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January 29, 2013

Snapchat: It Isn’t Just for Sexting Anymore


Ask someone about Snapchat and they’re most likely to respond, “Oh, that app for sexting?” If they’ve never heard of it, they’re most likely over the age of 40.

And it’s true; Snapchat is every sexter’s dream. The idea is simple. You take a picture, send it to a friend and determine how long the receiving party has to view the photo. After the time expires, the photo is effectively destroyed. Worried about someone taking a screenshot? Snapchat tracks and informs senders if a screen shot is taken. (You can read more about how to hack a screenshot here, if you chose).

I tried to use the app, but almost none of my iPhone contacts are on Snapchat. Aw shucks! For the sake of research, I wandered over to Snapchat’s website to learn more about the service. Immediately two young ladies taking a picture of themselves greet you with excited expressions.  So far, Snapchat lives up to it’s reputation of sending pictures to friends you wouldn’t want them to save.


Further investigation of the site leads to the Snapchat Philosophy, which I’d like to note this is the first phone app philosophy I’ve encountered.

Snapchat Philosophy:

  • We believe in sharing authentic moments with friends.
  • Sharing those moments should be fun.
  • There is value in the ephemeral.

The first two points are good values for any visual sharing app, but the third is what makes the service unique. Most people use photographs to help them remember a moment and make it last. Snapchat realized there was an opportunity to flip the conventional wisdom on its head to create a compelling value offer.

With all of the sexting aside, there is a great deal of value for marketers in the ephemeral, as Snapchat so eloquently put it. 16 Handles, the New York Frozen Yogurt outlet, is one of the few companies to take a chance with Snapchat. They tasked consumers to “Snap” a picture enjoying a tasting of any of their flavors and rewarded them with anywhere from 16%-100% off.


The beauty of this program is in the functionality of app and the 10-second window consumers have to produce the coupon to the cashier. The short window ensures that participants are compelled by the chance of a large discount, but have already made a decision on purchase before finding the amount.

Utilizing a Snapchat coupon program could be successful many other types of retailers. Gap, Inc. has similar mystery “discounts” they promote via email that consumers can redeem online. Some additional retailers hand out scratch off discounts in-store. The advantage of using Snapchat, other than looking really cool and hip, is the 10 second redemption window. As with the 16 Handles example, the opportunity of savings pushes them to the point of purchase to find. Sure there are potential problems with staff executing the transaction, but proper training should mitigate potential problems.

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