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Less is More in Social Media Apps. Or is it?


When a new, shiny phone application is released it’s easy to get caught up in the novelty of it before considering its purpose in your life. While there may be extra storage on your phone for yet another of the latest-and-greatest social media apps, it’s smart to question why you should get it. Ask yourself, how will it improve my life or my business and what is the smartest way to use it? That is, how does it fit in with my strategy?

In digital marketing there is no space for clutter, no matter how trendy it may be. This forces us to quickly gauge how useful new social media apps like Snapchat and Periscope are to our clients, and consequentially, to us.

How do these social media apps work?

Released in 2011, Snapchat is a messaging app allowing users to rapidly share moments via photo or video snaps with an individual friend, a group of friends or all their friends following them in the app. When the photo or video message has been opened it can be viewed for up to 10 seconds before it disappears, promoting a sense of urgency that other social media sites do not offer. It also features “Our Story” allowing users to experience major events going on around the world from many perspectives. According to Snapchat’s website, more than 60 percent of smartphone users ages 13 to 34 are Snapchatters.

The live-streaming app Periscope, released in March 2015, allows users to share video in real-time and enables users to comment and ask questions throughout live broadcasts of events.

Both of these social media apps are meant to connect people with a “less is more” approach. Unlike Facebook which gives users several features to connect to friends including status updates, event invitations, photo, video, “poking”, “liking” and group chats, Snapchat and Periscope keep it simple. The apps give users a fraction of those features, but offer the real-time appeal; everything happening on Snapchat and Periscope feels like it’s happening right now, not a few minutes ago. Since users can view only one video or photo at a time, it’s also less cluttered than other apps where banners and ads are displayed throughout.

Who has (successfully) used these apps to reach their customers?

To use these new apps successfully it’s vital to know the audience. The majority of Periscope and Snapchat users are millennials who are viewing 8 billion videos a day on the app, the same as Facebook video views as of February 2016.

Coca Cola initially struggled with Snapchat during the 2015 NCAA Final Four tournament because their snaps came across as advertising without a story behind them. They reworked their approach by getting users involved asking them to share snaps of their first day of school for Snapchat’s back to school campaign. It proved to be a smart move.

The sense of community Snapchat offers gives companies a chance to get involved in more meaningful and innovative ways that feel personal to each user.

Political candidates have also snapped their way to the top. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and John Kasich have all reached a younger demographic through their Snapchat stories. Sharing behind the scenes snaps from campaign stops, rallies and debates make users (and voters) feel more connected to the candidates.

The newer of the two apps, Periscope was utilized by Target in May of 2015 to premiere a new collection. They shared video of interviews with the designer, live coverage of the fashion show and fashion tips to users. Periscope allows companies to share much more than a TV commercial spot can offer.

What does this mean for how we adapt?

Most businesses utilize social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with their customers since they have been proven successful at reaching audiences. Now that choice in social media apps has grown and changed the way we do business, which are worth investing in?