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Snapchat, the equally popular and controversial photo-sharing site, has edged out Facebook in being the most frequently used platform to upload photos.

Out of 809m daily photo uploads in November 2013 so far, Snapchat has a 49% share (accounting for approximately 400m daily uploads), with Facebook now at 43%. 

This 400m figure has grown from the reported 350m in September 2013 and a previous figure of 200m in June 2013.

It should be noted that Facebook actually owns Instagram, which currently holds a separate 7% share of the pie, so combined they have a 50% share. That not withstanding, this is an incredible success for Snapchat.

What does this mean for brands?

Our own David Moth reported a couple of months ago on seven brands that have jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon. In this article he remains fairly skeptical about the platform:

Personally I think it’s a social network too far and that brands should leave it well alone, but marketers will always want to follow their consumers and jump on-board with trendy new apps.

The best of these forays into Snapchat seem to be either competition or incentive based: Co-operative’s campaign that gave users eight seconds to write down a discount code, Acura giving 100 users an exclusive first-look at it latest supercar, 16 Handles running a competition that encouraged users to send in their own pictures of frozen yogurt to then receive a discount code in a Snapchat photo that expired after eight seconds. It's all a fascinating experiment.

It’s interesting to think there’s a sole employee on a smartphone at the other end, imbedded in the brand’s social team, who receives these Snapchats and only has eight seconds to decide if they’re worthy of winning.

It’s also depressing to think, being as the user can also reply to brand-sent Snapchats, of the same employee receiving goodness knows what images from a user long after the campaign has ended. 

Because of the transient nature of Snapchat, where the photo disappears from existence after eight seconds, it’s far more open to abuse than Instagram or Facebook, as the Snapchat theoretically doesn’t leave a digital footprint and offending photos are harder to trace.


Sure. Tonnes of it…

As discussed above, the fact that Snapchats disappear into the ether once they’ve been opened is exponentially more open to abuse than other platforms.

Claims by many that the app is a perfect vehicle for unsolicited sexting are possibly over-inflated, and every technology ever invented is soon exploited for its pornographic potential, however the more serious accusations that abusive Snapchats make cyber-bullying harder to prove are very real and understandable.

For business concerns, Snapchat has yet to reveal how many people actually use its app, instead they choose to reveal how many photos are uploaded a day. This can be a difficult metric for brands to judge, and subsequently invest in, as you can’t tell if it’s just a relatively small pool of early and passionate adopters who they’ll be marketing to.

There are some independent estimates though. The most recent being Onavo’s claim that Snapchat was being used by 20.8% of iPhones in the US in August, making it the eighth most popular app on iOS.

Snapchat remains resolutely independent. It has turned down two offers from Facebook. The last offer was $3 billion, for cash! Snapchat also hasn’t made any money yet. There are no ads, it doesn’t cost anything to download the app nor does it offer in-app purchases. Snapchat is funded by an increasingly enthusiastic and generous group of venture capital firms.

This surely won’t be true for long though, Snapchat is toying with the idea of native advertising and in-app purchases, although how much this will turn-off existing users who are used to a free experience remains to be seen. Plus there is increasing competition out there in the ephemeral messaging market: WhatsApp, Kik, Facebook Messenger, so Snapchat may find it has painted itself into a corner here.

Finally (probably not finally, but for now it is) Snapchat is being sued by one of its founders, and the cloud of litigation is showing little sign of dispersion yet. However similar controversy hasn’t really done Facebook any harm, has it now?

In conclusion…

Is Snapchat useful for your brand? My gut instinct would say no. 

It’s not because of the above controversies either, matters like this rarely impact on the financial success of a truly innovative idea, it’s more that there’s so many, better platforms out there that have yet to be tapped for their true potential: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest… even Facebook has life left in the old dog yet.

Many companies still have so much to learn about using the already established social media networks, and something so flippant and fleeting as Snapchat seems like a waste of time and investment.

Leave Snapchat for the kids who want to message each other one-to-one away from a digital platform that places their interactions on permanent record, and instead concentrate on marketing strategies for social platforms that offer longer-lasting, meaningful interaction.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 20 November, 2013 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (5)


Carmella Lanni

Just a timely article, as I was having a discussion on Snapchat and brand awareness on Twitter yesterday. In fact, that person shared your article this morning!

I'm not sure if it's something my company would take on. Then again, we're big on visual storytelling. So it could be doable, but the limitations of the app and reporting would probably be roadblocks.

How much do you think demographics play into whether a brand should or should not roll Snapchat into its social media strategy? Is there an age limit on it?

almost 3 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

Snapchat is pretty cagey on who is actually using the app, so it's all anecdotal based. Personally I think it's a bit of a waste of time for brands, but hey, I'm more than willing to be proved wrong.

almost 3 years ago

Edward Longley

Edward Longley, Digital professional at Freelance

It would be pretty low down my list of platforms to experiment on.

I'd only look to do so if I was either confident that I had got the most from the other more established platforms, and this wasn't at the expense of time or budget that I knew would be successful ; or I was keen to learn how the platform worked, and was confident that I could get a campaign out of the door with minimal brand reputational risk and cost, and my target audience would respond to it - without leaving on ongoing legacy of maintenance.I can see why Lynx hopped on it.

As marketers, striking the balance between the "bankers" and the tests is always a challenge. But that's what keeps it fun!

almost 3 years ago


Ben Goodwin

I give it 6 months before Snapchat will launch an interface for brands. It'll do something like allow you to send to a list of phone numbers you've got opted in and won't allow the user to reply or see your number.

almost 3 years ago



I really don't get the app at all - and why they didn't sell when they had the chance I don't get. It's a complete fad and will be gone soon...just a blip on the internet timeline.

I suspect that 95% of pictures sent are under 17 year old (predominantly girls of school age).

Is it really a tool for business?

almost 3 years ago

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