Snapchat: Tool, Benefits and PR/Marketing

Describing the Tool

How long has it been around?

The Snapchat platform was first launched in the Apple app store in September 2011 in Los Angeles, California (Murphy 2012). Created by co-founders Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, Snapchat now has almost five successful years under its belt. Today, Snapchat is in the top three apps in the Apple store (Ballve 2014).

What makes it unique?NOLA

Snapchat has gained substantial ground in popularity due to its defining feature of self-destructing “snaps.” Statistics say, one third of U.S. millennials use Snapchat regularly (Smith 2014) and 4 percent of users aged 16-64 use Snapchat globally (GlobalWebIndex 2014). Snaps are photos or videos sent from users either to a specific person or to a user’s story. Videos and photos sent through snapchat have a time limit that is set by the sending user. During the time of one to ten seconds, a viewer may see or watch the photo or video.

This platform is quickly growing and developing with the additions of text messaging and live video chat. Snapchat also has other unique features such as geo-filters, Discover and Snapcash. Geo-filters are filter for photos like any other on the app that users can apply to their photos. The key here is that Snapchat uses a user’s geographic location to give them a filter specific to where they are. Snapchat organizes these filters and creates a story for a geographic location to feature on everyone’s updates feed.

DiscoverDiscover is one of the best features on Snapchat for businesses to post material for users to see every day. The updates from these businesses are daily and feature a little bit of their own navigation when clicked on. So far, 12 companies, including Snapchat, are featured in the Discover panel. Snapcash is another feature created by Snapchat that allows user to link their Snapchat account with a Square ( a credit card processing and business solution company) account to send cash through snaps. These and many more upcoming features are what make Snapchat unique.

User Benefits

Why do users/subscribers use this tool?

According to Bobby Murphy, co-founder of Snapchat, he and co-founder Reggie Brown heard about “hilarious stories about emergency detagging of Facebook photos before job interviews and photoshopping blemishes out of candid shots before they hit the Internet” and decided there had to be a better way (Murphy 2012). Snapchat is a tool for sending photos and videos that self-destruct. This means that once a user sends a snap and the receiving user sees it for the allotted time set by the sending users, the photo or video is gone forever. This allows user to take photos without there being possible negative consequences. So that party that user A went to and had a GREAT time with won’t live forever on the internet. However, there is the capability of taking a screenshot of someone’s snap but Snapchat sends notifications to users whose photos have been screenshot.

The use of it as a marketing tool?Horchata

With a user base of close to 200 million users, Snapchat could be one of the most powerful marketing tools (Shontell 2015). Snapchat reaches a varied market of people ages 13 and up insuring a massive reach potential. Marketing in general on Snapchat is a fun and casual way to create content, reach market audiences and engage with followers.

PR/marketing benefits and risks

How useful is this tool for marketing?

Snapchat is a useful tool for sending sneak peaks for new products, release behind-the-scenes footage, send custom coupons and engage event attendees with insider info (Hussain 2014).

Snapchat offers few viewer analytics such as number of views, who has viewed and detected screenshots though only the first 100 results will appear and remaining results will appear as “+ _ more” (Snapchat Support).

Which industries are using it most?

Snapchat is a visual platform fostering a beneficial environment for marketing for just about every industry. However, the most popular industry marketing on Snapchat is media. News outlets, sports networks, magazines and music are the industries dominating the platform. Still, this platform is not exclusively for media specific companies. Anyone with a camera and a message can be successful on Snapchat. Other industries like fast food, automotive and even machinery companies have successful Snapchat profiles.

Taco BellA few brands that are effectively using of Snapchat include 16 Handles, Tacobell, Acura, Karmaloop, GrubHub, New Orleans Saints, Rebecca Minkoff and MTV UK (Ang 2013). Taco Bell was the first brand to enter the Snapchat scene with a tweet saying, “We’re on @Snapchat. Username: tacobell. Add us. We’re sending all of our friends a secret announcement tomorrow! #Shhh” (Taco Bell, 2013). Already showing skill in audience engagement, Taco Bell entices users to add them on Snapchat to see the big secret. The secret was the reintroduction of the Beefy Crunch Burrito. Taco Bell shares stories like this all the time on Snapchat. In an interview with Mashable, the director of social media at Taco Bell said, “It’s all about treating them like personal friends and not consumers” (Stampler 2013). The company shows this by snapchatting individual customers with pictures of their food and friendly messages.

ComedyCentralLogoComedy Central’s Snapchat journey also began on Twitter with a tweet saying, “Add Comedy Central on @Snapchat to get funny pics and videos you won’t be able to prove existed (Comedy Central 2014). Comedy Central is now one of the 12 publishers on the Discover panel on Snapchat. Every day we can see new material from this company of clip of their shows. Snapchat works well for this company because Comedy Central can show upcoming schedules of shows coming on every day using short snap style videos.

Which industries might benefit the most from using this social media tool?Add Friends

Snapchat’s unique feature of self-destructing photos and videos can make it difficult for everyone to catch epic fails from companies. If a company were to release something less than favorable to audiences it could be removed quickly save for a couple of screenshots that may have been taken. So far, companies using Snapchat have not run into any major issues with marketing or campaigns. Snapchat is a fairly new tool for marketing and companies are using it well. There are no reported instances where a major company has epically failed in their released content. Other companies may have failed in their marketing on Snapchat but their first problem would be that not many people know about them on Snapchat yet.

What are the risks involved?

Risks involved with marketing on Snapchat are few so far. Marketing on Snapchat is not a highly developed practice because not very many companies use Snapchat to market and the companies that are have not been there for long. The main risk for using Snapchat as a marketing tool is not being able to grow an audience. Snapchat works by adding friends so one would need to advertise their Snapchat profile in order to reach the audience they have and grow a bigger audience. Unless a company is going to pay big bucks to show their ads on story update feeds or join discover there is not much of an opportunity for audience growth.


Ang, S. (2013, December 5). 8 Brands Rocking Snapchat. Retrieved from

Ballve, M. (2014, August 15). Snapchat’s Explosive Growth Among Teens And Millennials Means It’s Emerging As A Powerful Brand Platform. Retrieved from

Comedy Central. [ComedyCentral]. (2014, July 29). Add Comedy Central on @Snapchat to get funny pics and videos you won’t be able to prove existed. [Tweet]. Retrieved from

GlobalWebIndex. (2014, November 20). GWI: WeChat Retains Crown as Top Messaging App | WeChat Blog: Chatterbox. Retrieved July from

Murphey, B. (2012, May 9). Let’s Chat [Web Log Post]. Retrieved from

Shontell, A. (2015, January 3). Snapchat Is A Lot Bigger Than People Realize And It Could Be Nearing 200 Million Active Users. Retrieved from

Smith, C. (2014, February 2). 50 Amazing Snapchat Statistics. Retrieved from

Snapchat Support. (n.d.). Snapchat | Support. Retrieved from

Stampler, L. (2013, May 2). Taco Bell Just Snapchatted A Bunch Of Customers. Retrieved from

Taco Bell. [tacobell]. (2013, April 30). We’re on @Snapchat. Username: tacobell. Add us. We’re sending all of our friends a secret announcement tomorrow! #Shhh [Tweet]. Retrieved from



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