Is Snapchat Useful for Brands?

2-snapcode-to-special-discover-channelA recent article in Fast Company touts the ephemeral nature of Snapchat as a way for brands (and particularly start-ups) to get the attention of new media users.

Is this wishful thinking, or a distinctive way for brands to communicate their messages “for a limited time only”?

I’m the wrong person to ask, as I’ve downloaded but never actually used the app. Let me know what you think (and respond before this message disappears…)




12 thoughts on “Is Snapchat Useful for Brands?

  1. Amy Lau

    I think that it depends. With Snapchat a user usually has to either purposely add a user or in this case a brand, or the brand would have to be on the Discover section. Start-ups would have to attract the attention of the consumer first to get them added to the users Snapchat. In the case of the Discover section, which features brands such as BuzzFeed, Food Network and Cosmopolitan the user has to first want to click on their brand before any message gets across. I agree that Snapchat is an interesting medium for brands to communicate their message, but there needs to be an awareness for the brand in the minds in the consumers before the message can even be communicated. So I think brands should focus on creating this awareness before moving onto communication of their message.

    1. Paige O'Grady

      Hey Amy! I agree with you in your statement about it depending if the brand would be an added contact, or if they would be found in the Discover section. However, I don’t think that start-ups would be particularly interested in buying space in the Discover section. They would be likely have to get their customer to find and add them, to then have their content displayed as their story. Therefore, this channel would probably be more tailored to consumers who already know about the brand, enjoy it, and are interested inactively engaging with it (i.e., brand evangelists).

      I get really excited when thinking about using SC as a corporate marketing medium and I would never leave it out of my agenda if I was working for a start-up. I think that the fact that people are actively choosing to watch and be engaged is rare, especially because of how bombarded consumers are with content marketing strategies now a-days. The channel’s organic, giving validity to the company and building trust with customers, and is a great way to show your corporate culture. If all else fails, the channel would still act as a means of conveying culture internally, getting employee-followers jacked up about work!

      How culturally different audiences are and the organizations target market could be areas of concern. I’d also be concerned about the long-term viability of the application, because even though it has been around for half a decade, we never know what tomorrow will bring in the social realm.

  2. Darren Kitto

    I agree with what Amy mentioned. Brands definitely do need that initial awareness, or even brand salience before they can think of using snapchat as a medium to convey their messages. To add, I think that companies could align their marketing campaigns so that one points its audience to the other (for example, a TV ad for Starbucks could mention at the end of the ad to follow Starbucks’ snapchat for up to date news about giveaways, offers, and etc.) to further create awareness for the brand before advertising through snapchat.

    If the brand awareness is high enough, consumers might want to follow the brand for news or just out of curiosity (awareness can cause curiosity). On Snapchat’s website (, they have an advertising section for Business users that outline key reasons why Snapchat is an effective marketing tool. Snapchat advertisements will take up the full screen of the mobile platform, where as ads on apps such as games and youtube take up to only 25% of the mobile device’s screen. Snapchat advertisements are 100% viewable, full-screen, providing Brands with a user’s full attention and so I think Snapchat is an effective marketing medium for startups as they can provide a high level of engagement between the viewer and the advertisement.

  3. Paul Viggiano

    The comments above pretty much hit the nail on the head, it depends. It’s been reported that SnapChat is now the most frequently used social media and the most valued by millennials. The typical brand manager hearing this wants to be where the consumers are. But like every other social media brand managers must make sure their brand personality fits with the platform and they can provide unique content.

    SnapChat isn’t another place to just put ads or commercials. Users want some value for seeing the brand here. I think this would be a great fit for brands like Nike or Gatorade which can show behind the scenes footage of athletes or commercials. It is also a great place for experiential brands such as: resorts, adventure activities to give you a taste of what it is like and reach potential consumers.

  4. Drew Padovan

    Personally, I feel differently than my classmates do about using Snapchat to develop their brand. Out of my friend group, I only know of people subscribing to celebrities they admire and close friends they “follow”. No one I know actually clicks on the advertisements or promoted events surrounding “Snapchat stories.” This could be a direct correlation to the age and individuals I know, as younger audiences may actually follow their favourite brands on Snapchat or click on the advertisements throughout.

    I believe that various Internet, Facebook, and Instagram ads could be more effective in gaining attention to new users, while targeting directly to their desired market. Perhaps I’m wrong, but Snapchat seems to tailor to younger audiences, with advertisements from new brands to gain a “buzz” most likely going unseen.

  5. Alexandra Wong (@wong_alexandra)

    I think Snapchat is still so new and consistently evolving (Memories, for example), that it makes it hard to judge its future potential for brands. Certainly a brand that is featured in the Discovery section is different than a brand that pays for advertisement during Discovery and is different than a brand that uses Snapchat for free as a more organic user like any other.

    A brand that I think uses Snapchat well is Everlane, an online apparel retailer. They use Snapchat to show the behind-the-scenes of the company, to give previews of its new lines, and to answer questions that its users have. It gives many faces to the brand and create a brand personality through its social media team and those featured in the snaps (usually other employees or Everlane brand evangelists). Everlane doesn’t pay to be in the Discovery section nor does it pay to have advertisements (as far as I know), but they are able to create a strong brand with Snapchat.

    Other brands that particularly use Snapchat well are personal brands – for example, Kylie Jenner, Jillian Harris (of The Bachelorette and Love It Or List It fame), and Gabrielle Union (an actress). I have friends who are dedicated to following these celebrities and their daily lives on Snapchat. This exposure can parlay itself into content marketing of its own (and it can be relatively easy and low-budget!) like Kylie Jenner doing a sponsored one minute video on Snapchat.

  6. Dawn Simons

    I completely agree with Drew’s comment, I don’t think I know a single person who follows a company on Snapchat. I do follow a couple of celebrities on Snapchat but as soon as they are advertising products on their story, I am immediately clicking through and not paying attention. I think that the main reason is that we are bombarded every day with hundreds of advertisements, whether on the Internet, Instagram, Facebook or even through the Apps we use. Snapchat has been the first social platform where we aren’t forced to see company advertisements and we have the control to see them or not. Therefore, I feel like companies that use Snapchat for promotional purposes are doing it wrong. Rather I think that if a company were to use Snapchat it should focus on the story that it is telling; either getting an insight into the culture at the company, using geofilters, or sharing coupons and contests would be the most effective. That means companies must have a strong execution plan for Snapchat and what the story will represent about the business.

  7. joelleleung

    I think Snapchat could be a very effective channel for brands to communicate their consumers. But this would be depending on who is the brands’ target market – the university and high school students. Showing pure advertising of a product or promotional deals in a few seconds to consumers would not work because many consumers nowadays are bombarded by advertisements and I doubt they would be acceptive to advertisements they see on snapchat. However, if brand managers could produce snaps just like how Dove promote itself with the “The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty”, it could help brands to create or strengthen their brand personalities.

    I think one problem about Snapchat is that you currently can’t share snaps with other friends, so unlike other social media platforms, snaps cannot go viral. Unless, brands are using geo-filter which is interesting because it allows the brand to interact with people who use snapchats. It provides brands an opportunity to create current, tailored and customized creatives to its target markets as they are “collaborating”.

    Overall, I think Snapchat would be an effective channel for brands to communicate with their consumers.

  8. Iorio, Di

    I have to agree with Joelle, I too believe that Snapchat is an effective channel to communicate with consumers and build brand awareness. Snapchat allows a brand to develop their ‘personality’ and share this with their immediate target market. As long as the brand is strategic with its approach and creates engaging posts, I can see Snapchat being a positive venture. As with any social media channel, your brand needs to fit with the source. Therefore, a fun-youthful brand would communicate well from the Snapchat source, but other brands such as investment banking, etc. may not fit this criteria.

  9. Mallory Fantham

    I think Snapchat is something that all brands should have for those customers that do happen to have brand resonance with the brand; however, I don’t think Snapchat can be used as a supplement to other customer engagements. For customers who have brand resonance with the brand, they may start following them on Snapchat and when this is the case, it is critical for the brand to have engaging, authentic and entertaining Snapchat content. This can help generate awareness about its Snapchat presence, and followers may even share content with friends, who will also be interested in sharing the brand. However, for commoditized products who do not necessarily have customers who have brand resonance with them (e.g. Tide), it may be difficult to achieve followers in the first place. In this case, Snapchat may be of lesser priority in terms of marketing strategy and communications.

  10. Gillian Geremia

    It is a disappearing platform but their main value proposition is the user engagement. If I engage with a good ad on snapchat I am so much more likely to engage and remember than I would be on many other outlets. It creates its media stories in bite sized information to attribute to the short attention span of a digital age. If the ad is relevant and shown within the ideal media story then it is likely to gain traction if the user believes in it. After all, they are on a mobile device and can look it up right on the spot.

  11. Jacquelynn Cort

    I agree with the earlier comment by Joelle that the geo-filters would be the most effective tool that Snapchat provides to brands. Being a Snapchat user myself, I get excited about looking at what new filters are available each day. You then can share a photo of yourself with this filter to a friend, or save it then share it on a different social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram. This would increase the number of engagements for the brand. The geo-filters work the best for concerts or events. For example, I received numerous snaps with the CMT Music Fest when it was taking place at Bingemans this summer. It gives you fomo and makes you want to purchase a ticket for the next day or a future show.

    In my opinion, a company just having a Snapchat account isn’t really worthwhile at this time. I already feel up to date with brands I love from my other social media platforms, specifically Instagram and Facebook. In many cases the Snapchats are repetitive with the information provided on the other social media accounts. You’d have to differentiate the information your providing to each platform to make consumers more engaged. Since Facebook and Instagram were created and gained popularity prior to Snapchat you most likely are already following those brands on these two platforms. If an individual feels similar to myself, their would be no need to additionally add them on Snapchat if you are satisfied with the amount of content the brand is providing.


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