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3 reasons why South African brands should not set up a Snapchat account

Snapchat is the new cocaine for digital marketers. As 2016 marketing strategies roll out there is no doubt that Snapchat will have found its way in there and be touted as the next Facebook. Snapchat is a social media platform that has gained popularity among millennials. It allows users to share tend second videos and photos to their friends. Once the content is viewed it is destroyed and cannot be accessed again. The public “My Story” feature allows brands and users to share content publically and that content lasts for 24 hours. Content is immediate, edited videos and photos cannot be uploaded. It’s the real-time social media app that social pundits are claiming is the next best platform for your brand.

But it’s not.

No matter what the internet tells you Snapchat is not going to be the platform that puts your brand on the map. The typical Snapchatter is a 20 something varsity student. The likelihood of them choosing to watch a brand’s Snap stories daily over a Khaya Dlanga or Gareth Pon are pretty slim. Here are three reasons why your brand shouldn’t set up a Snapchat account (but should still consider utilising the platform).

1. South African mobile internet connections aren’t reliable
Snapchat is a rather data-heavy social network. In a country where data appears to come at a premium don’t expect a mad rush to watch your content. The beauty of Snapchat has always been the immediacy and time sensitive nature of the posts. Snaps shared to public followers only last 24 hours. However, with an audience forking out a pretty penny to watch said content and, many times, having to utilise fluctuating networks that don’t always perform, you might find your small audience dwindling as the months go by.

2. It’s not measurable… at all

Snapchat has a private API. While many third party app developers have attempted to plug into it, none have truly succeeded in measuring the reach of a snap or the accurate following of an influencer on the platform. Snapchat also actively works with Google and Apple to shut down third party apps. What this means for your brand is that there is no way to measure the following of your brand account, no way to see your views per snap (unless you are timing each snap and screen grabbing views a minute before the snap expires) and no way to pull geographical information about your following. Your brand account could be snapping to a primarily American market and your digital managers would be none the wiser.

3. It is going to be expensive

Snapchat’s biggest appeal is its immediacy. Your content needs to be created in-app and shared immediately. There is no room to vet it or have a designer spend hours tweaking it to ensure the brand messaging is just right. Snapchat’s biggest appeal may also be its biggest downfall for brands. For starters, you’ll need to trust whoever is handling that account implicitly. The room for error is large and, if offensive content goes up, it can be removed extremely quickly. That means a brand and agency may not even know human-error has occurred, or have access to the error, until the social onslaught hits. You’re also going to have to pay a lot of money to ensure the platform is kept busy and content is uploaded. The majority of Snapchat users consume content after working hours and on weekends. To ensure your messaging is optimised that means having to cover the costs of someone being able to create and upload during peak times.

Should brands give up on Snapchat?

Brands shouldn’t toss in the proverbial Snapchat towel. However, there are ways to better utilise the platform. Snapchat users love the platform because it is a means to follow and interact with friends and people they look up to. The chances of them being excited to watch brand Snapchat content is pretty slim. Brands such as Disney and Walmart have chosen to collaborate with influencers to create content on the social platform.

For the South African market, where the Snapchat audience is small, it makes far more sense to utilise Snapchat influencers in campaigns and brand targeting as opposed to running brand accounts on the platform. Stand-alone Snapchat influencer campaigns should be avoided and rather the Snapchat link of a campaign can run as a value add alongside a bigger influencer marketing drive and online digital campaign. While America may brag stand-alone Snapchat stars, local influencers tend to have garnered their Snapchat following from their other social accounts – by plugging in to these a brand can ensure a successful ROI on an influencer campaign while incorporating a Snapchat value add.

Utilising an influencer marketing platform ensures you have the tools to measure the success of the campaign and also ensures the correct influencers are selected for the brand. Utilising Snapchat in this way allows for a far more successful response and likely a far cheaper cost… no need to increase that retainer!

Feature image: AdamPrzezdziek via Flickr.

Author | Sam Wright

Sam Wright
Sam Wright handles sales and content at Webfluential, an international influencer marketing platform. In her spare time she runs a blog called Tech Girl, a technology lifestyle blog aimed exclusively at women. Sam started her career as a Sub-Editor in the newsroom for YFM, a South African youth radio... More
  • Adam P

    I think that this photo is mine (on CC). But I don’t see credits here. Bad practice.

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  • Justine Nienaber

    I really disagree with this article
    1. South African networks aren’t as reliable as our overseas counterparts, yet but they are reliable enough to to used to upload Instagrams and Instavids so they can handle snaps being uploaded. My snapping habits mean I very rarely upload snaps when in a wifi zone and I have very few errors. If I do not have data available, I still send the snap which will not upload and give me a “snap not uploaded” notification which I will then load when I am in a wifi zone. An option no many users are aware of but one that is not only data friendly but also allows people (and brands) to take their snaps on location.
    2. It is semi measurable – as with any campaign, objectives have to be set up front. If your objectives is engagement/conversation you can track your Snapchat score another feature not many users are aware of, these are points that you accrue from sending messages outside of your Story platform. Snapchat is a messaging service, and Snapchat rewards conversation. Another measurement is trophies and counting the amount of eyes on a story, yes it has to be done manually but it is a metric none the less.
    3. Campaigns are expensive, however if you know how to manage Snapchat you costs are low in comparison. Data and a cellphone. It’s about being smart with the budget you have, avoiding a platform on the premise that it is too expensive means that not enough research has been done to cut costs and find smarter ways of doing things.
    4. Snapchat does allow for content to be created beforehand much like content plans for other social media platforms and uploaded should you want to create stories daily. – it is great for covering events and showcasing “behind the scenes” content its strength lies in behind able to tell stories as the stories are unfolding.

    As with any platform making use of influencers is just as useful on snapchat as as other platform.

  • Yeh, unfortunately I disagree too, this article is very contradictory in many weird ways. I appreciate that Webfluential’s platform is about influencers and therefore, “it makes far more sense to utilise Snapchat influencers in campaigns” is applicable from a self punting point of view for the author who does sales for Webfluencial ;) Advertorial vs Editorial.

    Hiring influencers is hugely expensive, the idea of Snapchat as it stands at the moment isn’t to produce TV quality videos with high production costs, it’s about real-time, off the cuff content and therefore production costs are frightfully cheaper than influencer hiring. Secondly, video content is starting to boom in South Africa, I constantly see videos all over South Africa. Any company that wants to reach gen-y should be thinking about Snapchat. Companies such as Redbull are perfectly positioned to use Snapchat to their advantage.


    I am an active Snapchat user in South Africa.
    I am also an influencer on Webfluencial and have been involved in a number of Webfluencial campaigns.
    I run a digital marketing agency.

    My Snapchat is: imodchris

  • Hi Adam. I do apologise for this and have updated the article to reflect that it is your image.

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