Snapchat has defied all the odds. Launching as an ephemeral, disappearing mobile app five years ago by Evan Spiegel, Snapchat has grown from what was once demised as a sexting app to this generation’s MTV.
Now housed in the youthful corporate entity that is Snap Inc. with expanding companion products such as its red-hot Spectacles, Snapchat continues to take the lead among social apps with the hip, younger crowd, reaching 41 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the US, while nearly 70 percent of all 18- to 24-year-olds use the app, reports ComScore.
“You can guarantee these kids are always on it checking their phones,” said Grace Segundo, senior manager of digital marketing at Capitol Records, to CNET. Capital leverages Snapchat as a centerpiece for promoting the label’s artists. “It’s like being at the actual party, instead of curating what people see from the party.”
Snapchat has more than 150 million daily active users worldwide and last month filed for an IPO that values the company at $30 billion.
Since launch, Snapchat has confounded users and critics alike but “Snapchat’s true genius can be seen in the way it ushered in the era of casual social networking, the antithesis of Facebook,” notes CNET.
While Facebook strives to chronicle a user’s life, Snapchat is about this moment. “It’s not about an accumulation of photos defining who you are,” Spiegel said, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. “It’s about instant expression and who you are right now.”
It has evolved along with its audience and is now the sweet spot for advertisers and brands wooing millennials as releases Spectacles, the $130 flamboyant, colorful sunglasses with an on-board video camera that records 10-second clips that post directly to Snapchat.
The release of Spectacles was buzzworthy, as they’re only available at pop-up bright yellow vending machines, called Snapbots, which appear by surprise and disappear seemingly as quickly as they surfaced. (Or you can take your chances on eBay.)
— Robert Guajardo (@RGuajardo18) December 13, 2016
New updates to the app that are sure to engage millennials and marketers include setting up groups for up to 16 people (in a bid to take on WhatsApp) and integration with Shazam to identify songs in a pitch to music-lovers who may be wooed away by Musically and Spotify.
— Shazam (@Shazam) December 13, 2016
Snapchat’s ad revenue has risen from $59 million last year to nearly $367 million in 2016, reports eMarketer. It is poised to surpass Twitter’s 317 million monthly active users by year’s end.
In anticipation of its looming IPO, and with fierce competition at its heels, the company has rolled out new features to keep its fickle audience rapt including.
Already loved by media and brand publishers, the six-month-old “Stories” feature lets people and brands create a narrative from messages, videos and photos from the past 24 hours; “Discover” is a broad news section curated by a select group of publishers; and “Lenses,” offer a choice of filters — animated overlays to photos and videos — that brands and users alike have been having fun exploring.
Nordstrom, for example, launched a holiday lens that lets a user put their face inside a snow globe, while Target and American Eagle have created “Snap Ad” video campaigns that play for up to 10 seconds with an option of clicking through to a website.
Follow us on Snapchat: 'NordstromSnaps' pic.twitter.com/0qOVfEMSTJ
— Nordstrom (@Nordstrom) June 28, 2014
Other brands including Taco Bell, Gatorade, Chipotle, Mountain Dew and others have launched sponsored lenses and campaigns.
Embedded “Snapcodes” in TV shows and digital videos are scannable and unlock an exclusive lens or geofilter. They’ve appeared so far on Netflix’s Gilmore Girls, Fox’s Simpsons marathon and NBC’s Hairspray, among others.
WPP is spending about $70 million with Snapchat, CEO Martin Sorrell said last week, adding that his network of agencies plans to increase spending with Facebook, which has been “trying to undermine Snapchat.”
Facebook, playing catch-up, is eager to win younger (though older than 13) consumers with a new video tab “even functions like Snapchat, in that awkward and confusing-for-anyone-older-than-a-teenager way,” reports Mashable.