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Snapchat and the Growth of Ephemeral Content in Marketing

Over the past few years, Snapchat has experienced unprecedented growth in its active user-base. In fact, as of 2015, the platform was outpacing Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at the same 4-year point in their existence. When Snapchat originally emerged on the scene in 2011, it was differentiated by impermanent content and messaging. While this functionality immediately resonated with a younger cohort, the ephemeral nature of the content presented a challenge to brands evaluating how they could meaningfully make use of the tool. Spending enormous amounts of resources and strategic planning on content that would immediately disappear does sound like any marketer’s nightmare.

Still, with 100 million daily active users fueling 10 billion daily video views, brands are no longer able to ignore the massive potential for engaging younger consumers on the platform. Roughly a year ago, Snapchat introduced its Discover platform, a series of channels dedicated to showcasing daily content from publishers and media sources, including digitally-native sources like Mashable and BuzzFeed, as well as traditional news media such as Cosmopolitan and The Wall Street Journal. The results have been nothing short of incredible.

Cosmopolitan’s Snapchat Discover channel has generated, on average, 19 million views per month, compared to 20 million unique visitors on the brand-owned website. Additionally, views from Snapchat reportedly drive 21 percent of BuzzFeed’s total company traffic. This has resulted in the growth of Snapchat-specific departments, according to the International Business Times, “Refinery29, a female-focused site, has 10 employees on the Discover channel. The Wall Street Journal, Snapchat’s most recent partner, created a five-person team. Fusion has 10 full and part-time Snapchat staffers.”

So Snapchat has some value for media companies driving engagement and video consumption. But is it valuable for brand marketers looking to create loyalty and sell products? In short, absolutely. And it’s value will only continue to grow more powerful for brands as the platform improves and younger consumers age and gain spending power. Here are a couple of reasons why brands should be paying attention to Snapchat now and into the future:

Mobile-First, Location-Based

Like Instagram, Snapchat is mobile-first. Actually, it has no real functionality off of mobile devices, which means that it is also inherently location-based. Snapchat is relevant in the moment. Already, there are filters to service specific locations and events, as well as branded filters that users find useful and engaging. It’s the new thing, and consumer brands need to jump on board.

Sponsored Impulse-Buying

Consumers, especially younger Millennials and Gen-Z, rely on their phones for all of their decision-making needs. More and more, consumers turn to their phones for shopping, dining, and entertainment information while they are actively looking to do those things. This is where Snapchat has a clear advantage. Soon, we could see offers being sent to people through the app based on their profiles and locations. Using geo-targeting, an offer could surface for a store or location they are near, but in the ephemeral spirit of Snapchat, the offer could only be good for 30 minutes. In other words, create impulse buying through scarcity. People love to feel as though they are getting a deal that others will miss out on. And it’s 100% in-line with the users’ expectation for how the platform works.

Screenshot it or it’s gone forever. There is a timestamp on it. It will trigger an impulse buy. These are just a few of the advantages that Snapchat possesses. How will Snapchat strategically activate this functionality? How will brands evolve accordingly? The next few years are sure to be even more exciting for this platform that isn’t going to “disappear” anytime soon.

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