On any given day, Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States — a statistic that underscores why so many marketers have been paying attention to the platform.
Have B2B marketers joined the party, too?
'Enormous Possibilities' for B2B Marketers
Not quite, social media marketing analysts concurred. They described Snapchat as a B2C marketing play.
The B2B door will stay closed for a while, according to Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and co-founder of New York City's VaynerMedia. But it is definitely poised to open.
“I'm completely convinced that in 24 to 36 months, as the platform dramatically ages up and starts hitting the 30- to 50-year-old demographic, there will be enormous possibilities,” Vaynerchuk told CMSWire.
“I always like to say, ‘behind every B is a C.’ What that means is behind every business there is a human that is making the decisions. If you’re selling a phone system or a (Software-as-a-Service) SaaS product to a big corporation, a human being is still making that decision. If you’re able to make content on a platform around interests in your specific industry, you’ve put yourself in a position to do B2B business.”
But others feel now is the time for B2B marketers to lay the Snapchat foundation.
Carla Johnson, marketing and customer experience strategist for Parker, Colo.-based Type A Communications, said B2B companies need to feel a sense of urgency about the opportunities that Snapchat offers.
“Do your homework to understand it and the dynamics of how it connects with audiences instead of scrambling to play catchup 12 to 18 months from now,” she said.
“Similar to YouTube, Snapchat will be a place where people move from using it purely for entertainment, to searching for information. B2B companies need to spend time now watching how consumer brands and consumers themselves are using the platform.”
For now, B2C is the focus for Snapchat’s advertising business, which it calls “Snap Ads.” Snapchat itself highlights B2C case studies like Gatorade and Kraft on its advertising site.
Snapchat still lags Facebook (1.65 billion users), Instagram (400 million) and Twitter (310 million) ... depending on who you ask. Some already have Snapchat leaping Twitter. And its fast rise in popularity should whet the interest of all marketers.
According to a Snapchat report, more than 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users in the US are Snapchatters. Users view more than 10 billion videos every day on Snapchat — more than a 350 percent increase in the past year.
In a report last week, eMarketer had Snapchat growing faster than Twitter and Pinterest.
“What makes Snapchat different from other mobile messaging apps — and more-established social networks — is the short-lived nature of the messages, the highly visual interface and the features that enable users to get creative with the images they share, and tailor them to specific locations or events,” eMarketer principal analyst Cathy Boyle said in a statement.
“The fun aspect of Snapchat should also be credited for its success. In a world in which there is an app for nearly everything, Snapchat has cut through the clutter by injecting fun back into social sharing.”
Salesforce Snaps Away
Although most B2B marketers will likely wait to jump onto Snapchat, a few, including Salesforce, the world’s largest customer relationship management (CRM) software provider, already have a Snapchat strategy.
Alexa Schirtzinger, director of content marketing at San Francisco-based Salesforce, calls Salesforce a “B2B company with a B2C personality.” Salesforce saw Snapchat “gaining critical mass” and found Snapchat the “perfect place to engage people in a different way than other platforms.”
Live Event Engagement
"Snapchat is totally a great opportunity for us to give a little flavor of what’s happening behind the scenes at conferences,” Schirtzinger told CMSWire.
Salesforce marketers use it to post short clips from keynotes, take pictures of any and all conference action (like even the sock image above).
“It gives people who aren’t there and even those who are a sense of what we’re doing right now,” Schirtzinger said. “What does it feel like to be there?”
They also use the Snapchat Geofilters that put a stamp on photos and videos. They also use on images customizations like conference logos and mascots.
“It’s an opportunity to reach our users on a different level and in a more fun way,” Schirtzinger said. “We’re not trying to sell people on anything. It’s to engage people in a meaningful way and be a part of our conversation. Snapchat plays in a different way. The fact that all posts disappear after a certain amount of time gives it that ‘you had to be there’ kinda feel.”
Snapchat is winning because it provides content the way people like to consume it: through videos, images and short snippets of text.
Ashu Garg, general partner at Menlo Park, Calif.-based Foundation Capital, predicts that in five years, all marketing will mobile-centric. When you add video and content marketing possibilities to mobile, Garg said, you’ve got an even greater marketing opportunity.
“Online video is taking over TV,” Garg told CMSWire this week.
“Snapchat is reaching the scale of Facebook video which in turn is reaching the same scale as YouTube video in the US. The evolution of online video is taking over TV, and Snapchat is a big part of it. … People want to be educated, informed and entertained, and Snapchat is a great medium to do that.”
Nancy Lim, director of marketing at Atlanta-based PureCars, which provides digital marketing solutions for automotive dealers, said Snapchat caught the fancy of mobile users and, especially, millennials.
“We’re such an ADD society where everything is media focused,” Lim told CMSWire. “Having a platform where people are sharing constantly in short blurts and very quick consumable content and videos has been revolutionary for how we can reach consumers.”
Snapchat developers have even capitalized on the way consumers swipe between content and images on their mobile devices, Lim said.
“They’ve built something that’s universally relevant to everyone and have evolved instead of staying stagnant,” Lim said.
B2B Readies to Make the Jump
Carter Hostelley, CEO and founder of Burlingame, Calif-based Leadtail, a social media agency, said B2B marketers will likely ease onto Snapchat over the next two to three years.
“B2B marketers are focused on selling to decision makers who don't fit Snapchat's younger demographic,” Hostelley said.
“Though B2B marketers have embraced YouTube, they still haven't meaningfully embraced other visual platforms like Instagram and Tumblr. Like with many marketers, they don't even understand how to use Snapchat. Furthermore, I think most B2B marketers will continue to focus efforts on how to break through with content marketing and get their current social media efforts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and to some degree, Facebook, to pay off.”
Hostelley, however, believes Snapchat will play a role in B2B marketing in the future.
“As the Snapchat platform matures,” he added, “it will become both more accessible to the demographics that B2B marketers sell to and better lend itself to B2B marketing campaigns. Somewhat along the lines of how YouTube evolved over time.”
Vaynerchuk, too, sees Snapchat as an “excellent place for B2B players who act like media companies — media companies that create stories to bring value to their end users.”
“Those players,” he added, “will find their niche and their audience, allowing them to disproportionately pick up business."