a daily basis. Snapchat users send and receive more than 350 million “snaps” per day, which rivals the number of daily photo uploads to Facebook. The strong trend of consumers uploading visual content bodes well for all social photo apps as well, such as Flickr, Instagram and Facebook. But if you like to be a social media early adopter on the innovation bell curve, Snapchat, which was recently valued at $860 million as reported by Forbes, should be the next photo-sharing app PR and marketing professionals download and become familiar with.

One of the core differentiators between Snapchat and other photo-sharing apps is that photos vanish or self-destruct once they are viewed by the receiver. Snapchat allows users to take a picture or video, alter the image by applying text or drawings to the image before sending it to a controlled list of recipients. The stress of having embarrassing or silly photos live eternally in cyberspace seemingly disappears – a befitting characteristic.

Taco-Bell-SNap-Chat-Icon1In addition to investors, Snapchat is also beginning to gain traction in marketing plans for companies. Back in May, Taco Bell, in a social media cross-promotional effort, encouraged their Twitter followers to also follow the company on Snapchat and be ready for an exciting announcement – which turned out to be the re-introduction of the Beefy Crunch Burrito.

Mashable reported in June that MTV UK used Snapchat to promote the sixth season of Geordie Shore – a Jersey Shore spin-off – circulating exclusive photos and videos to viewers’ Snapchat accounts.

While more robust efforts by companies to use Snapchat as a mainstream marketing tool is further down the road, the Snapchat team is examining how to incorporate advertising into consumers’ streams without disrupting the experience. While the lasting impression on consumers may be lost with a self-destructing message, there is an appealing part to creatively thinking about how to harness a lasting impression in 10 seconds or less.

An interesting Snapchat feature is that users are required to press and hold the photo or video while viewing. Does this feature help develop a stronger bond with the consumer because they actually have to touch the advertised product or service while viewing it?

As the Snapchat team irons out their product capabilities, tries to shake the juvenile image to attract a larger demographic and continues to build relationships with new and existing consumers, now’s a great time for marketing and PR professionals to become familiar with the app and start thinking creatively about ways to use this vehicle to reach target audiences.

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