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Snapchat’s ‘New Media’ Evolution and What It Means for Brands

snapchat.pngIt’s no secret that Snapchat is rising to become one of the most powerful social media platforms on mobile. The app once described as great for sexting has now evolved into a content studio, a multimedia communication platform, and a media company all rolled into one. And it’s not slowing down any time soon — investors are flocking, and its on track to become a billion-dollar company by 2017.

Recently, Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel sat down with Recode to chat about the company’s three-part business model and what it means for the future of Snapchat.

“Messaging is really the highest-frequency behavior on a phone; makes a lot of sense,”Spiegel told Recode. But I think a lot of companies have really worked on saying, ‘Okay, I have all these people visiting my service multiple times a day to talk to their friends. What other things can they do while theyre maybe waiting for their friend to respond? And that’s definitely part of what makes our business more interesting. It means we can show people content that they might enjoy while they’re waiting for their friend to respond.

With more than 110 million daily active users, Snapchat has been slowly rolling out its genius plan to give those users something to do — aka content to consume — while they wait for their friends to message them back. From user-generated event synopses to original content created by publishers like Mashable, BuzzFeed, and ESPN to a feature-length film, Snapchat is engaging its users with rich multimedia experiences.

And that’s where Snapchat’s big advantage comes into play. It successfully marries engaging editorial content to our most natural mobile behavior: messaging.

What Network-Specific Media Reveals About Content Consumption

The idea of brands turning to social networks to create and publish original content is something we’ve covered on The Knowledge Bank before, but Snapchat’s evolution could be ushering in a new era of media.

It’s clear that everyone wants to be a publisher these days, but it’s ultimately up to readers to decide where and how they want to consume content. We may come to find that Snapchat isn’t that place, but done tastefully and strategically, it does offer several advantages:

  1. It already has habitual users interacting with content, day in and day out.
  2. Snapchat has a business model that actually makes money; its revenue is targeted to grow between 330 and 500 percent this year.
  3. Options for advertising on the platform already exist — and while Snapchat isn’t a staple (like Facebook or AdWords) for brands’ advertising budgets quite yet, with its continued investment in its Discover features, it could become one down the road.

What can we learn from all of this? It’s unlikely that anyone will copy Snapchat’s exact model any time soon, but as content marketers (and content consumers ourselves), there are a few things Snapchat’s exponential growth can teach us about how people love to consume content.

Mobile Comes First

I feel like a broken record when I say this, but mobile is a big deal. We recently surveyed 200 people over the age of 24 about media consumption. Nearly 90 percent of them reported that they spend more than an hour a day consuming content on their phone, and almost 64 percent cited social media or mobile apps as their source for discovering content via their mobile device. Optimizing your content for a mobile-first experience will improve your ability to engage and interact with your audience members where they actually want to consume it: on their phone.

Media-Rich Experiences Are on the Rise

Snapchat capitalizes on rich experiences that are highly visual. Bite-sized stories make it easy to consume content via Snapchat, even if you aren’t fully focused or willing to devote very much time to the platform. Its editorial content on Discover is highly visual, but it complements that video content with text and simple subtitles to make it easy to consume content even without sound. Snapchat also mixes an editorial perspective from publishers, correspondents, and journalists with user-generated content via stories. Its giving its readers an honest picture of the events that they are peering into from multiple angles, providing a rich and unique experience.

Say It, Dont Spray It

I mentioned this earlier, but I’m bringing it up again because it’s so important. Snapchat weaves content into your life and into your natural behavior in a noninvasive way. You can easily navigate the platform and interact with your friends while also consuming content that relates to events and topics you actually care about. Audiences will always have a me first mentality; marketers must remember to engage those audiences in a way thats helpful and welcome rather than use content as a tool to spray people with their message.

Will Snapchat continue rising as a force to be reckoned with in the media world? We can’t know for sure, but it is certainly on an exciting path to creating a new kind of media company that’s disrupting the way that we create and consume content.

Looking for more insight into the latest online publishing trends? Download our report on the state of contributed content to discover what kinds of content editors want:

Download "The State of Contributed Content"—Your Guide to Getting Published Online

About Taylor Oster

Taylor Oster is the marketing director at Influence & Co. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn, and see other articles that she's written here.

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