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Snapchat. It's become a buzzword in Japan as well recently, significantly increasing in chatter in the past six months. Despite all the talk, it remains intimidating to some and misunderstood by many, including marketers. While the best way to learn about it is to actually use it, here are 5 points that prevent many from taking the dive.


1. It's only for young people.

Cute and sometimes weird face lenses and the many young people having fun sharing them online can give the impression that Snapchat is simply a fun app void of grown ups. Contrary to popular belief, Snapchat's biggest age group is not school kids but 18 to 24 year olds. Its second biggest is 25 to 34 year olds. While it still skews younger than any other global social network, the abundance of Millennials spending time in the app are likely to fit the target demographic of many businesses. And while its UI was initially intended to keep elders out, like every other social network, it will eventually age up. Remember, Facebook was only for college students once upon a time.

2. The 24-hour lifespan is too short.

The fact that everything disappears after a day has many fussing about their content only being around for a short time. The truth is, however, that because Snapchat Story content doesn't get pushed down a stream and buried, followers are more likely to access it for a longer period of time. The lifespan of a tweet is minutes, an Instagram post maybe a few hours.

The ephemeral nature of Snapchat content actually encourages content consumption because users know that they can't freely come back to it later on their time. While content can be uploaded again to a Story from Memories, followers cannot access it until it is. Many now suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), which is why people spend 30 minutes a day in Snapchat consuming content that they know will disappear. As a rep for a University that brands itself on Snapchat said, "When you post a tweet, maybe 1,000 of your 5,500 Twitter followers will look at it, whereas if you post something on Snapchat and you have 2,000 followers, you'll get 1,900 views." Giving fans something to look at for the day on Snapchat can be great for company branding.

The average lifespan for a tweet is only around 18 minutes, according to a study by Moz.

The average lifespan for a tweet is only around 18 minutes, according to a study by Moz.

3. No clicking to websites means no marketing value. 

Snapchat is virtually a completely closed ecosystem, not allowing users to click out to a website. This "closed" phenomenon is growing trend, however. Facebook is also trying to move in this direction with Instant Articles (vs. linking out to content), Canvas Ads (vs. linking out to a landing page) and having its algorithm pushing natively uploaded videos. Pinterest has begun allowing shoppers to visually search for products in their photos and buy them all from within the app.

This lack of clicking to a website, however, shouldn't deter anyone who has thought about or done billboard ads, TV commercials or printed flyers. Like with any type of marketing, being in front of eyes and ears is the only thing that matters. Snapchat's average content consumption is incredibly high: 85% of followers consume all content in a 10 snap Story. The key for companies is to create interesting short stories around their brand in Snapchat form. One company that does this well is Taco Bell.

A study of company Snapchat Stories show that content views are high, with 85% of followers viewing a 5 to 10-Snap Story in its entirety after the autoplay update. via Snaplytics

A study of company Snapchat Stories show that content views are high, with 85% of followers viewing a 5 to 10-Snap Story in its entirety after the autoplay update. via Snaplytics

4. It's too confusing to use.

Snapchat just may be a paradigm shift in social networking. It's even said that Snapchat represents the move from the Information Age to the Experience Age, where the focus is virtually showing points of view versus pushing and curating content. The UI itself is intimidating at first and unlike any other network, so it takes some getting used to. But after a little bit of playing with it and realizing that it really is only 6 easy screens, it's maybe one of the least complicated social networks around.

Snapchat screen layout map.

Snapchat screen layout map.

5. It's better to wait and see about its future.

Snapchat's future is unclear. So is Facebook's. So is Twitter's and any other network's. In fact, all of these major networks that we all talk about and talk on today didn't even exist 15 years ago. The mainstream Internet itself is only about 20 years old. When we think about how they came to vastly impact our everyday lives in such a short time, it's undeniable that we're in an era where speed and the ability to adapt and innovate has a lot of value. In the lag time of waiting and feeling it out is when new disrupters emerge and cause shifts in industries.

What's already clear about Snapchat is that it has a rapidly growing and highly engaged 150 million global daily user-base that watches more than 10 billion videos a day. With these stats backed by a $16 billion-plus valuation and an investment from Geodesic Captial to specifically push into Japan, Snapchat's future in the country has turned from "if" to "when."  That "when" is getting closer and closer, so learning the ins and outs of Snapchat now can bring benefits to your company's social future.

Since May of this year, Snapchat geofilters in Tokyo and its different areas have dramatically increased.

Since May of this year, Snapchat geofilters in Tokyo and its different areas have dramatically increased.


via TAM
We help businesses bridge to and from Japan via social.

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