Snapchat:The Next Social Media Phenomenon

Snapchat has quickly rose to popularity since it’s beginnings in 2011. In 2013 Facebook attempted to make the strategic move of buying Snapchat for $3 billion but the app was too clever to give up the possibility of growing further.  Their predictions were correct. There are currently 150 million daily active users and one can assume that the app isn’t stopping any time soon.

But what makes Snapchat so beloved? As a image-based messaging app there are two favorite key features: filters and timed message deletion. The app updates the filters daily with new characters or schemes.  One favorite is a rainbow mouth filter.  It’s regularly kept in rotation in the filters and users are constantly sharing videos on and off the app of this filter. Message deletion is also favored because many people not like the permanency of technology today.  A user can potentially share content that they do not wish to be shared with others and set a time limit of how long it can be viewed.  Snapchat even takes it a step further and alerts the user if the receiving party takes a screenshot of the message/image.

As Snapchat continues to thrive, other top-dog social media platforms face competition.  According to Bloomberg Technology, Twitter was once the second largest social network (with Facebook as #1).  Unlike Twitter, “Snapchat has made communicating more of a game by letting people send annotated selfies and short videos. It has allowed people to use its imaging software to swap faces in a photo, transform themselves into puppies, and barf rainbows”. Twitter takes on a more newsy approach.  Not to mention the majority of the content you share on Twitter is posted for all of your followers to see.  Snapchat has the capability to just send to one individual for privacy.  Twitter has the private messaging option but it is more for utility not for enjoyment.

It’s important to mention too that staying relevant with the younger generations creates the most success for social media platforms.  It could be said that image based sharing has been the most successful (i.e. Instagram, Snapchat, etc).  The marketing firm Martin Wilborne Partners states:

“Snapchat is now the third most popular social app among millennials, with a 32.9% penetration on the demographic’s mobile phones, trailing only Instagram (43.1%) and Facebook (75.6%). This data indicates that the app is now more popular than Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ or Tumblr among those aged 18 to 34. Snapchat’s penetration is even more powerful among the coveted college-aged demographic, with 70% of college students reporting posting on Snapchat at least once a day compared to 11% reporting posting on Facebook with the same frequency.”

However, despite drop off with younger crowds, Twitter has had the advantage on the side of business use. Companies make one or mulitple Twitter accounts But as a mostly light-hearted picture app, how could business take advantage of Snapchat and get in front of young customers? Filters seems to always be the answer.

Recently Bank of America synced up their commercial advertisements with a sponsored filter release on Snapchat.  The user could make themselves look like a llama and the picture was branded.

Starbucks also took advantage of the image functionality of the app and allowed users to become the mermaid in their iconic logo. Companies are ultimately becoming more savvy as users turn to new and different applications.  It is in other businesses best interest to being engaging on Snapchat with filters since trends have shown that it is not dropping from popularity any time soon.


Going Viral

“Viral” has taken on a new meaning in the wake of the internet. What was once considered an illness is now a desired social media instance.  As Merriam Webster states, viral is to”quickly and widely spread or popularize especially by person-to-person electronic communication”.  We see viral content on all sources of social media from Facebook and Twitter to YouTube. Once of the most famous, and arguably one of the first, viral videos on YouTube was “Shoes”.

The viral video has accumulated more than 60 million views, 300,000 likes on YouTube, and countless shares on other social media platforms. But what made shoes so popular? It’s obvious that the content is hilarious and entertaining.  However, so are so many other non-viral videos.  According to Duct Tape Marketing, it’s largely about creativity and timing. Liam Kyle Sullivan, the maker of “Shoes” was successful perhaps was successful because the video was posted during such an early time of YouTube.  However, as Duct Tape Marketing says, viral content often goes viral when the creator isn’t trying too hard.  Sullivan, who has since retired from the viral video life, never intended to have such popular content but was successful none-the-less.

Though Sullivan is not a mainstream star, he is known in the YouTube world.  But that isn’t to say a viral video has not had it’s hand at bringing others to full on fame. In 2008 Justin Bieber was a 13 year old kid playing music, trying to make his dreams of becoming a musician come true. With the help of his YouTube video song cover of Chris Brown’s “with you”, he quickly shot from obscurity into the hearts of thousands of tween girls. Grow Digitally states that Justin Bieber’s YouTube viewership is now more than 2.3 billion, with nearly 52 million views just on that one video.

Beiber is a perfect example of the power of sharing and trending content. His voice captivated one viewer at a time resulting in multiple shares that ultimately led his content into the hands of record producers.

Aside from YouTube, Twitter is a major platform that thrives on viral content.  Twitter specifically has features that assist in showing trending topics and even bring virally shared content to the top of your twitter feed. Traffic Cafe mentions that in order to have a successful viral tweet, photos or graphics help.  So much more information and emotion can be conveyed in a photo and due to the 140 character limit, Twitter is the perfect place to practice brevity.

Harry styles tweet.pngAnother trait of a viral tweet is relevance to pop culture.  If the content is already a trending topic, there is a higher likelihood that the tweet will
tape into this popularity according to Duct Tape Marketing. Harry Styles of  One Direction tapped into this when he tweeted “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22” on his 22nd birthday.  The tweet received just shy of a million likes and 700,000 retweets. The tweeted phrase was already largely famous from the recent release of Taylor Swift’s song “22” and was likely trending on Twitter. Couple this pop culture reference, the trending topic and Harry Styles’ own fame and you have a recipe for a major viral tweet.

As social media overtakes a great portion of the marketing world, more companies are attempting to achieve viral status. Pedigree Dog Food was successful in it’s endevors with it’s tweeted promotion to

So what is the best recipe for viral content? Kissmetrics Blog breaks it down that in order for a viewer to feel compelled to share it must tap into the following:

  • Positive content, which typically has better potential for viral spread, makes the person laugh
  • A post must evoke a high level of emotion (positive or negative) in order to be shared. Angered or very happy responses compel the viewer to share.
  • People share content when they feel that their share could potentially help other (think charities or videos regarding an ill person)

A great example of this is the video posted by The Daily Mail that shows a young man thanking a police officer for saving his life as a child.  The video has received 23 million views on Facebook and was only posted on September 25, 2016. It’s clear the video evokes emotion into the viewer.  The moment is heartwarming and compels so many others to share their sentiments in the comments and to share the video to inspire someone else’s day.

Whether it’s a tweet, a Facebook post, or a YouTube video,  content has the potential to spread quickly with the capability of social media.  The original poster does not necessarily need to be famous and the content does not need to be perfectly orchestrated.  What is important is that it taps into some emotion, whether happy or angry, to give a viewer reason to begin to spread the content.  Once the content begins to trend, it’s viral capability knows no bounds. 

The Evolution of the Coca-Cola Brand

Coca-Cola.  It’s a name known all around the world. But how did a simple soda created in the 1880’s rise to the super star brand we know and love today?

Coca-Cola has always been  a distinguished brand no matter the decade and has created ads that were not only tolerated by the public but beloved.  Take the infamous polar bear:

And who could forget the famous Christmas ads with Coca-Cola Santa?


One major key to Coca-Cola’s success has been their visual branding.  They’re ads are often pictures that work to evoke emotion through little to no words. Coca-Cola also has kept a steady consistency through the decades in their logo use.  Though they refresh their look from time to time,  the iconic swirling “C” and bold red color are distinguished indicators of the brand.

As modern times have demanded more and more from companies to stay relevant among a large amount of competition, Coca-Cola has worked to stay on top as a brand giant in all aspects of social media. Kevin Shively of The Simple Measured Blog agrees that building an audience for such a large brand is not a challenge in the social-sphere, it is to connect and and keep a cohesive brand image throughout the multiple platforms.

On Instagram and YouTube, Coca-cola keeps to what they are best at: creating an experience or story through visuals. They are also sure to keep their Twitter content quite visual as well with nearly every post containing an image, often even the same images shown on Instagram keeping it consistent.  Coca-cola has created multiple Twitter accounts, with their main account boasting 3.28 million followers.  The sub-accounts have purposes of their own to support the brand.  One sub-account, with 853,000 followers, pictures them as humanitarians and philanthropists giving back to the world through donation and volunteerism. This is a smart tactic in today’s market since so many individuals have begun to distrust big businesses.  By showing the company’s giving side, it shows a positive nature to the company’s values. cola-steak-2

Another element to Coca-Cola’s social media success is the level of engagement they are able to achieve.  Across all the Twitter accounts Coca-Cola is frequently posting thousands of tweets to infiltrate their follower’s feeds. Simply Measured finds this has created hundreds of thousands of engagements and billions of impressions.

This plays additionally into Coca-Cola’s success of crowd-sourcing content. Shively of Simply Measured says:

 “Coca-Cola runs campaigns to engage its  audience and generate content that they can share. This is one of my favorite social tactics. Not only are you engaging your current audience and making them a very real part of your brand experience, you’re creating a collection of advocates. I’d bet good money that every single person in this video will Retweet/share/mention this video to their audience, who may not follow Coca-Cola yet.”

Coca-Cola has essentially created an fan club of dedicated customers who advocate for their product because of their feeling on inclusion with the brand.

But if there is one area of media large corporations like Coca-Cola have leveraged to audience in engagements, it’s sports. A perfect example of this is the official Coca-Cola NASCAR Twitter page. Rio coke 2.pngThe brand has linked up with a popularized event that draws it’s own fandom to improve it’s SEO and exposure. Even the Rio Olympics and Paralympics had sponsorship from Coca-Cola. The ad pictured here was posted, presumably, on location in Rio. Twitter user has engaged with the brand and spread their message of partnership with the Olympics further to her followers and others who may search #rio2016.

Whether they are creating the engagement with bold, visual branding or offering their audience to provide content, Coca-Cola has mastered social media use across multiple platforms.


Which came first? Social media or the celebrity?

Celebrities. With the explosion of social media on the internet in the past decade, we can’t escape the images of Kim Kardashian’s perfect makeup contour on Instagram or Jimmy Fallon’s cheeky tweets.  They, and many other celebrities like them, have mastered the importance of supporting their personal brand with a social media presence to keep their audience  involved way past the end of an episode.

However, with the rise of social sites, we’ve seen a new type of celebrity emerge: The Social Media Celebrity.  Ever hear of Jenna Marbles?

Here’s a few others who have made a name for themselves:

So how does it work? Whether these “Social media influencers”, as many call them, blog, Instagram or post videos on YouTube, they are sure to craft a defined personal brand and attempt to offer something unique.  Heather Saul of The Independent points out that it’s not about the amount of followers, its about the number of engagements. For example, viral videos like Jenna Marble’s “How to Trick People into Thinking Your Good Looking” exposed her to an audience and opened the door to create more content for profitable gain.  It was not the amount of followers at the time that made the video successful but the amount of likes, shares, and views. Now with her millions of subscribers on YouTube and followers on Instagram, she needs to create content that compels her followers to share so that it continues to be viewed extensively.

Similar to “Traditional” celebrities, social media influencers sometimes will also use their fame to promote products, whether asked by a company or it’s a product they’ve developed themselves.  Bunny a.k.a Grav3yardgirl rose to fame on YouTube in 2010. Her authenticity, wit, charm, and self love has garnered around 7.6 million subscribers and 1.2 billion views on YouTube and 2.6 million followers on Instagram.  Bunny’s social media fame led her to link up with Tarte Cosmetics and create her own makeup palette.  Bunny now uses her social media platform to promote the product.


Social media influencers also engage in the same behavior big time celebrities do to support their fame: they network.  On YouTube and Instagram, social media influencers often give shout outs to other famous friends and often even link over to their content.  This keeps everyone’s engagement numbers high. Here’s Bunny doing just that with YouTube famous hair stylist Guy Tang.


With all this celebrity fame and, yes, even fortune, are there any drawbacks? Traditional celebrities and social media influencers alike could find that with such a strong spotlight on them, they may one day slip up and say something that their audience may dislike. The viral abilities of social media can spread such a slip up and ultimately damage that individuals image.

Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, damaged the authenticity of her image when it was discovered she used a ghost writer for her first novel. Social media followers demand a certain level of authenticity out of social media influencers because they are considered “real people”.  Heather Saul’s article in The Independant echoes this notion that followers dislike posts that feel contrived because it ends up feeling almost like an advertisement.

So whether they are traditional celebrities or social media famous influencers, their defined brand matters.  Keeping that brand authentic and unique will allow them to continue to grow their fame through the next levels of the social media era.