Tapping into Snapchat for social sales

By Chris Lee

Shrinking attention spans and the rising popularity of visual-based social media messaging apps are putting increasing pressure on brands to find meaningful ways to engage with digital savvy shoppers. This is the view of Bradley Keenan, founder and CEO of E-Tale, a developer of web-based software that he says helps major manufacturers manage the relationships they hold with their retailer partners.

Keenan believes consumers are challenging brands to become more creative within 140-character tweets, engaging on Facebook, through short videos on Vine or Instagram, or through emerging social media channels such as the “new darling” of the social web, Snapchat.

Snapping up customers

Snapchat launched in 2011, allowing users to send picture and now video messages to one another. The difference to other similar services is that these messages self-destruct, helping users look after their digital footprint and mind their privacy. The service has proven to be a breakthrough, Keenan believes.

Snapchat now processes 200 million messages a day to its five million daily users and in June this year received an investment of $60 million.

“Snapchat isn’t unique. Other services that also bypass the branded page, the type you may see on Facebook and Twitter, still allow for viral word of mouth recommendation,” Keenan told NMK. “They present a new opportunity for brands. To understand how to tap into this opportunity we need to think like a Snapchatting consumer.”

Social grazing

Innovations like Snapchat have created a new, impulsive and graze-based consumer shopping behaviour, according to Keenan.

“When we see something we are drawn to, we send video or picture message our friends and instantly create a word of mouth recommendation,” he said. “The question of whether the recipient saves that thought for later or looks online for the product there and then is one which technology is helping us to answer.”

Keenan believes we are beginning to see is a new kind of social shopping behaviour, driven by the mobile, social Web apps that are growing with Snapchat.

“They create a culture where consumers are constantly impulse-grazing for products, from toiletries to electronics, which are then being saved online in a transferable basket unconfined by retailer or brand,” he added. “Some consumers keep this as a mental list, some write it down on their smartphones, and some go straight online and add a product to a basket that follows them for days and weeks ready for them to buy at a time that suits them.”

For example, Keenan argues, last month Taco Bell tweeted to its followers that is was on Snapchat, urging people to add them for a “secret announcement” which was to go out the same day. This turned out to be a promotion for a new burrito, heralding Taco Bell as one of the first major brands to use Snapchat to reach customers direct.

Keenan concluded: “Promoting deals is one thing though. What excites me as an e-commerce technology man is a new era of innovation that empowers brands to connect with retailers in a more flexible and portable way that reflects the mainstream acknowledgement that social and mobile recommendations are a massive opportunity to capture the consumer in the real world and in the virtual.”

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