social network adoption

Marketers have been closely watching the explosive growth of the latest social network, Snapchat. The social app now shares more that 350m photos every day. Because of the one-to-one messaging and pictures that self-destruct after just a few seconds, it hasn’t been obvious how brands could use Snapchat.

But it’s only a matter of time before marketers rush in. Some early Snapchat experiments have included Lynx in the UK and Taco Bell. Snapchat introduced “Snapchat Stories” in October as a step in that direction.

The marketing chatter on Snapchat resembles the marketing chatter in each of the social networks that have come along. Ridicule is eventually followed by a marketing stampede.

Last week, I met Gary Vaynerchuk while we was in the Bay Area to promote his new book on social media, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. I was struck by two of Gary’s general social media insights that I think are relevant to Snapchat.

First, when leaping into a social media, brands are often too heavy-handed with the right hook (making a sales pitch) to create value in the relationship. Brands that barge into Snapchat with too much of a promotion orientation will fall flat.

Second, every social network operates by a unique set of rules. People use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. for different reasons and in different ways. Trying to engage audiences the same way in each network is a missed opportunity. One size fits none. Brands will have to embrace the ephemeral nature of Snapchat communication if they want to resonate in Snapchat.

Snapchat won’t be a good fit for every brand. But brands ultimately want to be where their consumers are spending time. When they join the conversation, they need to remember to bring value to that conversation, wherever that conversation lives.

(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)

  1. Safi Ghauri says

    As well as being heavy handed with social media, from what I see there are not too many companies that do social media right – that is they mostly do one way communication with minimal interaction – and when some do interact you can see it’s forced. Companies need to wake up that social media is all about the first word – being ‘social’ and allowing conversations to take place in a natural rather than a forced manner (and of course the points you and Gary make)

  2. Eric says

    SnapChat is a great example of a social media platform that’s going to be really difficult to figure out for a lot of marketers. With the other major players, at least there’s some sort of obvious benefit (Facebook has its user base; Twitter allows for one-to-one conversations; Pinterest helps to establish a visual brand identity, etc etc).

    With SnapChat, the ephemeral nature of the beast means that the only thing you’re capable of doing is making an impression. It’s not exactly a great platform to deliver coupons or detailed product information on. I’m especially interested to see if and how it gets adopted by highly regulated industries, like financial services or the automotive industry, where not having an extensive digital trail recording the interactions between sales/marketing and customers can be a liability.

  3. JdW says

    Snap Chat is hard to use for marketing and I am going the to wait to see how it’s going for be used well. But I envy the person who figures it out. It’s like a race to treasure Island. The rewards will be worth it. The bigger the challenge the greater the rewards. We live in a world that requires creativity.

  4. Marvelle says

    It’s a bit ironic that Gary is one of the more heavy-handed marketers on Twitter (particularly for JJJRH) but one of his key insights is subtlety (at first).

  5. David says

    The ‘new, new media’ is a communication channel- but the three keys to marketing communication still apply: 1. Who is my audience? 2. What are they receptive to at that time? 3. What effect should I realistically target from my message? Examples: 1. A thirty something marketeer will struggle to engage a teen in person, ANY channel can make it harder not easier. 2. You don’t see many ads for funeral homes at sports events… for a reason. 3. A Snapchat commercial message should amuse, amaze or annoy and make the viewer seek, or be more receptive to, a fuller message elsewhere.

  6. Sean says

    Social Media is a platform for people to engage with people. It’s probably difficult for many Brands to either personify themselves or hand over the reins to a single human representative who can both portray the brand and offer all the warm, potentially off-message whimsey of a real person (let alone do so for hundreds of thousands of followers at once). I don’t think there’s any Brand I follow on social media right now that is not itself a person or small group (e.g. George Takei, David Tennant, or They Might Be Giants).

    One thing which I am willing to engage with, however, is the social media presence of a ~specific local outlet.~ For instance, I doubt Adagio Teas as a corporate entity could send me anything I’d care about enough to tolerate the spam. However, the [Adagio Teas Outlet at Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, IL] has a facebook account (with a manageable few-thousand followers) and routinely posts greetings, recommendations, invitations to stop in and sample the daily blend vis-a-vis local weather/season/events/etc., new flavors and packages they just got in stock, seasonal photos of the store and staff (most of whom I know by face, some of whom I know by name, all of whom are willing to chat about the latest stuff they post if I stop by in person), color commentary, etc. I have even on occasion asked tea-related questions on their wall and received direct answers.

    Delegating and distributing social media responsibility to a level nearer the customer, while probably antithetical to traditional Brand Identity management, can be a great way to keep interactions more personal and relevant, and indeed may be an emerging trump card brick & mortar retailers can have over online vendors…

  7. JamesA says

    Seems like Snapchat would be a good medium for companies that sell to the right demographic and have timebound discounts or sales. They could use snapchat to release a photo of a discount code that works on their online shop, and only those followers who save the code before it disappears can use the discount…

  8. Sean Peake says

    Sean, you make a great point (must be the name!). Social media can be more effective on a local level than national, as can paid search ads ( What I find interesting, and it will affect small to medium size businesses wanting to advertise on FB, is now FB admits that organic ads don’t really work on its platform (really?!). It suggests marketers spend more for their ads. In other words, FB wants some of the Google pie. And good luck with that. In my view, FB will start fading in importance within two years as Twitter rises—and it, too, will wane when the next big thing comes along.

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