Snapchat: the app that is dominating 2016!

If you are a fan of social networks or if you just like using them, you may certainly have heard about Snapchat in the last few months.

Andrea Dovichi

Snapchat, the app “that will dominate 2016” (as Marco Montemagno, one of the top Italian experts in digital innovation stated in January: http://bit.ly/pjl47-snap2016), is a messaging app based on the concept that once you send the contents (usually an image or a video together with a short text), the receiver has 24 hours to read then just once before they are automatically deleted and lost forever.

DESPITE ITS SUCCESS BEING ONLY RECENT, THIS APP WAS BORN IN 2011 from the intuition of two 20-year olds, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, struck by their friends’ habits of deleting compromising photos from Facebook before going on a job interview. In the months following its release, analysts noticed that maximum use was during school hours: students used it to exchange test answers, taking advantage of the fact that the messages were automatically deleted, showing that what could be retained a limit was actually the application’s strong point. In just a short time, Snapchat aroused the interest of the web giants: Facebook tried to buy it twice (offering a million dollars first and then three million); the Chinese colossus WeChat had the producer appraised and even Google was attracted by the work of the two young developers.

WHAT SEEMED LIKE AN APP “FOR TEENAGERS” used only to pass test answers around or for “sexting”, proved to have great potential. Despite this, Snapchat remains difficult to understand, counter-intuitive and minimalist and because of this, it is appreciated mainly by “millennials” (http://bit.ly/pjl47-millennials) that represent its largest user pool. So how can a complicated app that does not allow saving the contents produced have such great success?

THE “SECRET” LIES IN ITS UNIQUE FUNCTIONALITIES THAT MAKE IT EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE in communicating with the reference target. It is continuously evolving (new functionalities are introduced often that allow marketers to be increasingly creative and innovative), the temporary contents force the public to assiduously follow the brand, users can follow the company through a QrCode (called SnapCode) or through the username and thanks to this low automation, only those who are really interested become followers. Millennials do not easily let themselves be influenced by traditional marketing; the posts perceived as advertising are not followed while the entertaining and “fresh” posts – even if advertising – are very successful.

THE EXPEDIENT ADOPTED BY DEVELOPERS TO GENERATE THE SPONTANEITY, IMMEDIACY AND FRESHNESS DEMANDED BY THE TARGET was the introduction of stickers (fun icons to apply on photos) and filters (effects that modify the color tones of the photo). Foundational was also the introduction of trophies that unlock exclusive contents to users who perform certain actions on the app and – last but certainly not least – lenses, graphic elements that the app adds to videos once it has recognized the face seen by the video camera. So, considering the target and the possibilities offered by Snapchat, it is not difficult to imagine how users are utilizing it; but what about companies?

THE MAJOR BRANDS, TOO, HAVE STARTED USING IT IN NON-TRADITIONAL FASHION with campaigns focused on entertaining – H&M and Lacoste have organized treasure hunts in their respective sales points –, on interacting with the public – Miller invited some influencers to an exclusive party asking them to share the evening in real time –, or in innovative ways – WWF Denmark showed for a few seconds some photos of an animal species in danger of extinction to testify that their permanence on the planet risks being short-lived. In conclusion, Snapchat is a relatively unexplored platform with great potential. The important thing, as always, is to understand its mechanisms in order to be able to communicate one’s message using the most suitable language. *

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