Could Snapchat be the world's next Facebook?
Small businesses looking for ways to form a more personal connection with customers should consider using a new messaging app on the market, experts say.
Unlike most social mediums where posts are public, Snapchat allows businesses to form a personal connection with recipients, creating an element of exclusivity.
The more established social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter rely on the shareability of content to increase your reach and, in turn, your audience.
However, Snapchat does the opposite, keeping any interaction with you private and individualised.
Snapchat works by allowing the user to take a real-time picture/video, add a message or drawing and send to one or many friends for up to 10 seconds. After this time, the image or video is deleted. Users then typically respond with a snap of their own.
The app comes at a time when many marketeers are trying to find communication tools that enable them to build customised marketing messages with individual customers. A high-profile example is Woolworths, which is favouring personalised, targeted marketing based on the data provided by its reinvigorated loyalty program Everyday Rewards.
Head social media addict at Addicted to Social Debbie Hatumale says Snapchat is a great engagement tool for businesses.
"Imagine if you were able to offer an original offer directed to a particular person, which could be based on previous transactions, age, demographics, likes - the possibilities are endless," she says. "Wouldn't that increase the chances of them taking up the offer?
"And if you're worried about the recipient taking a screenshot of their tailor-made offer and sharing it - does it really matter? They've just given your business a recommendation, and you've reached someone you haven't before."
Snapchat has been created in the US and is widely used there, with celebrities jumping on board. And there are some early indications it could have a strong uptake in Australia in a short space of time. The number of Australians searching for Snapchat via Google has grown dramatically during the past six months. And Snapchat's Silicon Valley investors have described it as "one of the fastest growing companies we've ever seen or been involved in".
Director of digital advertising agency ntegrity Richenda Vermeulen says it is not a commercial platform, although the app generates sales and increases retention through developing a relationship with a consumer.
The stage is set for a small business to be one of the first to use this new app, particularly given that so many larger brands outsource their social media management to outside firms, she says.
"Despite its potential, the number of Australian brands using it is non-existent. This could be because so many businesses outsource social media, so it's being overlooked as a viable option by key decision-makers.
"For brands to use Snapchat well, they would need to have a good social/customer service representative responding to conversations and managing communication."
Brands winning on Snapchat are not using it to share their content. It is focused on the customer snapchatting the business, and the business then responding with a Snapchat of its own.
To decide if this app is right for your business, consider whether your target market falls into the Snapchat demographic.
The app has attracted a young base of users aged between 13 and 24, with a growing over-40 segment.
LogicalTech Group national marketing manager Cassidy Poon says many consider Snapchat to be the next Facebook, based on its strong growth and popularity with the most difficult demographic - the 18-to-25-year-olds.
Mr Poon considered whether the app might work as a marketing tool for LogicalTech, but decided against it due to privacy concerns.