What Snapchat Means to the PR Industry

When Snapchat was released in 2011, it seemed to fill a need that was obvious. The youthful demographic on Facebook was invaded by an older demographic, and young people recognized the distinct disadvantage of having their photos or videos scrutinized by Mom and Uncle Jim. Snapchat better reflected real life in that it enabled users to share moments of life instantly and have them disappear immediately, leaving no permanent record except in the minds of those with whom you shared it. Public relations professionals instantly saw the potential of this new media marketplace that tapped into a younger group of users in a big way.

Understanding Snapchat’s Power

  • Snapchat’s lure is its intimacy, which allows users to attach faces and actions to a brand in an ever-widening circle of connection.

  • Snapchat users choose to view, eliminating the in-your-face intrusiveness of other social media platforms.

  • It is quickly overtaking many of the older social media platforms because of its convenience, its timeliness, and its ability to entertain.

  • Currently, Snapchat has over 100 million users and is the top social media platform in the 15-24 age group.

What Snapchat Can Do For Public Relations Efforts

Like other social media platforms, Snapchat utilizes a circle of “friends” to engage in moment-by-moment activities of interest. Users are highly motivated to find items to share to stay in contact with others, and this drive can be tapped into with exciting, in-the-moment images and videos that can be remembered and shared within circles of related users. Snapchat allows public relations firms to tap into “influencers” within these circles.

Snapchat’s Downside

For public relations, Snapchat is not a completely rosy situation. The ability to measure results is limited, at least in the current version. When users save an image, it provides some data, but it does not provide information about further views. Getting tangled up in sexting is another hazard of Snapchat that can have a downside for a brand. However, Snapchat’s real-time immediacy overcomes any shortcomings in this area. Another problem is the limitations in demographic reach. Currently, the platform is a favorite with a very young demographic, which can be good for promoting some brands but can have a negative effect on others.

Best Ways To Use Snapchat

In order to utilize the benefits of this new way of communicating, PR professionals should follow a few essential steps:

  • Experiment with Snapchat, familiarizing yourself with the site’s tools.

  • Develop a circle of “friends” for targeting your communications.

  • Take careful note of the style of ads on the site, which are designed to communicate to the typical user of the platform.

  • Get creative; find something new to say or a new way to say it that will draw attention.

  • Have your staff monitor social media trends and topics that can be used to promote your clients.

A good understanding of what the platform can and can’t do, as well as staying alert to the changes that commonly occur on social media, can make Snapchat a powerful tool for today’s PR professionals.


Originally published 9/08/16.