Is There A Future For “Disposable Media” And Brands?

Sure, you’ve probably heard your little sister talk about “snaps” from her BFF, but when it comes to using disposable media platforms, like Snapchat or Facebook’s now non-existent “Poke” mobile app, it has us wondering if this trend will be profitable or have any longevity within community building.

For those who haven’t downloaded any of these social networking tools, it’s important to note that they purposefully don’t let users archive or retrieve content once it has been viewed. The content is “disposable” because it has an expiration date (or time, for that matter). While very popular among teens, Snapchat and similar tools are starting to get on the radar of more mature audiences within the past year. At first glance, most social savvy folks assumed Snapchat was only for “sexting”; however, as TechCrunch noted that’s no longer true:

“When you’re sending over 50 million snaps a day, a few of them are bound to be of naughty bits. But 80 percent of those snaps are sent during the day, with a spike during school hours. Whatever the sexting stats may be, they’re more likely using Snapchat to cheat on tests than to sext. Snapchat wasn’t built for sexting, which seems clear from the fact that pictures self-destruct in less time than it takes to fully enjoy a nude pic.”

So, why should social media marketers pay attention to disposable media for their clients? According to AdAge, NYC’s popular frozen yogurt shop 16 Handles was the first brand to test Snapchat as a social platform for their community. The concept was simple couponing:

“The “Snappy New Year” campaign urges the company’s Facebook fans to send a Snapchat photo, or “snap,” of their frozen-yogurt purchase to the company’s Snapchat account. Participants then receive a coupon via Snapchat that can be redeemed at the register … 16 Handles did not have a Snapchat account before the campaign started on Jan. 1. Now, the company has sent and received more than 1,400 snaps with users.”

Since 16 Handles’ success with Snapchat, a range of brands have joined the platform to connect with their young and hip communities, such as Taco Bell, to let hungry fans know the Beefy Crunch Burrito would be returning and fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, to give her fashionista followers a sneak peak of her Spring 2014 collection before it even hit the NYFW runway shows, as reported by Mashable. Snapchat also launched new features in May, as reported by Yahoo! Tech, including video and chat.

The Netflix hit, Orange Is The New Black, is currently giving a successful try at their own version of disposable media, by posting sneak-peeks to their Instagram account of the upcoming season, cross-promoting on Facebook and Twitter, then only keeping the video content live for 15 minutes before pulling it back “on lockdown.” This has urged fans of the show to quickly spread the news to friends and fellow fans to watch the content before it expires online. This is a great use of traditional social media platforms being teased in the new world of disposable media!

Everyone knows that posting a drunkenly embarrassing photo on Facebook or writing a nasty Tweet can and will come back to haunt you. These platforms are no longer just for sharing sorority initiation albums or keeping in touch with old friends, but are now communities that both your parents and potential employers can view. Privacy and personal branding are of utmost importance on these platforms, rather than rushing to share in-the-moment thoughts or photos.

So, have you experimented with Snapchat or will you be pitching disposable media platforms to clients this year? And if so, do you think it will stand the test of time for brands or just disappear as quickly as a “snap?”


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