Why Marketers Should Love Snapchat As Much As Millennials and Gen Z

Posted by: Skyler Huff

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Behind us are the days of the ominous question, “What are you making that face for?” and the subsequent mortification when it’s discovered we were taking a selfie in public. In today’s world, selfies are totally mainstream – honestly, even expected – thanks to the uber popularity of social sharing app, Snapchat.

Snapchat claims a total of 58.6 million users, and considering millennials are the original instigators of the selfie, it’s no surprise that they make up the majority. Sixty-one percent of Snapchat users are those aged 18 to 34, according to eMarketer. They’re followed by generation Z, considered by eMarketer as those aged 12 to 17, at 23 percent. These numbers are expected to rise, particularly among individuals 12-to-24 years old, with 73 percent of smartphone owners between 12 and 17 and 70 percent of those 18 to 24 estimated to be regulars on the platform by the end of this year.

Based on these numbers, Snapchat is on track to double the amount of users on both Twitter and Pinterest by 2020.

“What makes Snapchat different from other mobile messaging apps – and more established social networks – is the short-lived nature of the messages, the highly visual interface and the features that enable users to get creative with the images they share, and tailor them to specific locations or events,” said eMarketer principal analyst Cathy Boyle in a recent report. “The fun aspect of Snapchat should also be credited for its success. In a world in which there is an app for nearly everything, Snapchat has cut through the clutter by injecting fun back into social sharing.”

And it’s exactly why millennials and gen Zers are so enamored, along with the app’s tendency to update frequently and anticipate user wants before they’re realized.

Released in September 2011 as a way to communicate short-lived pictures and messages with friends, the app has evolved over time to now allow Snapchatters a plethora of options for sharing and discovering content, including:

1. The ability to edit photos and short videos with filters, effects, captions, text and drawings

2. Posting of public “stories” to others on the platform, much like a Facebook update

3. Use of graphical overlay geofilters to show approximate locations, such as cities, events or destinations

4. Messaging between users with ability to leave audio or video notes, as well as recent camera photos

5. Lens feature that enables users to add real-time effects into their snaps using facial detection technology

However, Snapchat is quickly attempting to reposition itself from a “this moment only” social media channel to a greater discovery platform. The release of the “Discover” section last year created opportunities for users to find relevant content to them in short form video format. The channel provides updates on the latest news and trends from major publishers (think BuzzFeed, CNN, ESPN and Mashable). In true Snapchat form, a year later, the brand is again attempting to move into another space as an “experience storage” channel. The new “Memories” option allows snaps and stories to be saved into private storage to be edited or published again at a later time – completely shifting the original purpose of the vanishing, uncollectible photos that originated with Snapchat.

All of this is great news for marketers seeking a newer, creative way to reach the elusive millennial generation and the still developing generation Z, as they now have more opportunities than ever before to create native experiences to the platform that feel very different from the traditional advertisements of the past.

The lens feature is the newest option for marketers, which debuted in September. Snapchatters use it to add colorful veneers to the photos they take (there’s nothing scarier than the unicorn rainbow vomit one), and as they’re updated almost daily, they never get old. Brands have the ability to pay for the creation of their own versions that are designed by the makers at Snapchat.

Although the cost of the sponsored lenses can be pretty steep, the payoff if is worth it.

“The typical lens in a day gets a couple million of uses,” Elias Plishner, executive vice president of digital marketing for Sony Pictures Entertainment, told Adweek. “The real value however is not the number of times it’s being used, but the number of people who view content created by Snapchat users with the lens, which could be in the tens of millions.”

Another perk for those advertising with the app is its recent partnership with global information and measurement company Nielsen to measure the audiences of its 3V advertising on mobile devices. This will expand the platform’s current measurement capabilities, allowing them to deliver mobile audience reach, frequency, demographic composition and gross rating points (GRPs) – metrics seen commonly in other digital advertising space.

Measurement of the sponsored geofilter and the lens campaigns are reported to be implemented in the near future, potentially giving marketers even more supporting points for agreeing to a hefty price tag.

Although the exact numbers are out for now, there’s no denying that Snapchat is in with the most influential generation of our time – making it worthy of love from all brands.


To learn more about the Pivotal Generation and their impact on the market, download our latest research report Getting to Know Gen Z: How The Pivotal Generation is Different From Millennials.

Download the latest Gen Z research now

About Skyler Huff

As a Content Specialist at Barkley and the lead editor of MillennialMarketing.com, Skyler combines a fervor for strategic communication with a passion for serving others to create in-depth research reports and insightful trend-based material to...See Skyler's full bio.

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