Snapchat: it’s not your kids’ social media platform – Robin Charney

There are a lot of misconceptions about Snapchat: that it’s for kids; that the majority of users are female; even that it’s a social network.

In fact, as Claire Valoti, general manager UK of parent company Snap Inc, told our audience of brands and agencies at our recent AAR breakfast event, a large portion of the UK’s 10m daily active users are parents, that the gender split is pretty equal, and actually – it’s a camera company. Yes, that’s right. A camera company!

Snapchat’s ethos is to give people a creative toolkit to talk to their friends using images and video. That’s why the app opens with the camera, to put people in the mindset of creation rather than consumption. It’s a very different perspective to other platforms to which Snapchat is often compared.

Human behaviours

And it stems from Snapchat’s recognition of three fundamental human behaviours.

Snapchat is about being creative, playful; what we do growing up that we now take for granted, and storytelling. Snapchat is based on tapping into these behaviours.

The second reason is Snapchat was built for the smartphone, an era defined by communication rather than data processing, where visuals are replacing text, and where your primary computing device is in your pocket 24/7.

And Snapchat is about being spontaneous and in the moment. There’s no pressure to create perfect images, because the content changes after 24 hours.

Emphasis on creativity

The result is an emphasis on creativity that extends to advertisers. Snapchat is challenging the possibilities around creativity on mobile which translates to a new approach to advertising on the medium, linked to the fact that people now have higher expectations for advertising and the value it delivers.

Advertising on Snapchat is not seen as “the tax” users pay in order to enjoy great content, rather it’s seen as integral to the story. Sponsored Lenses (Snapchat’s term for the moving overlays on Snaps) often prove more popular than those natively available, and are often seen as being cooler, too.

Examples of brands using Sponsored Lenses include: John Lewis’s “Buster The Boxer” Lens; Burberry’s use of Snapchat’s Discover channel; and Lenses for movies like Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse.

Snap Inc’s latest venture, ‘Spectacles’, – sunglasses with a built in video camera, which launched last autumn but are still only available in the US – allow the wearer to film Snaps which are then sent by Bluetooth or wifi to your phone so you can post them to Stories on Snapchat or save to Memories. It’s the evolution of Snapchat’s “camera company” positioning. It’s quite amazing how your perspective changes when you’re shooting video hands-free.

If I wasn’t a hard core Snapchat user before the presentation, I am now. I can really see how it’s a game changer for brands looking for a different kind of creative platform and a super- engaged audience with people spending on average of 25 to 30 minutes on Snapchat every day.  It will be fascinating to watch as the platform grows in the UK and engages with even more brands in 2017.