Snapchat Lessons: Learning from Changes in Customer Behavior
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Snapchat Lessons: Learning from Changes in Customer Behavior

Snapchat Lessons: Learning from Changes in Customer Behavior

If you're paying attention to media, you know that Snapchat is being crowned the new social media (if not total media) darling. You may know it as the disappearing messages app, but that is an oversimplification and overlooks what makes it so popular and heavily used. How heavily? According to Bloomberg, 150 million people use the app each day--more daily users than Twitter; and comScore reports that 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. use the app.

So much has already been written about this trendy app. Perhaps you're interested in knowing why people love Snapchat so much. Or maybe you're a user and want to know how to improve your own experience. Rather than a "how-to" story about using Snapchat to promote your business, this column is about understanding some key behaviors behind its usage.

1) Be in the moment

Unlike many photo sharing apps (I'm looking at you, Instagram), Snapchat doesn't allow for "curation." Upon opening the app, users are beckoned to take a photo or video immediately. There's no room for being overly precious. Snapchat is saying, "Let's focus on what's really happening, right now." The immediacy of the snaps users see is one thing that makes the app so addictive.

  • How does this apply to your business? Focus on the moment. Snapchat is reminding us that what's actually happening is what's important. Sure there are still a significant number of people sharing processed pictures of their meals and events, but that's not everything. The memory that makes an impression is the greeting and the conversation you had before your oil change, not the 45 minutes you spent waiting. Pay attention to the moments you're creating for your customers with your training and operations, and be sure your team is staying in the moment when engaging with customers.

2) Use your imagination

Is Snapchat all about capturing the moment in 100 percent journalistic reality? Thankfully, no. Users find ways to "edit" videos by shooting them in short, inventive sequences. And they add to their photos with text and drawings to explain, direct focus, or just have ridiculous amounts of fun. People draw themselves into costumes or have items "instantly" appear in their videos.

  • How does this apply to your business? We know that past experience is the driver for future visits. In a study conducted by Santy, 57 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds said they base their next dining decision on past experience. People don't want boring. It doesn't mean you need to add the fountains of the Bellagio to your business. It means you have to shop your store and work with staff to identify new ways to add those "Wow" moments to regular visits. Be inventive. It could be through a surprise item, art in the store, or other personal touches.

3) Personal, not broadcast

Unlike most social media platforms, Snapchat doesn't display the number of followers of an account. And when the app launched, there was no mass distribution system. As a result, snaps feel direct, as if they were created just for the viewer. Even viewing a story created by a popular user or a brand feels more personal because it is viewed directly by one user at a time on their device. It creates a real response from the viewer, as well as an increased focus on the content.

  • How does this apply to your business? This is simple, but easily forgotten. Think of yourself as a customer somewhere besides your own business. How do you like to be treated? Do you prefer mass-produced, one-size-fits-all service? I doubt it. People want to feel special, important, or at least worth good treatment. Create bridges to your customers through service initiatives or a loyalty program that allows you to respond based on what they like (and don't like) about your business.


Every new trend offers insights about the way people and behavior are changing. The key is to allow yourself not to think literally about the trend (in this case a piece of software). Instead, look for similar and differing behaviors of your customers and staff--and change accordingly.

Adam Pierno, director of brand strategy and planning at Santy, unearths Millennial insights at the convergence of media, technology, and the marketplace. These insights lead to positive and revenue-enhancing change for clients. Contact him at or 480-710-4243.

Published: May 13th, 2017

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