September 27, 2014

If it were up to the app developers,  we would all spend every second of every day facebooking, tweeting, instagramming, pinterest-ing (really? Are we still doing that?), snapchatting and whatever comes next.

But from the point of view of a business, just downloading the app, and popping up a couple of posts barely touches the sides of social media.

So,  via social media (how meta!) I asked about topics people may find to be of interest for this blog. And @vineyardpaul asked about Snapchat as a social media channel for wineries.

I use social media a LOT. I personally see little value in Snapchat. It seems like a version of Instagram targeted at kids sending vaguely not-safe-for-school pictures.  In terms of branding, or marketing, it seems like it may have applications for large commercial ventures with huge existing market presence – post a deal, or a limited offer to those already following you to get a bonus something. Immediate, onsite rewards.

But the pictures disappear. And if you are using a social media channel purely to give bonuses/discounts/freebies, then I think this would count most wineries out of the picture. Pun intended.

And, the pictures disappear. Even if the business is using the Stories feature,  they still disappear in 24 hours.

So, the application must be treated as one-off, opportunistic marketing. And unless the wines are already in front of the targeted Snapchat user. Which means a representative of the brand is likely nearby. Who could be talking and engaging rather than using an app to sell a freebie.

It feels like there may be opportunities at large events. Maybe. One day. But the majority of the users are:

A. In America; and
B. Underage.

Around fifty percent of users are under the legal age to purchase alcohol in most countries.

So, back to the really basic question when it comes to social media: what do you, as a business,  expect your time spent on social media to generate? What is this target worth to you – financially? And is the time spent on it worth the reward to the business?

I do not see Snapchat to be of any value now, and due to its current demographics, do not expect that to change. Current users are mostly in the 13-17 age bracket. As they grow up, I’m not entirely sure I see Snapchat growing with them. New apps are coming,  and unless Snapchat can evolve past its current teeny-bopper fixation, the kids will move on too.  Adults rarely look to teenagers to find the next social media channel for them – personally, or as a business.

I think Snapchat may fall victim to its own marketing and targeted channels as they grow up and move on. Unless – and this is very possible – the app developers can evolve.

But when it comes to social media, the key warning is to value the effort. It takes time. Time to understand the medium, and optimise your time spent on it. Time to gain followers or likes until they reach tipping point, and the time spent actually earns a return for the business.

Time wasted, often.

If you value your business, you must value yourself as an employee. And your time spent – even on free social media apps – comes at a cost.  Either a dollar figure (always viable), or as the opportunity cost of using that time on more tangible tasks.

A buzz about your business can be a great thing. Turning it into income, however, must be the goal.

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