By Alicja Gados
If you use SnapChat, you’ll know that what makes it famous is the short term nature of the posts, or Snaps. This has made it very popular with the younger generation, allowing people to express themselves with creative photos and posts that expire – namely, things you don’t want to paste onto Facebook, where they’ll stay forever (even if you delete it). The disappearing messages is what made SnapChat so famous, and now, they are making updates to allow users to save photos and videos.
New Memories Feature
The Memories feature, released July 6, will give more flexibility to users, and will undoubtedly change the way users use SnapChat. The new feature will also allow users to share photos and videos created outside of the app.
Now ‘snaps’ and ‘stories’ can be saved within the app for viewing or re-sharing later. The new Memories feature, will be a searchable image tool, and store images like an in-app camera roll. The images or videos can be re-used to add to stories later, or re-format and post again. For example, a few old snaps can be strung together to make a new story, and reposted snaps will show up with a frame around them so users will know that it’s from the past. The user must manually decide to save the images, or they will disappear just like all snaps or stories.
Though many love the fact that the photos aren’t saved, disappearing snaps have been an issue to some people for some time. In other words, why would you bother putting in effort to create an image for your friends to enjoy if no one will ever see it again? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to some people, and in reality, if SnapChat is going to grow it must reach a broader audience. This means it must reach out and appeal to older people – not just to pre-teens and teenagers. Is it a risky move to change something on the app that has defined it? Possibly, but it’s a necessary business step and a risk worth taking.
Practically speaking, the new memories update will allow users much more flexibility over the content they create, and they still aren’t forced to keep their images online permanently. Not only will you be able to save the image, now, you’ll be able to use the same amount of effort you use to compose photos for other platforms, such as Instagram, since now you can import photos from outside of SnapChat.
The memories feature is perfect for celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special event.
SnapChat on the Rise
SnapChat reports to have about 150 million daily active users, and is valued at an impressive $18 billion, as indicated by recently raised investor funding (source: Wall Street Journal). This is a sign that it’s valuation is on the rise, and may eventually rival top social network site Facebook (Facebook is currently valued at about $342 billion).
Essentially, this news signifies that SnapChat has finally reached the mainstream. Just a few months ago, in January, the White House began an official SnapChat account (source: Forbes). The Wall Street Journal is the first American newspaper to join SnapChat Discover. It’s growing, evident as serious establishments and businesses are taking it seriously.
SnapChat Memories for Marketing
We know that Snapchat can be great for branding (read our article on it here), but how will this new Memories feature improve marketing capabilities? Now that Snaps won’t expire, businesses can use the platform to create a more coherent brand message.
The company has already been working with publishers to add articles and videos that disappear after being viewed and is working actively to appeal more to advertisers.
Since SnapChat memories open the door to exhibit pre-produced photos and videos, it will inevitably lead to higher quality videos and photos. Brands can upload pre-produced content that was meant for posting elsewhere: for magazines, YouTube, Instagram and more. A video made for Facebook can be compacted into a 10 second serialized ‘Story’. The raw and unfiltered nature of SnapChat is what contrasted it with every other social media platform. Now, it doesn’t have to.
The risk is that brands may get ‘lazy’ and spam their content over all social media platforms. However, what works in one platform will not always work in another, since there are subtle differences in users and what they are used for. Re-posting content will be cheaper and easier than buying ads from SnapChat, but this is something that SnapChat can control by altering their terms of service in commercial content, requiring commercial ads to pay for advertising. This will all be sorted in time.
Or perhaps we’ll see what happened with Facebook, where marketers (myself included) enjoyed posting ads for free, enjoying free Facebook traffic until they changed it to a ‘pay to play’ structure. You’re still allowed to post ads on Facebook for free, but that point is almost moot thanks to the algorithm that selectively posts to users. Your post simply won’t have the organic reach if you don’t pay.
Since Instagram has also come up with a similar sort of algorithm, selective viewing, we can assume that one day SnapChat will too, once it’s value as an advertising platform is very clear to marketers.
To realize the potential of SnapChat for marketing, it’s important to know the SnapChat environment. The app is based on, and encourages casual conversation and ideas, communicated through videos and photos. Typically the app is used for documenting casual activities such as vacations, dinners with friends, and other daily social activities, and not professional behaviour. Now with Memories, older people are using the app, and it’s likely that the casual environment of the app may change. Already, the stories capability was used to present a climb on Everest, which is no casual endeavor. The pre-produced content wasn’t posted live, hence there was some control and thought given to how the account was given. The story documented climbers attempting to summit Everest.
The Memories feature will be rolled out selectively over the next month, and users will be notified via email when it’s ready for them to use.
Sources and Further Reading
Wall Street Journal wsj.com/articles/snapchat-valuation-nears-18-billion-1464301359
SnapChat blog http://snapchat-blog.com/post/146998839575/introducing-memories