How Brands Are Using Snapchat in Interesting Ways (No Really!)

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Perhaps you read about it and couldn’t believe it, but it’s true: Taco Bell showed its burrito on Snapchat. Maybe because Taco Bell is the first major brand on Snapchat and it just didn’t know any better, but somebody totally took a screenshot of Taco Bell’s selfie and posted it to the internet.

The gimmick was to announce the return of the Beefy Crunch Burrito in a way that would go viral, so maybe that worked. But what’s the real outlook for Snapchat as a marketing vehicle to help brands connect with customers? Maybe not too bad.

Back in January, a New York City-based frozen yogurt chain, 16 Handles, decided to send coupons to customers via Snapchat after those customers sent in photos of them enjoying 16 Handles’ product. Since then, 16 Handles have sent and received more than 1,400 snaps with users. Is that good?

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The thing about Taco Bell and 16 Handles is that both have only engaged with Snapchat users who have voluntarily added those brands as friends. Some time in the not-too-distant future, that might not be the case. Imagine when Snapchat begins pushing branded snaps to users for 10 seconds of engagement. The “native” qualities of the Snapchat environment lend several promising possibilities to the idea of Snapchat as a possible platform for brands to reach eyeballs, and since Snapchat doesn’t plan on raising VC funds, maybe that future will be here sooner than we think.

So what does Snapchat have going for it that other social media platforms lack? Urgency. That is, there is a certain do-it-now! quality to Snapchat because it is built around a structure that self-destructs (or at least pretends to.) This sense of urgency could compel users to act on a branded snap’s call to action more readily than they would a tweet or a Facebook whatever.

Alpha Marketing speculates that Snapchat could open up a whole new genre of branded promotional engagement like contests that value “quick fingers and a curious mind.” And unlike Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat is a personal communication tool that connects users directly to the brand as if by text message. So the potential for creating an intimate connection with users is an existing possibility that everyone will be watching as it plays out.

And since all the kids know how to take screenshots of Snapchat, a brand could certainly encourage their customer-friends to take screenshots of coupons to be redeemed at the register - a ploy that might have an “edgy” feel to it since screenshotting a Snapchat is the one thing every kid knows is something they shouldn’t do.

How do you see brands using Snapchat?