Recently, David Berkowitz of Advertising Age discussed an interesting hypothetical situation.
His idea is one of “disappearing media,” or the (hypothetical) idea that marketers should act in a similar manner to Snapchat, embracing “the fleeting nature of their advertising” and treating all ads as if they’ll be seen once, then never seen again.
Although I don’t see such a stark change in the way that advertising is done happening any time soon, I like Berkowitz’s suggestion that marketers could learn something from Snapchat.
I’m going to take that idea one step further, and say that there are a handful of things that Snapchat can teach us about communicating on social media:
1. Brevity is in. We’ve all probably seen this coming since Twitter started gaining users a few years ago, but even so, brevity is here to stay (for now). Although platforms like Twitter remind us of the importance of brevity on a daily basis, platforms/apps like Snapchat take that one step further, making communication almost completely ephemeral. Users want their data fast, and many of them don’t care if it only lasts a short while–so as long as you give it to them in an easy-to-digest, clear way, you should be on good terms with your listeners.
2. We’re still very much defining how we want to communicate on social media. One thing that’s so amazing about social media is how ever-changing it is. Even in its (relatively) short life span, the way that we go about communicating on social media has changed and evolved many times. The new method of communicating with one another encouraged by Snapchat is yet another iteration of that evolution, and we shouldn’t be surprised to see even that completely change in a year or two.
3. Photos matter. Twitter recently made photos a more integral part of its network, and the results are impressive. As Adrian mentioned Friday, a test by Hubspot found that tweets with photos caused a 55% increase in leads over non-photo alternatives. Snapchat is all about photos, Twitter recently added photos, Facebook became more photo-centric earlier this year, etc., etc. It’s not hard to connect the dots and see that photos ought to be a central part of your strategy for communicating on social media.
4. You need to use different methods for communicating to different age groups on social media. This might seem obvious, but it’s fairly surprising how many different methods of communication are required within social media itself. Teens are leaving Facebook in significant numbers, and yet, Facebook still has many users (many of whom are adults). The same is true across social media on the whole.
Snapchat’s users are much younger than, say, LinkedIn’s users, and you need to use very different methods of communication in trying to reach each. Even within the platforms themselves (e.g. within Facebook), you need to try different strategies to reach middle-aged soccer moms than you do to reach young male teenagers. Not exactly rocket science, but it’s still interesting to see how much age diversity there is within a space that so many people think of as exclusively young.
Communicating on social media has never been easy–we’ve seen communication in general change a lot over the past few decades, and there are new things to learn about every day as platforms continue to evolve.
And as beautiful as complex blogs, white papers, or press releases can be, there’s certainly something likeable and interesting about short, direct content. While I’d be saddened to see all communication go the way of Snapchat, I’m excited to see how marketers and businesses react to this ultra-brief new manner of communication.
At its core, then, it seems that yes, we can learn something from Snapchat. In an era where people want their information and they want it now, advertisers and marketers should be looking towards consumers for advice on how to communicate–not the other way around. Brevity is key, and in many cases it’s true that the simpler and more to the point you are when communicating on social media, the better.
While I’m not sure that Snapchat is worth anywhere near the $3 billion offer they just turned down from Facebook, at the very least, they’re an interesting example of new methods of communication hard at work.
Image credit: CC by adafruit