The expensive social reach of Snapchat

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There is no way around it; most businesses should have some form of a social media presence. The problem lies in which platform you should embark on first. Facebook? Although not perfect, it is the biggest and returns hoards of analytical data to understand your investment. Twitter? It is immediate and open to the world, so it’s not a gated investment. YouTube? It delivers the potential for the greatest impact, and your content has a much longer shelf life. Still none of these seem to deliver the “wow” factor. You may want to spend your outreach resources on a platform that shows your business is clued into the times and attracts key demographics. If this sounds familiar, then your decision might be

With Snapchat you’ve discovered the well of young, interconnected consumers. The platform allows for immediate and potentially responsive ad-buys. Finally, if you work the system correctly, you could turn users into brand operatives through features within the ecosystem.

Still Snapchat does come with plenty of drawbacks. First off, should you start a channel for your content to be seen users need to follow you. Snapchat’s public discover channels are an option, however, startup costs begin at $50,000, and Snapchat takes a percentage of ad revenue generated through discover. Second, until very recently, Snaps have not been allowed to be pre-produced or retained in the system for more than one day. So content needed to be immediate and ephemeral in nature, which is not something many businesses prefer from their marketing dollars. Third, there currently is no means for users to share third-party-generated content inside or outside the Snapchat ecosystem. This all means Snapchat has discovery, imprint, analysis and reach issues.

Of course you could forgo establishing a channel and invest in geofilters whereby users overlay their Snaps with GPS appropriate art. This means events, parties, establishments and special locations can be branded with fun user-created content. The problem is the cost can get out of control in a hurry. Starting at $5, a filter will last eight hours, cover only a small portion of the screen, and cover a half-acre. Change any of those variables and prices skyrocket. You could easily spend more than $500,000.

Millennials are certainly an attractive demographic, but weighed against the mix of cost, reach and transitory messaging, the allure of Snapchat may not exactly make business sense. No one said being cool is cheap.


Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. Follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.

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