Monday, December 7, 2015

Is Snapchat a storytelling tool?

I'm struggling to figure out how Snapchat fits in a public relations strategy. This may be akin to
By Snapchat, Inc. (
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
asking your grandfather to join Instagram.

Admission: I'm in learning mode with Snapchat. The app peered into my device's address book, and served up two names of contacts with Snapchat accounts. I haven't spoken to these individuals in more than a year. And neither are people with whom I'd want to share images from my daily life.

(Aside: while writing this blog, I had to force my fingers to type "Snapchat" and not "snapshot." Old habits die hard.)

But a colleague tells me Snapchat is a viable marketing communications platform for her needs. She works in undergraduate admissions, and is using a version of a university mascot to promote followers for the university on Snapchat. In the battle for hearts of prospective young enrollees, a plush-toy animal might be a differentiator.

I'm over 50. For me -- at the Neptune end of Snapchat's demographic solar system -- the phone-only app is a little baffling. Temporary photo posts? I get that. I don't sext, never have, so if that's still part of Snapchat's milieu, I'm not interested. Especially since anyone with even modest smartphone skills knows how to capture a screen image that could acquire a 100-year afterlife online.

Can we use Snapchat for storytelling, the heart and soul of PR? 

Last week, I read that Snapchat is now venturing into news, assembling content from users on a hot issue. Last week's devastating attack in San Bernardino, CA was captured in a collage of content from Snapchat users. So it won't take long before other newsworthy events -- and later, PR-worthy announcements -- find audiences on Snapchat. (Whether this is competitive with news that breaks on Twitter or Facebook, however, is anyone's guess today.)

I'm going to need to dig deeper into this. Look for my Snapchat user name: davekny57 and tell me a story. Opinions welcome. Stay tuned.