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The Vanishing Act: Is Snapchat the Right Platform For Your Brand?

Snapchat provides video marketers with a wide reach — but is it right for your brand’s consumer base, ad budget and messaging?

Casual and snapchat

The internet’s a funny thing. Before its creation (those old enough to remember will support me on this) you could commit acts of quite staggering stupidity without any serious consequences. If, to give you a random example that definitely hasn’t happened to me, you got drunk and foolishly agreed to streak down the high street, then pre-Internet the worst likely scenario was that by some sheer fluke your Mum or one of her friends saw you and you were subjected to the ‘What will people think of me?” speech.  Embarrassing for sure, but not life changing.

Ever since Sir Tim Berners-Lee did his thing however that is just about the best possible outcome. Far more likely now is that all your friends and a few dozen strangers catch your naked run on video, post it to various online platforms and you become an overnight Internet sensation. You face disciplinary action at work because “This isn’t the image a multi-billion pound business/this government/the Catholic Church wants to project” and this singular moment in time follows you around for the rest of your life, shown at every birthday party, your wedding, even your funeral. That’s the reality the Internet has created, and there are only two solutions – 1) Don’t get drunk and streak down a busy street (but who wants to live in that world?) or 2) Snapchat.

Snapchat is a bit of a throwback to those heady pre-Internet days. Your video goes online to your followers for about ten seconds and then is (in almost every case) lost forever – just think how many careers might be saved if this were the only platform. The irony of course is that if you’re old enough to remember pre-Internet then you’re almost certainly too old to use Snapchat. So it’s great for saving potential embarrassment, but what about your business? Should you be using this quirky tool to promote that?

Well the numbers certainly make sense. There are over 166 million daily users and over 300 million unique monthly users – that’s a huge potential audience. As regular readers will know, video marketing boasts the highest engagement figures of any technique – so you combine these two facts and it’s a no brainer, right? Well yes and no.

Video marketing is all about engagement. For most big brands, having a clear, consistent brand voice and high quality, well-executed video is the basis for a successful marketing campaign. However because of its basic functionality and of-the-moment conceit, using Snapchat limits your ability to create a dynamic, well-produced video campaign. It works brilliantly for brands that rely on flooding their users with daily content take, such as digital publishers and high-traffic blogs that value sheer quantity over quality of output, but this flash-and-vanish approach may not be adequate for brands trying to tell a more in-depth, comprehensive story.

So whether it’s being utilised by Mashable or Under Armour (a brand that has done more than most on the platform and benefitted greatly from it, check out their work, it’s very good), Snapchat provides a great platform to reach a wide audience — especially if that audience is young. A massive 60% of Snapchat users are under the age of 25, meaning it’s far more likely to be effective for brands vying for the attention of millennial and Gen Z consumers, but probably won’t do much for those targeting a wider demographic.

Still on the fence? Well maybe the cost will help you with your decision. Logic suggests it’s bound to be cheap – after all they’re ten second videos and they disappear straight away – take a second to think about the reality of that fact for a moment – they can’t charge much for that can they? Well yes, it seems they really can. Snapchat advertising mostly operates on a cost-per-impression (CPM) model and the minimum monthly expenditure is $40,000 — yes, all those zeros are supposed to be there. Compare that with more traditional ad platforms like Facebook (1.2 billion daily active users) and Instagram Stories (250 million daily active users)  who operate on a per-click basis and can be set at a budget as low as $1 to $5 a day and that puts some real perspective on that huge outlay.

Compounding that $40,000 outlay is the fact that it doesn’t include any of your production costs and the videos aren’t really shareable beyond Snapchat. That wedge of cash is only buying access to Snapchat (and hopefully your target audience)…and that’s pretty much it.

None of this is to say that Snapchat has no value as a marketing tool, just that if you’re going to use video marketing on Snapchat you need to have a big budget and a whole lot of confidence as your reach and likelihood of success are difficult to both predict and measure. In an area of business where budgets are tight and analytics are key that’s a double whammy

The end result of all that is that we don’t make films for Snapchat and, as a rule of thumb, we don’t recommend it as we believe there are much better ways to spend your video marketing budget. And do we long for a return to a time before the Internet? Well no, as sadly that would destroy our business, instead we’ve just had to be a lot more sensible.

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