After the discontinuation of Vine, Snapchat took centre stage as the leading social platform for sharing short videos. Within months of Twitter shutting down Vine, however, TikTok – a video-sharing platform arriving as a result of a merger with Musical.ly - was founded and began to quickly rise in popularity.
For marketers and influencers, it’s important to predict – as much as possible – which communication channels and social platforms have a future and are therefore worth their time and effort. Given how quickly TikTok became popular – with 800 million active monthly users – many are wondering whether Snapchat be overtaken by the newcomer.
Target audience and functionality
On a superficial level, the two platforms share both most of their basic functions and a target audience. Both Snapchat and TikTok are video-based platforms at their core, allowing for the sharing of short clips between friends and broader audiences. Both are popular especially with younger generations: 90% of Snapchat users and 69% of TikTok users are aged 13 to 24.
Although it may seem as if Snapchat and TikTok are therefore the same service aimed at the same crowd, a closer analysis will show that they are in fact very different from each other in practice.
Snapchat’s functionality is based on sharing videos for a limited time: they expire either immediately upon viewing or within a 24-hour period. TikTok, meanwhile, allows users to create videos that are available indefinitely on their profile and can be viewed like a gallery or a portfolio at any time. The two platforms therefore offer very different kinds of entertainment value to users. On Snapchat, content has a quality of being unique – it’s worth following someone to make sure you don’t miss your one and only opportunity to see a new piece of content. On TikTok, content is searchable and functions in a way similar to YouTube, allowing users to replay and share their favourite content.
Although both platforms are primarily video-based (Snapchat allows images, too), there is a marked difference in the type of content the userbases of each prefer. In general, Snapchat content tends to be more personal – to make sense of the short-lived videos, users usually need to follow the creator for a while or be aware of their branding from engagement on other platforms. Because Snapchat videos typically disappear upon viewing, creators can also get away with more controversial videos.
TikTok content, meanwhile, is geared more towards universal entertainment value. The primary purpose of most popular profiles is not so much to build lasting connections and a dedicated group of followers, but to entertain as broad an audience as possible.
The platforms as marketing tools
Marketers looking to advertise on Snapchat or TikTok will quickly discover that here, too, the similarities between the platforms are mostly superficial. On Snapchat, brands can purchase ads – in a way vaguely similar to Facebook advertising. Branded content is displayed on the ‘Discover’ panel of the app, and includes a visual story about the brand or the product composed of a short video or a series of stills.
Advertising and audience engagement work very differently on TikTok, as most marketers find the audience engagement route to be the most effective here. Rather than designing and placing a platform-friendly ad, brands build up their presence on TikTok and attempt to engage their followers – promoting their company messaging and values in the process. One example are hashtag challenges – short-lived trends where brands challenge their audience to film themselves performing a specific task (e.g. creating an ad with a specific theme), usually with some form of reward for the best entries.
Snapchat’s time hasn’t come yet
In conclusion, although the platforms appear to offer similar functionality and entertainment value, they bear some marked differences for brands and average users alike. Each requires a different approach from an influencer’s or marketer’s perspective, and each fulfils slightly different needs on the part of the users. As such, there is no reason why they wouldn’t be able to continue co-existing.
Since both Snapchat and TikTok are most likely here to stay, marketers deciding which platform will be best for their brand should focus on their brand messaging and preferred method of interacting with the community. For more traditional advertising, Snapchat will work best – TikTok, meanwhile, will require more creativity and regular engagement. For expert help with creating an effective PR strategy for either platform, consult a PR agency and look into acquiring a verified status.
Once a simple, fun way to communicate using photos and videos, Snapchat is now a valuable marketing tool for companies and influencers alike. The platform is particularly important for brands looking to target young audiences, as Snapchat is most popular among the younger generations – an estimated 90% of Snapchat users are aged between 13 and 24.
To make the most out of your Snapchat campaigns, it’s strongly recommended that you verify your account and make it into the Official Stories section. But how is it done and why is it worth your time and resources?
How Snapchat verification works
Let’s start by quickly defining what is meant by Snapchat verification. This process is somewhat different to other social media. On Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms, it’s possible to achieve a ‘verified’ status through applying for verification. A successful verification results in a checkmark badge next to your username, indicating that the account is the official channel for the brand.
Snapchat, meanwhile, doesn’t grant a verified status on an application basis. Rather, the platform’s staff decide which accounts are popular or important enough to merit the emoji next to the username that identifies verified accounts.
Why it’s worth it
As far as direct, technical benefits of verification go, the primary consequence is that your snaps will appear under the Official Stories header when people search for your username. This decreases the risk that someone looking for your account accidentally ends up on another profile with a similar username. It also grants your stories a quality similar to promoted content – they’ll appear on top of the search results. As we all know, most internet users are much more likely to click on the top results than to keep scrolling – if that wasn’t the case, SEO and page ranking wouldn’t be a thing.
There are several indirect benefits of getting verified that stem from belonging to the platform’s elite. Usually, Snapchat verification is reserved for celebrities and large brands. It follows, therefore, that a verified emoji next to your username will immediately indicate that your brand is noteworthy, trendy, and worth following. Verification will increase your standing in the context of the platform, placing you in the same category as top-level influencers and celebrities.
On all social media platforms, the primary function of a verified badge is to prevent copyright infringement and imposters from imitating the official brand. Therefore, having the verified emoji suggests to viewers that your brand is important and original enough to require a safeguard against fraud, trolls, and impersonation.
The overall result of the above is that the level of authority of your Snapchat brand will be increased. The interest that the official emoji is likely to raise is also going to positively influence the number of your followers and views of your posts, as most social media users are always looking for new trends and won’t pass up on checking out a verified account they haven’t seen before.
How to get verified
As we’ve already mentioned, typically Snapchat users do their best to make their snaps as popular as possible and hope to get noticed. The usual requirement is to achieve 50,000 views on a story to qualify for the gold star.
As the owners of most branded accounts will already know, 50,000 views on a single story is a tall order. Using traditional means, it’s possible to achieve this milestone with a lot of work and a bit of luck. Assuming none of your snaps unexpectedly go viral, you’ll need to put considerable effort into creating quality content and engaging with your audience. Following other users in your niche and interacting with them and their followers and communicating directly with your own audience will help you to grow your popularity on the platform. In addition, you’ll likely need to your other outlets – especially social media – to drive traffic to your Snapchat and gradually build up a large enough following to warrant verification.
However, there are several ways to speed up the process. A degree of popularity on the platform will be required either way, but a professional PR agency can help you to make sure that your account gets verified quicker and with less effort. If Snapchat is an important part of your branding, it’s well worth getting in touch and getting a gold star as soon as possible.
Although Instagram marketing is far from an exact science, there are a series of steps you can take to maximize your chances of developing a large following and going viral. Before you get to creating top-quality content and engaging with your audience, the very first thing to get right is the username - a crucial element that many would-be influencers tend to underappreciate.
A unique username will make you stand out
Instagram popularity is all about being unique – offering your followers something no one else can and letting your individuality and personality shine. Your username is the first thing most users will notice, so you naturally want it to indicate you’re unusual, creative, and worth checking out.
On a practical level, a unique username will also ensure that audiences won’t confuse your profile with those of others. If you make your username too similar to another existing account, you may be giving free traffic away to the owner of the other username. For example, if your chosen username is ‘fashionpics’, but a profile named ‘fashionpic’ already exists, you’ll need to come up with something more creative.
Short usernames are easy to remember
In addition to being unique, the perfect Instagram username should also be as short as possible. The simple reason behind this is that short usernames are much easier to remember, so returning visitors to your profile won’t have any trouble finding you again.
Short – and therefore memorable – usernames also spread more easily through recommendations and the so-called word of mouth. If one of your followers tells their friends about your account, a short username will be easier for them to recall.
If coming up with a unique and short internet handle that’s relevant to your brand sounds easy, think again. With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is a heavily populated platform, so coming up with an available username that ticks all the boxes requires immense creativity and resourcefulness. Keep in mind that an expert PR agency will be able to help you define your brand and register or purchase the ideal Instagram username.
Easy to spell means easy to find
Once you’ve come up with a few possible usernames that may fit the bill, consider them from the perspective of spelling. The first factor to look at is the potential for followers misspelling your username. Keep in mind that even commonly used words such as ‘definitely’ or ‘separate’ are commonly misspelled.
Secondly, check whether any of the words in your username have different spellings in UK and U.S. English. For instance, the word ‘traveler’ is spelled with one L in the U.S. and two Ls (traveller) in the UK.
The smaller the potential for spelling mistakes, the larger the chances that users will find you without a problem and distinguish your profile from others with similar usernames.
Available on multiple platforms + domain
Last but not least, the ideal Instagram username needs to be unique enough not only to be available on Instagram, but also on other platforms that you’re going to be using for branding purposes. Forward-thinking influencers and entrepreneurs will pick an Instagram username that’s also available on Twitter, Snapchat, and other social media, as well as a suitable domain (website address). It’s advisable to go a step further and simultaneously register accounts under the same username on all available platforms even if you’re not going to use them immediately. This will help you take charge of your branding and prevent someone else from using your Instagram username on other platforms.
Getting it right from the start
Where possible, it’s much better to choose an ideal username from the beginning and then just stick with it. Temporary usernames or ones that you’re not altogether happy with and plan on changing in the future are not a good idea.
The main reason behind this is that by changing your username mid-campaign or after achieving some level of recognition on Instagram, you’ll inadvertently lose a fraction of your popularity, as you’ll make yourself more difficult to find for returning visitors.
You’ll also need to re-brand all of your other official social media, like Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat, to suit your new Instagram username and ensure your branding is uniform and coherent across all platforms.
That being said, the old adage ‘better late than never’ fully applies here – if you find your current Instagram username could do with improving, the sooner you change it, the better. Enlisting the help of an expert PR agency is highly advisable, as PR professionals will be able to help you come up with the ideal username and ensure the re-branding transition is as smooth as possible.