If you've been paying attention to digital marketing blogs for the past couple of months, then you've no doubt come across one or more "Snapchat is the future of online marketing" articles. Hey, I am just as bad as anyone, I have written on it plenty.
Although there's a lot of value in Snapchat, it's also true that many brands hate Snapchat right now.
Why? Let's count the ways.
1. It Doesn't Drive Traffic to Your Website
Most of your favorite social media outlets (Instagram being a pointed exception) allow you to post updates that include links to your website. For many websites, those links are their primary source of traffic.
But Snapchat isn't about posting links to websites. It's about posting snaps.
If you're unfamiliar with Snapchat, the concept is that people share photos or 10-second videos (called "snaps") with followers.
That's it. There's no link included.
So if you're an online marketer who's looking to reel in more consumers with direct links, Snapchat certainly isn't your best option.
On the other hand, if you want to boost brand-name awareness with timely, relevant images and videos that highlight your products or services, then Snapchat offers an excellent opportunity. Also, if you're into any kind of image marketing (for example, you're in the fashion space), then Snapchat might very well be the ticket that you want to punch.
But don't expect to see many visitors from Snapchat in your Google Analytics traffic sources.
2. Difficult to Measure Analytics
This may change in the future, but right now, it is almost impossible to measure any direct sales from Snapchat. You have to look more at the analytics regarding your filters and followers.
Even if you manage to use Snapchat to successfully build your brand online, it's difficult to measure how many people visited your website as a result of your Snapchat marketing efforts.
Sure, you could create a code or a special offer, but it is not something that you can easy track in tools like Google Analytics.
The counter argument to that, of course, is that it's been historically difficult to measure the success of "old school" marketing efforts that aim to boost brand-name awareness (TV, radio, etc). It's not always easy to tell which campaigns have been the most effective.
In the digital age, though, we've become addicted to analytics (for good reason). Now, we tend to think that any marketing effort that doesn't offer analytics might be money not so well-spent. I absolutely feel that way, because I know how effective other channels can be.
3. It's Tough to Get Followers
How do you get followers on Twitter? Sometimes, you follow people and they follow you back. Other times, people retweet your tweets and you gain followers from the retweets. Sometimes, people see what you've tweeted in a trending topic and follow you and of course you can run ads (there are other ways as well).
Don't expect to gain followers that way on Snapchat. It's much more of a "closed system."
You're basically on your own. You really need to hustle to get Snapchat followers. That's another reason why some brands hate Snapchat.
Sure, there are still plenty of ways to attract followers. You can put your Snapchat handle on the other social media profile pages, download your Snapcode and use it as your avatar on social media sites, ask popular people on Snapchat to mention your user name, use Facebook ads to drive traffic to your Snapchat URL, advertise exclusive deals only offered to Snapchat followers, and include your user name at the bottom of your email signature.
There are ways!
And yes, most of those options are relatively painless, but they also tend to not bear much fruit unless you're very popular already. If that's the case, though, you're probably not going to struggle with building a Snapchat following.
If you want to advertise to grow your Snapchat audience, keep in mind the previous points. You'll end up spending money just for the opportunity to build brand-name awareness. And, once you've spent that money, it will be difficult to track the success of your marketing efforts.
4. A Noticeable Lack of Sharing
Marketers love Facebook and Twitter because they offer the potential for viral sharing. Sometimes, digital strategists get lucky with an update that has the "it" factor and gets shared by tens of thousands of users.
That kind of virality doesn't just boost brand-name awareness, it also often drives traffic directly to the company website.
Unfortunately, though, Snapchat is a platform that doesn't offer sharing (unless something is saved or a screenshot is taken and it is posted again). People can't tap a button on the screen and automatically share a snap that they like with their followers.
That's yet another reason why some brands dislike Snapchat. When they share a snap, it's very likely that the only people who see that snap are people who follow them on Snapchat. That is unless it is a larger brand that shows up in the live stories, normal stories area or the search area.
So if you have a brand that thrives on viral content, Snapchat isn't going to help you much.
It is of Course Not All Bad, There is Plenty of Good
While Snapchat offers marketers an outstanding way to boost brand-name awareness on a platform that's wildly popular with millennials, it's lacking in some of the more popular features associated with other social media channels. That's why many brands are shying away from Snapchat in favor of more reliable and measurable digital campaigns.
If you want to really rock Snapchat, replicate what the top influencers are doing, create great filters that you can track and hustle hard to get those followers.