Is PR in India ready for Snapchat?

Last month, one of India’s leading English language newspapers, ‘Hindustan Times’, ran a story on the “Climb against Sexual Abuse” using Snapchat filters to conceal the identity of the participants, so that they could speak freely about their experiences.

This usage shows how far Snapchat has moved from its launch in 2011 as a picture texting app.

Increasingly, Indian brands are beginning to look at Snapchat as an option, inspite of the challenges regarding targeting and metrics while using Snapchat as a brand promotion tool. Snapchat is no longer being seen as a ‘sexting’ app.

While Snapchat has 9% of the app’s 100 million global daily users in India, if you compare this to 142 million users for Facebook in India, it’s a fraction of the user base. However, it is closer to the Twitter user base in India of 22.2 million and experts estimate this will only climb.

IPL Team Mumbai Indians made use of Snapchat to bond with fans
Given Snapchat’s largely millennial and Gen Z audience and the fact India has the largest Gen Z population in the world at over 350 million, on paper at least the potential for Snapchat to grow in India is massive.

Says marketing communication executive, Nikunj Kewalramani, “Snapchat is a fairly new platform for brands in India vis-a-vis global brands. Over the last couple of months, we have seen high traction of youngsters (aged 18- 35) on the platform. India is itself a young nation with average age of 27 years, this young age bracket is the most relevant for all brands to retain. Snapchat being a very popular app, gives brands an interesting visually engaging channel to converse with their audience.”

Snapchat’s potential for business results

Vijay Sankaran, director-digital strategy, GBM Digital Studio, agrees that traction is rising for Snapchat pointing out that the latest comscore numbers indicate usage in the 25 to 34 segment too has grown to 34% globally. He says, “I think it’s reaching a tipping point, especially for young, cool brands wanting to reach out to young social fans, who are a bit jaded with more mainstream platforms.”

Can Snapchat lead to a purchase?
Digital experts like Sankaran feel that whether Snapchat can lead to a purchase may be the wrong question to ask, pointing out that, “Social doesn’t always have to lead to a purchase. It can also be about building brand image and affinity.”

Sankaran warns that, “Snapchat is not for every brand though, and definitely not for those without a creative content approach and an appetite for experimentation. But like Instagram, what Snapchat offers is great engagement for unique content. So you can still measure unique views, completion rates etc. Snapchat is evolving its advertising options with its new ad API and tie up with comscore for metrics, so I expect things to change quickly.”

Snapchat offers several innovative features, of which the filters have been the most high profile with the media savvy Kardashians using it widely to promote themselves. Snapchat itself was used to present the Kayne West point of view over the lyrics war with Taylor Swift.

“The ability of Snapchat to create Geofilters is key to any company’s marketing campaign. The cost per impression as compared to a YouTube ad campaign costs very less. In real sense one would get a very few YouTube views for the price of unlimited Snapchat interactions”, says George Samuel, himself a Generation Z user and junior account executive with Avian Media.

Kewalramani agrees that, “Snapchat can be very creatively used by brands to interact with consumers, there are some ways through which one can measure the impact for their post, these can be unique views, story completion rate and screenshots.”

With the appetite for micro video content growing especially among the mobile Generation Z, Snapchat may be soon on every brand’s agenda and therefore on the list of PR strategies.

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