Snapchat engagement and other myths

Screenshot 2016-05-04 09.24.56

By Mark Schaefer

I have been absorbing as much as I can about Snapchat and its potential for businesses. The more I learn, the more I’m convinced it will probably not rise above a niche role for brand marketing … and that Snapchat may want to keep it that way!

The strong business case for Snapchat I keep hearing over and over again is that “engagement is through the roof.” Finally, we have a social channel that is really focused on connecting and authentic conversation. But is that true?

Engagement happens in the quietest places

I attended a panel discussion featuring Snapchat stars at Social Media Marketing World and here was an off-hand comment from that panel that should have sent a chill through the room: “My followers on Snapchat have been increasing a lot, but my engagement hasn’t.”

I don’t know who said this because the room was so full I was sitting on the floor and could not see anything. But it was stated by somebody undoubtedly important and influential in the Snapchat world.

Here’s why that comment is significant. What he is saying is that high engagement is not sustainable on a large scale, something we all know by now. The same “content shock” principle applies with Snapchat and every other attention-based platform — when the amount of content goes up, so does the competition for attention. If the amount of content skyrockets, and our attention span is finite, something has to give.

Even in my little Snapchat experimental world, I already have access to so many stories, that I’m ready for them to be over. OK, I see you with a clown nose. Great, I see you eating your hamburger today. Yippee, you’re drinking beer with friends. You’re walking through a mall. When can this be over please?

If I was following just five people, this might be manageable. But as more people climb aboard, I feel obligated to follow these people back, and that’s when it starts to get overwhelming. I can only take so many hamburger movies in a day. That’s what content shock is all about. To earn my sustained attention, you are going to have to provide content that is through the roof entertaining, every day … Just like Facebook, YouTube and every other saturated channel. And that’s not easy.

Faking Snapchat engagement

The point is, the high engagement levels we see today are not sustainable on Snapchat and cannot be considered a long-term business enticement. This may seem like a radical prediction given the state of guru hype out there, but it’s not. It’s simple economics.

In any human, business, or natural system, when supply goes up, and demand remains constant (our attention), the economics must shift. Snapchat engagement will inevitably suffer from its own popularity. It’s already happening.

Another point for marketers to consider is that it is now possible to fake engagement on Snapchat, so the engagement levels we see being reported may not even be real.

In this short and entertaining video, Keenan Erwin explains how bots can help fake engagement and how third party apps like Ghostcodes may debilitate Snapchat and create a Twitter-like firehose. He also explains how Snapchat needs to prevent this to survive. (H/T to Patrick Kitchell on the video).

Click here if you can’t see this video to view on YouTube: Snapchat engagement

The rest of the story

Some other points about Snapchat emphasized at Social Media Marketing World:

“Snapchat makes you more human.” No technological platform makes you more human. If your company does not come across as human on Facebook or Twitter, you’re not going to be human on Snapchat, either.

“Snapchat is a great platform for storytelling.” No it’s not. Telling “stories” in 10 second chunks sucks. Now, some people are gifted at this. But telling compelling stories in 10-second chapters is a rare skill. If you really want to tell a story, why not do a live stream or make a YouTube video? I would maintain that brand storytelling on Snapchat is the high-wire act of marketing today. One media company is building a “Snapchat studio” to handle this.

“Snapchat is the next big thing.” Snapchat is significant because there is a high emotional connection between 18-24’s and the platform. That value cannot be underestimated! But we also need to remember that there is no major patented user feature on Snapchat that Facebook and other competitors can’t copy and improve on (and they are). There are something like 150 million active users on Snapchat and 1.9 BILLION combined active users on the two Facebook apps WhatsApp and Messenger. In the war between Facebook and Snapchat, who would you bet on? Can “emotional connection” outlast the overwhelming firepower of Facebook? We’ll soon find out.

The other significant issue is that Facebook has Snapchat boxed-in. As Facebook “Snapifies” its assets like Instagram, it precludes Snapchat from international growth, where WhatsApp and Instagram are already popular. Snapchat could become a niche play with slow user growth like Twitter.

“Snapchat will re-invent the community manager.” This was a point made to me by my friend Carlos Gil and I believe he is correct. Many of the traditional duties of a community manager are being consumed by marketing automation software. But to represent a brand on Snapchat … well, there’s no substitute for being a hipster human. The whole livestream/Snapchat trend could enhance the jobs of many community managers.

Snapchat is awesome. But not for every business.

I want to conclude with an important point. Snapchat is awesome. It is what social media was meant to be: raw, fun, personal, an expression of joy and creativity.

  • As I wrote in recent posts, Snapchat is a MUST for large brands with deep creative pockets trying to reach young people. This is where the customers are, and this is where you need to be. Figure it out, find an influencer, pay to be an advertiser. Do what you need to do to be there.
  • There is also probably a niche play for some small businesses with the right Snapchat attitude and employees who can pull off that content high-wire act.
  • It’s a great place to build a personal brand, if Snapchat fame is something you seek.
  • The overall trend toward private versus social networks is a huge trend (and my money is on Facebook Messenger and their bots).

But overall, I don’t think most businesses are equipped to succeed in the quirky and ephemeral world of Snapchat.

I am currently working with a Fortune 100 company that wants to be cool enough to attract hip new employees. It is a company with a huge HR department, a massive PR group, hundreds of staff lawyers, and thick rulebooks about content approvals and brand identity. Nearly all of their content is farmed out to global ad agencies. They really need to be on Snapchat. I have no idea how they can do it with that kind of bureaucracy. And many companies have that kind of bureaucracy.

As I was enjoying my floor view at SMMW, I was sitting next to a guy from a large agency. I asked him how he planned to bring his customers into the Snapchat world. “I have no idea,” he said.

I know this post goes against the grain of conventional social media wisdom, but I also went against the grain when I predicted Google Plus would not go mainstream the first week it was introduced. I said we would not be having a Quorgasm after techno-guru Robert Scoble predicted Quora would replace blogging, and I said to forget about QR codes when people were enthusiastically slapping them on everything in sight.

Snapchat owns the hearts and minds of the 18-24 demographic and that is significant, but it will be very difficult for most businesses to access them in a consistent and meaningful way because the barriers to entry — consistently quirky content — are so high, and the opportunities to advertise so limited and expensive.

Your thoughts are welcomed … especially if you disagree!

 

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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  • Beware the shiny new thing! A few years back a very influential social media “guru” announced he was shutting down his blog and was planning to post only on Google+.

  • Beware the shiny new thing! A few years back a very influential social media “guru” announced he was shutting down his blog and was planning to post only on Google+.

  • Jennifer Porter

    Thank you for this honest assessment on Snapchat’s effectiveness for business use. Being a small independent social media consultant I have the luxury of experimenting with platforms in a way that most large companies do not. My feelings about Snapchat are mixed, especially for corporations concerned with their brand. It may have a greater impact in smaller markets in which the company already caters to this age group exclusively.

  • Jennifer Porter

    Thank you for this honest assessment on Snapchat’s effectiveness for business use. Being a small independent social media consultant I have the luxury of experimenting with platforms in a way that most large companies do not. My feelings about Snapchat are mixed, especially for corporations concerned with their brand. It may have a greater impact in smaller markets in which the company already caters to this age group exclusively.

  • Great article,
    It is a really good platform but it’s sad to learn that some people (again) found a way to fake their popularity , this is one of the main factors that changes the way we see them.

  • madaku

    Great article,
    It is a really good platform but it’s sad to learn that some people (again) found a way to fake their popularity , this is one of the main factors that changes the way we see them.

  • We need to be critical thinkers, to be sure : )

  • We need to be critical thinkers, to be sure : )

  • Good observation Jennifer. Thanks for commenting.

  • Good observation Jennifer. Thanks for commenting.

  • Where corruption can occur, corruption WILL occur, unfortunately.

  • Where corruption can occur, corruption WILL occur, unfortunately.

  • Got to agree with you on this one, Mark. Watch what all those Snapchat experts on the SMMW panel are doing on Snapchat. They’re all attractive young hipsters, being attractive young hipsters. Of course they’re popular! But is what they’re doing transferrable to most businesses? And even if it were, would it have any discernible value for those businesses?

    You’re correct that for certain consumer brands, Snapchat could be gold. But I think that’s as far as it goes.

    Interesting though to have heard Gary Vaynerchuk’s defense of his rapid-fire early adoption of things like Snapchat in his SMMW keynote conversation. He readily admitted that he has a churn and burn strategy. Try to hop on to the Next Big Thing early enough to suck whatever value he can get out of it and then don’t cry over spilt milk when it dies. Take your audience with you to the Next Next Big Thing.

    Works for guys like him, but most businesses can’t sustain that amount of hyperactivity.

  • Got to agree with you on this one, Mark. Watch what all those Snapchat experts on the SMMW panel are doing on Snapchat. They’re all attractive young hipsters, being attractive young hipsters. Of course they’re popular! But is what they’re doing transferrable to most businesses? And even if it were, would it have any discernible value for those businesses?

    You’re correct that for certain consumer brands, Snapchat could be gold. But I think that’s as far as it goes.

    Interesting though to have heard Gary Vaynerchuk’s defense of his rapid-fire early adoption of things like Snapchat in his SMMW keynote conversation. He readily admitted that he has a churn and burn strategy. Try to hop on to the Next Big Thing early enough to suck whatever value he can get out of it and then don’t cry over spilt milk when it dies. Take your audience with you to the Next Next Big Thing.

    Works for guys like him, but most businesses can’t sustain that amount of hyperactivity.

  • Steve Woodruff

    Platforms may be popular (for a season), and audiences (of some sort) may exist and grow on certain platforms, but that definitely does not NECESSARILY make them appropriate for marketing efforts – and certainly not for all/any types of brands. Maybe our friend Tom Webster can do a better job quantifying this statistically, but just how many social media tools have ended up in the fad category? 95%? And how many of the remaining 5% have demonstrated reliable ability to convert noise and reach into paying customers? My knuckles remain dragging on the ground as I continue to see the gold old prehistoric e-mail, and in some cases simple texting, seems to be where the proven performance over time remains!

  • Steve Woodruff

    Platforms may be popular (for a season), and audiences (of some sort) may exist and grow on certain platforms, but that definitely does not NECESSARILY make them appropriate for marketing efforts – and certainly not for all/any types of brands. Maybe our friend Tom Webster can do a better job quantifying this statistically, but just how many social media tools have ended up in the fad category? 95%? And how many of the remaining 5% have demonstrated reliable ability to convert noise and reach into paying customers? My knuckles remain dragging on the ground as I continue to see the gold old prehistoric e-mail, and in some cases simple texting, seems to be where the proven performance over time remains!

  • The best SnapChat blog post until today has to be written by… you know who!

    Everytime a new social platform emerges in the way SnapChat has done, I get excited about it: thanks Mark for the “reality bites” lesson made here.

    I have used SnapChat for a while, and I agree with you that there other platforms where the “connection” and “engagement” are higher.

    For example, for me Periscope works way much better in these aspects.

    But for me something is clear: live-streaming and video are here to stay, and the “global audience” love to consume this kind of content.

    Best from Spain!

    P. S.- This weekend I participate in a marketing conference where we are trying to get the Guinness world record for the longest online conference ever: more than 80 speakers, more than 50 hours of streamed video via YouTube… And you know what?
    Nobody is going to speak about SnapChat, and the only person who will speak about live-streaming is going to be me!

  • The best SnapChat blog post until today has to be written by… you know who!

    Everytime a new social platform emerges in the way SnapChat has done, I get excited about it: thanks Mark for the “reality bites” lesson made here.

    I have used SnapChat for a while, and I agree with you that there other platforms where the “connection” and “engagement” are higher.

    For example, for me Periscope works way much better in these aspects.

    But for me something is clear: live-streaming and video are here to stay, and the “global audience” love to consume this kind of content.

    Best from Spain!

    P. S.- This weekend I participate in a marketing conference where we are trying to get the Guinness world record for the longest online conference ever: more than 80 speakers, more than 50 hours of streamed video via YouTube… And you know what?
    Nobody is going to speak about SnapChat, and the only person who will speak about live-streaming is going to be me!

  • That’s true for EVERYTHING!

  • That’s true for EVERYTHING!

  • Michele Wolfson

    Wow, once again great insights. I agree ,it will definitely serve the niche market of youngsters. Our teens in the house use it to poke their friends with funny snippets of their daily activities. Given the time sensitivity of posted information and the quick view and pivots that occurs with followers it’s entertaining at best. But very little value is created. The only play I see for businesses targeting the 18-24 niche is a 10 second teaser analogous to a Headline to keep longer engagement. Thanks Mark for your viewpoints!

  • Michele Wolfson

    Wow, once again great insights. I agree ,it will definitely serve the niche market of youngsters. Our teens in the house use it to poke their friends with funny snippets of their daily activities. Given the time sensitivity of posted information and the quick view and pivots that occurs with followers it’s entertaining at best. But very little value is created. The only play I see for businesses targeting the 18-24 niche is a 10 second teaser analogous to a Headline to keep longer engagement. Thanks Mark for your viewpoints!

  • Stephen L. Hoops

    Mark, it’s gross how amazingly spot on you are with some of your insights. Personally, I think Ghostcodes is just a terrible idea. If their goal is to cheapen Snapchat down to a frivolous popularity contest, Ghostcodes definitely succeeds at that.

  • Stephen L. Hoops

    Mark, it’s gross how amazingly spot on you are with some of your insights. Personally, I think Ghostcodes is just a terrible idea. If their goal is to cheapen Snapchat down to a frivolous popularity contest, Ghostcodes definitely succeeds at that.

  • Yes, exactly.

  • Yes, exactly.

  • As I said, the thing that is significant here is that there is an emotional connection between Snapchat and its fans. You can’t underestimate that. It’s important. And it may evolve to be something more, especially as Snapchat lovers take over marketing departments. Like Twitter, I think its usefulness will evolve as people get creative with it. Always honored to have you comment sir. Thank you.

  • As I said, the thing that is significant here is that there is an emotional connection between Snapchat and its fans. You can’t underestimate that. It’s important. And it may evolve to be something more, especially as Snapchat lovers take over marketing departments. Like Twitter, I think its usefulness will evolve as people get creative with it. Always honored to have you comment sir. Thank you.

  • I addressed this in my recent SMMW talk. Some of the shiny red balls of recent years: Meerkat, Ello, Path, Quora, Foursquare, QR codes. They all have a place but non have made it to mainstream. Fact is, tactics change quickly, platforms change slowly. Will Snapchat make mainstream? I think it will, and perhaps already has for many brands.

  • I addressed this in my recent SMMW talk. Some of the shiny red balls of recent years: Meerkat, Ello, Path, Quora, Foursquare, QR codes. They all have a place but non have made it to mainstream. Fact is, tactics change quickly, platforms change slowly. Will Snapchat make mainstream? I think it will, and perhaps already has for many brands.

  • Interesting. Look forward to hearing about that and thank you for your kind compliments!

  • Interesting. Look forward to hearing about that and thank you for your kind compliments!

  • CNN is actually doing this well. They provide a “Snapchat headline” and a link to longer content. Very well done.

  • CNN is actually doing this well. They provide a “Snapchat headline” and a link to longer content. Very well done.

  • Quite a fascinating development isn’t it? Similar thing happened with Twitter — third party apps were using Twitter’s API and data for all kinds of things that perverted the platform. Twitter finally had to reign it in. Same thing will undoubtedly happen with Snapchat and they will have to bring down the hammer at some point.

  • Quite a fascinating development isn’t it? Similar thing happened with Twitter — third party apps were using Twitter’s API and data for all kinds of things that perverted the platform. Twitter finally had to reign it in. Same thing will undoubtedly happen with Snapchat and they will have to bring down the hammer at some point.

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  • LOL you called me Sir. Now i KNOW I’m too old for Snapchat! 😉

  • LOL you called me Sir. Now i KNOW I’m too old for Snapchat! 😉

  • Mary Alice McMorrow

    Completely agree that big Brands seeking younger consumers must be on Snapchat. To the question how “to bring his customers into the Snapchat world” – I think too many marketers are forgetting the Day 1 lesson we learned at P&G….you are not the target consumer, but it is your job to seek to understand the very consumer you are trying to reach.

  • Mary Alice McMorrow

    Completely agree that big Brands seeking younger consumers must be on Snapchat. To the question how “to bring his customers into the Snapchat world” – I think too many marketers are forgetting the Day 1 lesson we learned at P&G….you are not the target consumer, but it is your job to seek to understand the very consumer you are trying to reach.

  • Austin Iuliano

    Mark I love your point of view on this. I have personally noticed tons of new “followers” on Snapchat also and very little real engagement. My Snapchat account is full of people who make a lot of noise and nothing else. I wish we could go back to the days of truly deep relationships that have formed. Maybe it is time for a purge of Snapchat accounts!

  • Austin Iuliano

    Mark I love your point of view on this. I have personally noticed tons of new “followers” on Snapchat also and very little real engagement. My Snapchat account is full of people who make a lot of noise and nothing else. I wish we could go back to the days of truly deep relationships that have formed. Maybe it is time for a purge of Snapchat accounts!

  • Yes … but maybe two different questions. Understanding is one thing, creating relevance is another. This is a difficult channel, and it is probably meant to be. Once grandma goes on Snapchat it’s dead.

  • Yes … but maybe two different questions. Understanding is one thing, creating relevance is another. This is a difficult channel, and it is probably meant to be. Once grandma goes on Snapchat it’s dead.

  • Evolution, not revolution, isn’t it? Thanks for your comment Austin.

  • Evolution, not revolution, isn’t it? Thanks for your comment Austin.

  • All excellent points. I agree on all fronts. Especially the “it makes you more human.” No, no it doesn’t. And that doesn’t even make sense. Great post Mark.

  • All excellent points. I agree on all fronts. Especially the “it makes you more human.” No, no it doesn’t. And that doesn’t even make sense. Great post Mark.

  • Great post! Makes me feel better about not really being on the network. Like you said, great for some but not for everybody.

    Also, still chuckling at “Quorgasm” 🙂

  • Great post! Makes me feel better about not really being on the network. Like you said, great for some but not for everybody.

    Also, still chuckling at “Quorgasm” 🙂

  • Mark, I’m really glad you took the time and energy to write this post.

    While I certainly agree that Community Manager roles are affected each time a new/’hot’ channel appears for their appropriate clients, your basis for this is a bit off, in my opinion, because, well, I just am not a proponent of automating relationship building.

    I’m old-school, so everything we touch as Community Managers is still very hands-on….as in digitally shaking hands, looking people in the eyes, saying hello, please, thank you (especially thank you), and without using bullshit automated software that is so obvious/spammy, it makes me want to hurl (which is why I got “stuck” on your comment here – and in the scheme of your entire piece, it’s not the over-arching cornerstone, so I realize I’m likely overthinking it).

    Is Snapchat helping “to re-invent” the role of the Community Manager? Of course, if the brand is a fit for the platform, just like any other social channel.
    Can using this new tool “enhance the jobs of many community mangers”? Absolutely, given the proper positioning and application, as you so aptly recommend here….

    I don’t consider myself clever or quirky enough to “sell” my personal brand on Snapchat and I’m not the “preachy” type, so you won’t see me doing that ‘pulpit’ stuff, with my face, larger-than-life, in the view finder. And, for each of my clients, I am constantly assessing the viability of various channels for their target markets (I work mostly with SMBs). So it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that we may implement Snapchat for certain clients at any given time.
    For now, I’m having fun getting to know people a little more up-close-and-personal…i think it’s super fun to watch people’s stories when i have an extra 5 minutes here and there. And, like my nieces and nephews, i love playing with the filters when i’m hanging out bored. But that’s not often.

    Bottom line is that i really appreciate your post and I’m going to be sharing it. Hope all is well in your world.

  • Mark, I’m really glad you took the time and energy to write this post.

    While I certainly agree that Community Manager roles are affected each time a new/’hot’ channel appears for their appropriate clients, your basis for this is a bit off, in my opinion, because, well, I just am not a proponent of automating relationship building.

    I’m old-school, so everything we touch as Community Managers is still very hands-on….as in digitally shaking hands, looking people in the eyes, saying hello, please, thank you (especially thank you), and without using bullshit automated software that is so obvious/spammy, it makes me want to hurl (which is why I got “stuck” on your comment here – and in the scheme of your entire piece, it’s not the over-arching cornerstone, so I realize I’m likely overthinking it).

    Is Snapchat helping “to re-invent” the role of the Community Manager? Of course, if the brand is a fit for the platform, just like any other social channel.
    Can using this new tool “enhance the jobs of many community mangers”? Absolutely, given the proper positioning and application, as you so aptly recommend here….

    I don’t consider myself clever or quirky enough to “sell” my personal brand on Snapchat and I’m not the “preachy” type, so you won’t see me doing that ‘pulpit’ stuff, with my face, larger-than-life, in the view finder. And, for each of my clients, I am constantly assessing the viability of various channels for their target markets (I work mostly with SMBs). So it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that we may implement Snapchat for certain clients at any given time.
    For now, I’m having fun getting to know people a little more up-close-and-personal…i think it’s super fun to watch people’s stories when i have an extra 5 minutes here and there. And, like my nieces and nephews, i love playing with the filters when i’m hanging out bored. But that’s not often.

    Bottom line is that i really appreciate your post and I’m going to be sharing it. Hope all is well in your world.

  • yep. EVERY thing can be gamed. no surprise there. 😉

  • yep. EVERY thing can be gamed. no surprise there. 😉

  • I call most guys sir. Just a sign of respect and gratitude.

  • I call most guys sir. Just a sign of respect and gratitude.

  • Thanks Jeff. Appreciate the comment.

  • Thanks Jeff. Appreciate the comment.

  • My best headline ever. Was just looking for an opportunity to use that one again!

  • My best headline ever. Was just looking for an opportunity to use that one again!

  • Thanks for your thoughtful and passionate comment. I’m with you all the way on this but a lesson I learned a long time ago is that I need to listen to my head (the bots are coming) versus my heart (I don’t want the bots to come). When bots get to the point where they are 75% as good as a real person, we’ll see companies flying in that direction, for better or for worse.

  • Thanks for your thoughtful and passionate comment. I’m with you all the way on this but a lesson I learned a long time ago is that I need to listen to my head (the bots are coming) versus my heart (I don’t want the bots to come). When bots get to the point where they are 75% as good as a real person, we’ll see companies flying in that direction, for better or for worse.

  • yes, i’m with you on that. i get it. we’ll see how that all looks when the time comes. for now, i work longer hours, which don’t really seem like work, because it’s still my version of “pure social” – i envision the wise ones like Zig Ziglar and Dale Carnegie using the tools today, and that’s how i ‘hope’ to emulate in the way we represent clients as well. a girl can dream….. hahahaha! 😉

  • yes, i’m with you on that. i get it. we’ll see how that all looks when the time comes. for now, i work longer hours, which don’t really seem like work, because it’s still my version of “pure social” – i envision the wise ones like Zig Ziglar and Dale Carnegie using the tools today, and that’s how i ‘hope’ to emulate in the way we represent clients as well. a girl can dream….. hahahaha! 😉

  • nice

  • nice

  • denmark98

    Mark, really enjoyed your article(thanks for the mention). I am glad that you didn’t just shoot from the hip without testing the tool or making blank statements about snapchat, probably your professor side at work. I think that you are spot on with what you say, it is an awesome tool, companies that have budget to experiment would find snapchat a great place to engage, the whitehouse uses it regularly for example.

    Your content shock” principle is important for others to understand for the economics of content and engagement going forward. We are bounded rational and having limited time and the limited knowledge capacity we can only do so much. Therefore to bridge this gap we turn to automation which diminishes our authenticity a vicious cycle. Automation has suffocated the engagement out of twitter where it becomes a broadcast only tool and I feel the same is true with snapchat. Yes you can engage with people but if you have tons of followers/followings you can’t manage it as it doesn’t scale leaving you with a broadcast only tool.

    I am sure snapchat hates the automation of ghost codes and will do something to reign in automation as they don’t want to become like the others, which is probably inevitable.

    Patrick Kitchell
    twitter: @denmark98

  • denmark98

    Mark, really enjoyed your article(thanks for the mention). I am glad that you didn’t just shoot from the hip without testing the tool or making blank statements about snapchat, probably your professor side at work. I think that you are spot on with what you say, it is an awesome tool, companies that have budget to experiment would find snapchat a great place to engage, the whitehouse uses it regularly for example.

    Your content shock” principle is important for others to understand for the economics of content and engagement going forward. We are bounded rational and having limited time and the limited knowledge capacity we can only do so much. Therefore to bridge this gap we turn to automation which diminishes our authenticity a vicious cycle. Automation has suffocated the engagement out of twitter where it becomes a broadcast only tool and I feel the same is true with snapchat. Yes you can engage with people but if you have tons of followers/followings you can’t manage it as it doesn’t scale leaving you with a broadcast only tool.

    I am sure snapchat hates the automation of ghost codes and will do something to reign in automation as they don’t want to become like the others, which is probably inevitable.

    Patrick Kitchell
    twitter: @denmark98

  • Finola Howard

    Most succinct analysis of Snapchat I’ve seen or read – thanks Mark 🙂

  • Finola Howard

    Most succinct analysis of Snapchat I’ve seen or read – thanks Mark 🙂

  • A great post another point I think is interesting is how people/consumers on the platform use your GEO-filters because unfortunately you cannot control them. You could create an excellent geo-filter for a music event and someone could use it to highlight drug use for example and this could harm your brand. I am sure some brands will thrive in the Snapchat space but tracking it and staying cool are two big challenges. Engagement doesn’t necessarily mean your brand is going to sell more widgets which is a common misconception I come across. Great article.

  • A great post another point I think is interesting is how people/consumers on the platform use your GEO-filters because unfortunately you cannot control them. You could create an excellent geo-filter for a music event and someone could use it to highlight drug use for example and this could harm your brand. I am sure some brands will thrive in the Snapchat space but tracking it and staying cool are two big challenges. Engagement doesn’t necessarily mean your brand is going to sell more widgets which is a common misconception I come across. Great article.

  • Hey thanks so much for the feature, Mark!

    Agreed about Snapchat not being for everyone – mostly 🙂 In fact, I talked about this very thing yesterday on my story before I read this (promise I did).

    On your point about creating content that is “through the roof entertaining, every day”, there really is a marked difference between those who have displaced the ultimate rule of “content is king” with “I need to post every day, no matter what”. All that to say, it’s far better to post high-quality content intermittently vs. posting high-quality content with pockets of mediocrity. It needs to be 100% great content, every time.

    The reason of course is the supply/demand of the content/attention piece you mentioned. With Snapchat growing so rapidly, and since Snapchat commands 100% of my attention (vs Twitter, where I can quickly scan) a brand really cannot afford to post a bad story. If they do that person will, at least subconsciously, mark them as a bad storyteller and simply swipe away the next time their story comes up.

    I have more to say about the effectiveness of Snapchat geofilters, and the geofilter I ran for Justin Bieber to test that point. There’s so much more to say on that. Great article, and thank you again, Mark.

  • Thanks for the kind words and observations Patrick. I have come to learn that Content Shock is not really a trend, it’s a cycle, repeating every time a new channel begins to get popular and populated with increasing amounts of content. It’s something every channel and marketer should consider.

  • You’re welcome Finola. Always a pleasure to hear from you!

  • Thanks for the kind words and observations Patrick. I have come to learn that Content Shock is not really a trend, it’s a cycle, repeating every time a new channel begins to get popular and populated with increasing amounts of content. It’s something every channel and marketer should consider.

  • You’re welcome Finola. Always a pleasure to hear from you!

  • A very keen point Chris. I can go both ways on geo filters. It could be a fairly inexpensive way for people to interact with your brand (McDonalds doing a good job here) or it could be a source of viral embarassment. Interesting potential but you need to think it through.

  • A very keen point Chris. I can go both ways on geo filters. It could be a fairly inexpensive way for people to interact with your brand (McDonalds doing a good job here) or it could be a source of viral embarassment. Interesting potential but you need to think it through.

  • Hey thanks so much for the feature, Mark!

    Agreed about Snapchat not being for everyone – mostly 🙂 In fact, I talked about this very thing yesterday on my story before I read this (promise I did).

    On your point about creating content that is “through the roof entertaining, every day”, there really is a marked difference between those who have displaced the ultimate rule of “content is king” with “I need to post every day, no matter what”. All that to say, it’s far better to post high-quality content intermittently vs. posting high-quality content with pockets of mediocrity. It needs to be 100% great content, every time.

    The reason of course is the supply/demand of the content/attention piece you mentioned. With Snapchat growing so rapidly, and since Snapchat commands 100% of my attention (vs Twitter, where I can quickly scan) a brand really cannot afford to post a bad story. If they do that person will, at least subconsciously, mark them as a bad storyteller and simply swipe away the next time their story comes up.

    I have more to say about the effectiveness of Snapchat geofilters, and the geofilter I ran for Justin Bieber to test that point. There’s so much more to say on that.

  • Hey thanks so much for the feature, Mark!

    Agreed about Snapchat not being for everyone – mostly 🙂 In fact, I talked about this very thing yesterday on my story before I read this (promise I did).

    On your point about creating content that is “through the roof entertaining, every day”, there really is a marked difference between those who have displaced the ultimate rule of “content is king” with “I need to post every day, no matter what”. All that to say, it’s far better to post high-quality content intermittently vs. posting high-quality content with pockets of mediocrity. It needs to be 100% great content, every time.

    The reason of course is the supply/demand of the content/attention piece you mentioned. With Snapchat growing so rapidly, and since Snapchat commands 100% of my attention (vs Twitter, where I can quickly scan) a brand really cannot afford to post a bad story. If they do that person will, at least subconsciously, mark them as a bad storyteller and simply swipe away the next time their story comes up.

    I have more to say about the effectiveness of Snapchat geofilters, and the geofilter I ran for Justin Bieber to test that point. There’s so much more to say on that.

  • Chris Kubbernus

    Great points Mark. I think it’s ultra important to look critically at Snapchat and any platform for that matter to see if it makes sense for your business and brand. I have personally also seen my follower numbers increase dramatically but engagement stay the same. It’s a similar plateau I’ve seen on many social channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I wouldn’t be too alarmist about it though because I believe that most can break through the plateau and come out on the other side with more gains, just like I’ve done on all other platforms. I think story telling is hard on Snapchat, but just as hard on YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram. Attention rates are ridiculously low, and because of all the noise, getting people’s attention is difficult – doesn’t matter if it’s YouTube, Snapchat or anything else.

  • Chris Kubbernus

    Great points Mark. I think it’s ultra important to look critically at Snapchat and any platform for that matter to see if it makes sense for your business and brand. I have personally also seen my follower numbers increase dramatically but engagement stay the same. It’s a similar plateau I’ve seen on many social channels – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I wouldn’t be too alarmist about it though because I believe that most can break through the plateau and come out on the other side with more gains, just like I’ve done on all other platforms. I think story telling is hard on Snapchat, but just as hard on YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram. Attention rates are ridiculously low, and because of all the noise, getting people’s attention is difficult – doesn’t matter if it’s YouTube, Snapchat or anything else.

  • Thanks so much. Agree 100 percent and look forward to learning more about your views of geofilters.

  • Thanks so much. Agree 100 percent and look forward to learning more about your views of geofilters.

  • Well said and I agree with the potential here. I think we will see a ton of user-generated innovation here as we did on Twitter. I don’t think we totally know the power of Snapchat yet.

  • Well said and I agree with the potential here. I think we will see a ton of user-generated innovation here as we did on Twitter. I don’t think we totally know the power of Snapchat yet.

  • denmark98

    I understand what you are saying by being a cycle compared to just a trend but don’t you think new players like snapchat enter with shorter cycles becuase of the saturation level that pre exists? Who has time for new channels if old ones don’t die or become irrelevant

  • denmark98

    I understand what you are saying by being a cycle compared to just a trend but don’t you think new players like snapchat enter with shorter cycles becuase of the saturation level that pre exists? Who has time for new channels if old ones don’t die or become irrelevant

  • Todd Sledzik

    No question Snapchat offers great visual storytelling functionality. Except, aren’t Instagram videos getting less engagement than images, for exactly the reasons you’ve (Mark) presented? How’s Vine’s growth these days? So the mold, called “shock,” saturation or otherwise, is already cast. You have to be a “star” to get people to care about you for more than 1 sec (as they scroll by) with any consistency. Most Vine and Snapchat stars are smart about being entertaining as hell. Most brands can’t recreate that. Not in a way that’s meaningful to their bottom line.

  • Todd Sledzik

    No question Snapchat offers great visual storytelling functionality. Except, aren’t Instagram videos getting less engagement than images, for exactly the reasons you’ve (Mark) presented? How’s Vine’s growth these days? So the mold, called “shock,” saturation or otherwise, is already cast. You have to be a “star” to get people to care about you for more than 1 sec (as they scroll by) with any consistency. Most Vine and Snapchat stars are smart about being entertaining as hell. Most brands can’t recreate that. Not in a way that’s meaningful to their bottom line.

  • Interesting point.

  • Interesting point.

  • Here’s the difference I think. Vine, Instagram, etc. are social networks. We have learned that we need to build large networks and maintain them with content. Basically we’re on a drug. Snapchat, isn’t a social network. It’s a messaging service. We’re carrying the bad habits we learned from social and trying to carry them onto a private messaging service. Not going to work, in my humble opinion. It really requires a new strategy.

  • Here’s the difference I think. Vine, Instagram, etc. are social networks. We have learned that we need to build large networks and maintain them with content. Basically we’re on a drug. Snapchat, isn’t a social network. It’s a messaging service. We’re carrying the bad habits we learned from social and trying to carry them onto a private messaging service. Not going to work, in my humble opinion. It really requires a new strategy.

  • Hi Mark

    I have been saying this for a few months. What is really happening is a new paid media platform vs a social platform. Snapchat for Brands is hard because posts have to be real time. The one good attribute for brands vs users is now when you watch updates it is one long montage so users will see a brand post most likely even if they don’t want to. The problem is watching something is not engagement. No one replies to brands on snapchat and the messaging module erases messages so you can’t conduct real business and sometimes they don’t show up at all.

    I followed Gary Vee….then unfollowed him. Why? Seeing him throw FBombs in cabs while traveling is boring. My best friend doing this? Awesome. Watching DJ Khaled eat breakfast? Boring. Unfollowed him.

    I follow a friends Band they use it great (The Glitch Mob). Tony Hawk? awesome. Billabong? Boring. Vans? Not using it.

    What I have seen over the last two years is if you take the top 100 names in social media most have zero engagement on Twitter now and their blogs have so many fewer readers. They are all chasing a time when people had no jobs and lots of time and were doing everything to find work including trying to learn magic from many people who wound up lucky in the first wave of social (Bryan Kramer, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan etc). Social Media it turns out can’t drive sales for big companies (unscalable if you have 10’s to 100’s millions of customers). Also people talk to brands less now. Ben and Jerry’s gets maybe 300 interactions a day yet they make 120k pints a day. And if business is good and social not so good…who cares about social.

    Facebook is dead for big brands aside from paid media (when Coke and Dove go months between posts sometimes….it is dead). Instagram is hokie, Twitter in stasis.

    So these people are desperate to keep their businesses going and are doing anything from lying about follower numbers (Guy Kawasaki) to jumping on Snapchat (Ted Rubin, Bryan Kramer are good examples).
    (Live streaming too!). I see most of them gone from the scene in 2-3 years. If I don’t want you calling me on my phone…or sending me a personal SMS chances are I don’t want to connect on Snapchat.

    That said the niche! For the travel and event industry those montages are awesome. But expensive to set up and takes a ton of effort to get participation. The media spaces are great. Had publishing been like that on desktop in 2000 maybe the print media industry wouldnt of crashed and downsized. Best mixed media format I have found so far,

    So this is just the social media bubble and let the sharks all feed on themselves because the rest of the world doesn’t care. Having someone watch a 30 sec spot if you can get them to….is still the most powerful advertising and marketing channel we have contrary to the talking heads in social. Adwords still destroys content marketing for speed and ROI. And offline WOM blows away everything by several magnitudes. So that is where we are. Great post cheers.

  • Hi Mark

    I have been saying this for a few months. What is really happening is a new paid media platform vs a social platform. Snapchat for Brands is hard because posts have to be real time. The one good attribute for brands vs users is now when you watch updates it is one long montage so users will see a brand post most likely even if they don’t want to. The problem is watching something is not engagement. No one replies to brands on snapchat and the messaging module erases messages so you can’t conduct real business and sometimes they don’t show up at all.

    I followed Gary Vee….then unfollowed him. Why? Seeing him throw FBombs in cabs while traveling is boring. My best friend doing this? Awesome. Watching DJ Khaled eat breakfast? Boring. Unfollowed him.

    I follow a friends Band they use it great (The Glitch Mob). Tony Hawk? awesome. Billabong? Boring. Vans? Not using it.

    What I have seen over the last two years is if you take the top 100 names in social media most have zero engagement on Twitter now and their blogs have so many fewer readers. They are all chasing a time when people had no jobs and lots of time and were doing everything to find work including trying to learn magic from many people who wound up lucky in the first wave of social (Bryan Kramer, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan etc). Social Media it turns out can’t drive sales for big companies (unscalable if you have 10’s to 100’s millions of customers). Also people talk to brands less now. Ben and Jerry’s gets maybe 300 interactions a day yet they make 120k pints a day. And if business is good and social not so good…who cares about social.

    Facebook is dead for big brands aside from paid media (when Coke and Dove go months between posts sometimes….it is dead). Instagram is hokie, Twitter in stasis.

    So these people are desperate to keep their businesses going and are doing anything from lying about follower numbers (Guy Kawasaki) to jumping on Snapchat (Ted Rubin, Bryan Kramer are good examples).
    (Live streaming too!). I see most of them gone from the scene in 2-3 years. If I don’t want you calling me on my phone…or sending me a personal SMS chances are I don’t want to connect on Snapchat.

    That said the niche! For the travel and event industry those montages are awesome. But expensive to set up and takes a ton of effort to get participation. The media spaces are great. Had publishing been like that on desktop in 2000 maybe the print media industry wouldnt of crashed and downsized. Best mixed media format I have found so far,

    So this is just the social media bubble and let the sharks all feed on themselves because the rest of the world doesn’t care. Having someone watch a 30 sec spot if you can get them to….is still the most powerful advertising and marketing channel we have contrary to the talking heads in social. Adwords still destroys content marketing for speed and ROI. And offline WOM blows away everything by several magnitudes. So that is where we are. Great post cheers.

  • Video is kind of a myth. If you are telling a story like a movie it is great. It is why the 30 sec spot is so strong, If you are going to talk to someone via video…print is 1000% faster to get through. It is why video podcasts haven’t replaced printed blogs. You can read 20 minutes of video talk in 5 minutes. Time is money.

    I find myself…on Instagram I am way more likely to Like a photo there than on Facebook. For Brands I have run accounts for unlike Facebook and even Twitter if you are a local business you will wind up with a higher percentage of non-local followers. I find the engagement very superficial and pithy. But the vanity numbers are great so social media agency side people love it to make it look like there is more happening than there is When Facebook page engagement died and everyone panicked about their work…instagram saved the day…for now.

  • Video is kind of a myth. If you are telling a story like a movie it is great. It is why the 30 sec spot is so strong, If you are going to talk to someone via video…print is 1000% faster to get through. It is why video podcasts haven’t replaced printed blogs. You can read 20 minutes of video talk in 5 minutes. Time is money.

    I find myself…on Instagram I am way more likely to Like a photo there than on Facebook. For Brands I have run accounts for unlike Facebook and even Twitter if you are a local business you will wind up with a higher percentage of non-local followers. I find the engagement very superficial and pithy. But the vanity numbers are great so social media agency side people love it to make it look like there is more happening than there is When Facebook page engagement died and everyone panicked about their work…instagram saved the day…for now.

  • I wish you would tell me what you think Howie. : )

    I do agree there is a dramatic shift going on and thank you for your comment.

  • I wish you would tell me what you think Howie. : )

    I do agree there is a dramatic shift going on and thank you for your comment.

  • I’ve been trying to see the benefit for months and quite frankly I am over it, I wish I wasn’t because I feel I should be excited about it – but I’m just not. So I’m really glad you posted this – I think people need to get real and not just use it because they think its cool to be down with the teens lol

    There are a few quirky people I follow and friends too who its nice to watch but only for a few mins a day – thats all I can take.

  • I’ve been trying to see the benefit for months and quite frankly I am over it, I wish I wasn’t because I feel I should be excited about it – but I’m just not. So I’m really glad you posted this – I think people need to get real and not just use it because they think its cool to be down with the teens lol

    There are a few quirky people I follow and friends too who its nice to watch but only for a few mins a day – thats all I can take.

  • Jennifer Porter

    I felt the same way and was equally excited to learn about Mark’s research.

    Jennifer

  • Jennifer Porter

    I felt the same way and was equally excited to learn about Mark’s research.

    Jennifer

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  • superseiyan

    I disagree that Snapchat is not a good medium for storytelling. You can’t do a documentary or a movie of course, but it can definitely tell the story of day-to-day scenes. It is not the individual 10 second snap, but collating the snaps together that does the job! And of course they can be repurposed and used on Youtube and as part of a bigger story.

    That said, I agree they want to keep their sort of niche status. I get improving U/X and all of that, but i hope Snapchat doesn’t go the way of Twitter i.e. trying to do away witih everything that makes it fun and unique in the first place.

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