Snapchat v. Slingshot – the new Social Media Bout

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If you are not a heavy user of social media, you may not yet be aware of Snapchat – but it’s a sure bet that your kids are. The Millennial Generation has taken to this recent network arrival in a big way. The company claims to be handling 700 million photos and video clips a day.

For this is another image-based social medium. You can send photos (often selfies or other fun snaps) or a video of up to 10 seconds – and the central feature is that these self-destruct after 10 seconds. So they don’t clog up your phone and it’s an ephemeral, instant thing. (Unless you take a screenshot and save it…) Bear in mind that this is a mobile phone-based app, not a computer one, so is of a similar ilk to WhatsApp.

Snapchat started as a college project and was only launched commercially (as a free iPhone app) in July 2011. Technical issues delayed the Android version until late 2012.

Social Media Marketing

Suitors Scorned

It has yet to build up any serious revenue; and so when Facebook offered to buy it in November 2013 for $3bn, it was amazing news. It is also rumoured that Google then offered $4bn… Both were turned down, and shortly afterwards Snapchat received a third-round VC funding injection of $50m.

Facebook already had form in this market. It introduced the Poke app, which was a virtual Snapchat clone. Evan Spiegel (Snapchat’s co-founder and CEO) claimed that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had threatened that ‘we are going to crush you’. However, Poke failed and was withdrawn from the Apple App Store early in 2014.

Snapchat Stories has been a runaway hit – it allows members to link up shared material and chat, and this content lasts for 24 hours. It is overtaking the individual Snapchat messaging in popularity. This has useful benefits for business applications. Clearly, the company needs to develop an advertiser-funded revenue stream (even though it has yet to post any formal information for advertisers on its site). It is said that there are plans to offer ads over the images that are posted.

Business Insider assesses that 71% of Snapchat fans are under 25. It is seen as more engaging and fun than Facebook, which is rapidly ageing: according to iStrategyLabs, members of 55 or more years old have boomed by over 80% in the 2011-13 period. While (as a result?) teenage users reduced by 25%. So if you are seeking the grey market, Facebook may now be your medium of choice.

Social Media Management

One More Shot?

And now the heavyweight is coming out fighting once more, to try to take the title from its younger upstart. Facebook has just launched Slingshot. Analyse its features and it is essentially Snapchat 2: in the same way, it is mobile based and allows you to add images and short messages to your photos or videos. It is less based on the material self-destructing: recipients can more easily keep it. And messages are not one-to-one: they spread around your circle.

The big difference and a controversial one, is that you effectively have to ‘pay per play’ – to see the incoming image properly, you have to ‘sling’ one back to the sender. This is allegedly due to Facebook’s concern to limit the flood of unwanted images that would otherwise overwhelm you. The forced interaction will surely reduce the app’s appeal – and (as no-one else seems to have yet commented) it must make it effectively ‘dead in the water’ as far as content marketing is concerned. Who wants to send one of their photos to a company, just to be able to receive their promo?

Content Marketing (ingenuity required)

Although Snapchat may be a fairly new option for advertisers, some case histories are emerging, albeit B2C at present. These include –

  • Taco Bell
  • McDonalds
  • New Orleans Saints (NFL team)
  • 16 Handles Yogurt

These have shown how ingenuity can pay. McDonalds promoted their video chats via Twitter, to encourage people to see the ads for a new sandwich product. The Saints showed off merchandise and apparel to fans. While the yogurt retailer sent out a video coupon with a warning that you must not open it until you got to the store – because of course it disappeared after use. The value could be 30% off, or up to 100% off.

So here’s the challenge – B2B Marketers, you cannot ignore the Millennials. Starting with the hiring process. Yes, you’ve got Linkedin at the higher levels, but what about attracting bright young unproven talent? Try following the example of Ireland’s Sober Lane pub chain. To recruit 15-20 people to run their new Dublin outlet, they posted an ad solely via Snapchat and got 200 applicants. (See their Twitter teaser here)

Social Media Training

(More: How Social Media enable Targeted Recruitment)

Then there are the Advertising message opportunities. Yes, there is a hurdle to surmount, in that you must capture a database including mobile phone numbers (people have to add you as a contact). But that can be built or enhanced, as McDonalds and Sober Lane did, by promoting through Twitter in such a way that people want to sign up and participate.

It’s a fun medium – so have fun with it. Let your corporate hair down. Can you maybe do one of the following?

  • Show people what you are like behind the scenes, off the record
  • Give away something of value to prospects
  • Run a short-dated special offer or promotion

It’s very early days, and Snapchat is best seen as an add-on to other social media as part of your Content Marketing strategy. But you can be sure that we at London’s Hannon Digital are on it, and are alerting relevant B2B advertisers to the creative opportunities that exist to be the first mover in their particular sector.