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New Snapchat Features and Opportunities for Brands

Vanessa Williams.

A few days ago, Snapchat updated its app with new features to emphasize the ‘chat’ aspect of the platform. This is Snapchat's first major update since they introduced Stories in October of last year. With two-new features, text messaging and video chatting, Snapchat is looking to keep people within its app for activities for which they would normally go to other apps (i.e. WhatsApp, and Skype). These updates will help Snapchat users interact with their friends in a variety of ways; but will brands be able to engage with consumers in the same meaningful way?

New Feature: Text Messaging

Until recently, the only text users could send via Snapchat was 45-characters or shorter. Now, you can have a full text conversation without leaving the app. Sending a text message works the same way you send a ‘snap’. However, just like ‘snaps’, text messages disappear when you leave the conversation and only individual messages can be saved. Photo sharing can also happen through text messages with the added bonus of being able to upload a photo from your camera roll. Text messaging is obviously not a new tech development, but adding it to an app that is full of millenials who use texting as a main form of communication is a smart move by Snapchat.

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New Feature: Video Chatting

Snapchat took one-to-one engagement to a new level by adding in video chat capability. Front and rear facing cameras will allow users to capture and share what is going on around them in real-time. Activating the video chat feature is a little tricky. The feature is only available when both users have the app open and are in the same text message conversation. If those criteria are met, a blue button will appear to start the video. The video chat capabilities are pretty simplistic, and in order to keep the video live, you have to keep your finger on the screen. While I doubt that Snapchat users will change their habits from using mostly ‘snaps’ to video chatting, this new feature supports the meaning behind real-time communication.

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Will the New Features Better Connect Brands with Consumers?

With the ability to engage users through text and video chatting, brands on Snapchat will look to leverage these new features to reach consumers. The new capabilities are catered towards an extremely personalized conversation as opposed to reaching new users. Text messaging only works when you have already connected with someone via a photo or video message. And video messaging only works when you are both within an existing conversation.

Another challenge brands will face is privacy. Some users might get turned off if a brand tries engage with them via a video conversation with no incentive for that particular user. An opportunity for brands is to give users truly exclusive content. Exclusive content could be in the format of: behind-the-scenes video at an event, deals and discounts, sneak-peaks at new products, or conversations with celebrity partners.

Brands will need to get creative to fully utilize the new Snapchat features. Will your brand(s) be testing these out?

Read Next: Brands That Are Snapping It Up


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