As the great Mr. Bowie said, “turn and face the strange changes.” Marketing tactics, media habits, and consumer preferences are indeed in a constant state of changing, and small businesses need to keep up! Two rapidly rising trends that offer exceptionally ample opportunities for small businesses are the new social and media platforms SnapChat and WhatsApp.
SnapChat is a new twist on texting that focuses on sending picture-based messages (a.k.a. captioned photos). SnapChat has over 30 million users, with most users logging in 4 or more times a day to check for new messages, a.k.a. “snaps.” The majority of users are 13-25 years old, and almost all active users report checking the brand-focused “Discover” section at least once a day for entertainment.
Individual messages (snaps) disappear after just a few seconds, but your messages will be seen by all of your fans – no organic reach problems here. A story is a broadcasted message that reaches all of your fans at once, and lasts for 24 hours.
Much like trending hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, images can be grouped into common themes, and SnapChat will feature select snaps in these themed categories on every user’s main news feed section (called Stories). Not only can brands send messages to all their contacts broadcast-style, but messages have the potential to be broadcasted to the entire SnapChat user base, if selected for inclusion within SnapChat’s themed posts.
Businesses also have the option to be included within the Discover section of the SnapChat app, but this costs money, similar to promoted posts on other social networks. Small businesses can win big by creating marketing messages that coincide with the public-facing themed categories on SnapChat, just as participating in trending hashtags increases one’s exposure on Twitter. If your brand’s “snap” is included, it can be viewed by SnapChat’s entire user base.
As with other popular social networks, a major marketing goal in using SnapChat is to encourage your fans to post photos of themselves using your product or at your store, for all their friends to see (social proof). Given SnapChat’s “cool factor” and immense popularity with the trendiest consumers, being featured on this particular social medium will go far.
Overall, SnapChat is inexpensive, incredibly popular, provides excellent reach, and gives brands a lot of opportunities for creative marketing messages.
How it Works
Your images can last for up to 10 seconds and can consist of one or several images (like a slideshow). You can then add text or free hand doodles to the image(s), and small businesses should – it’s common practice amongst the app’s users.
Once you take a basic picture (a snap), if you swipe to the left, “filters” or additional graphic overlays will appear for you to choose from. These are location, time, or theme-based. Brands can increase the likelihood that their snap will be included within the public-facing themed broadcasts by using the appropriate filter (using the summer-themed filter will increase the chances that your brand’s snap will be included in the public-facing summer snap collection, called a story).
You can then choose if you’d like to send the snap to selective recipients or to all of your SnapChat connections by sharing your snap as a Story. To increase the likelihood of your messages being broadcasted to SnapChat’s entire user base, create a snap that coincides with one of the themed filters and share it as a Story.
WhatsApp is a web-based texting service with a massive user-base – 700 million active users! Facebook bought WhatsApp back in February 2014, so it’s a safe bet that this app will continue to stick around, and likely continue its rapid growth. Its current popularity goes beyond just the tween set; the app is also widely used by family units as an easy and cheap means to stay in touch.
Mainstream consumers will likely become increasingly comfortable with texting or “chat style” communication as more websites and businesses employ live chat options for customer service or troubleshooting on their websites.
You can send (and receive) text, images, and video, which opens up a lot of possibilities for both marketing and customer service messages. Many brands have already begun making the move to WhatsApp and use it for marketing, customer service, surveys, or VIP programs. Picture-based customer service queries have already proved to be abundantly popular with consumers on WhatsApp.
Whether you utilize WhatsApps for broadcasting marketing messages or as a means to enhance your customer service with multimedia-capable messaging, WhatsApp is a popular and useful multimedia app that costs next to nothing to operate. Another major benefit for small businesses is that, like SnapChat, WhatsApp allows businesses to reach all of their fanbase right away, as opposed to the limitations of “organic reach” on Facebook or Twitter.
How it Works
Fans connect with your brand on WhatsApp and you send them broadcasted messages (much like Twitter) via Broadcast Groups.
You can send a message or pose a question to an entire group, then choose to respond individually (customer service) or keep the conversation going within the group (marketing).
The key to marketing success on these new, trendy platforms is to connect with your fans using pop culture topics, themes, and language. Keep an eye on trending buzzwords or pop culture events each month or season, and check out what some of the bigger media companies are doing with their social media strategy.