Snapchat: Fad or flippin brilliant?

Snapchat is a photo sharing app created in 2011 by four bright sparks from Stanford University. The app allows users to take a photo or record a video, add text and drawings, and then send it to a chosen list of recipients on their contact list who also have the app. The ‘comforting’ factor is that the sender can set a time limit for how long the recipients can view their message, for up to 10 seconds, after which it will be hidden from the recipients device and deleted from the company’s server altogether.

In theory, that sounds great. A bit of harmless fun and a more personal way to engage with one another. But we all know that anything you share in cyberspace is not erased all together. This type of data is nearly always possible to recover with a certain level of technical know-how.

Since November 2012, users have shared over one billion photos, with an average of 20 million photos a day. It’s most common for photos to be sent to a group of people over an individual.

The target audience for this app is 13 to 23 years olds yet, interestingly, there has been a growing base of over 40s also wanting to engage with the trend.

So how are brands using Snapchat?

It’s early days so naturally there are a number of ways brands are experimenting with Snapchat, including creating contests, sharing insider information, giving discounts, gamification and encouraging its use at events to gain word of mouth.

Taco Bell adopted an ‘insider information’ approach to build brand engagement. It’s asking you to become their ‘friend’ on Snapchat so that they can send you special announcements, like this tweet suggests.

But there’s more to it. Once they have you as a friend on Snapchat, they might want to send a ten-second video advertisement for this taco product – so really it’s just another advertising medium to target engaged customers.

Co-founder Evan Spiegel, 22, says “There is real value in sharing moments that don’t last forever”. I’m not so sure I agree with that, but I applaud the founders – yet another social networking innovation that has changed the way many communicate, for the time being.

Author: Gabrielle Gillard