Snapchat, My Mom, & Why it Matters?

What does Snapchat, Millennials, my Mother (hey Mom), and marketing all have to do with one another?

Millennials love to be different, want to be unique, and look for every medium and platform to tell the world how cool and unique they are, and what they’re doing. Enter, Snapchat, a platform that allows you to post photo or video in a documentary-type style in one second, and have it viewed by hundreds of thousands of people in the next. It’s not as conversational as Twitter, and is a different timeline than Instagram. Personally, I feel for many people, especially the young 12–18 year old demographic, it’s even replacing traditional text messaging as a means of communication. Why text message, when you can send your friends real-time direct photos and videos, with a sentence or caption?

Millennials have grown up with Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, and now Snapchat. They’re used to share pictures and updates in real-time, and these kids (are we still kids?) thrive off of this interaction. That’s why Snapchat has become so popular, it provides the opportunity for instant gratification and sharing. Users can show off how “cool” their Saturday nights at the club are, or stunning shots of their recent vacation to Hawaii.

Enter, Snapchat and Snapchat Geo-filters, the first of their inevitable multiple paid products. When I’m on campus at school at Bryant University, there are two Bryant-themed filters I can overlay on my snaps. Last Christmas season, Snapchat had ornament-style graphics available based on which state you were in. I went home to Western Massachusetts for Christmas, and my snaps had a “MA” ornament filter available to place in the corner to show my followers where I was, home for the holidays. Originally reserved for Snapchat to upload, they’ve recently released their platform for uploading your own custom filters for anything; birthday parties, weddings, and the likes (Read Gary Vaynerchuk’s guide to the new feature here). It’s absurdly cheap, for the potential reach and usability, both for personal use and absolutely for business use.

So what? Users can put cute little borders and graphics on their snaps of them hiking a mountain, or sipping a margarita on a beach somewhere? My mom is a prime time example of this (Hey Mom). Everywhere we go, the first thing she does is pull out her phone, load Snapchat and see what types of filters she gets for that location.

But what she does next is what’s truly intriguing, and is growing. She’ll snap a picture of me and my brother, overlay a filter, and DOWNLOAD IT. Two minutes later, that photo of us & cute little Boston-themed filter are on Facebook, for her friends and family to see. Instantly they know where we are, based on the filter, and 15 comments ensue about having a good time, safe travels, etc.

But again, why does this matter as a marketer?

Assume my mom is in Boston, and one of the Boston-themed filters she finds is sponsored by a small, yet locally popular coffee shop, who has uploaded this Snapchat filter for a 2 mile radius around the shop. The filter features their brand new all-natural iced tea, and its 94 degrees that day. Best case scenario, my mom drags us to the shop for an iced tea. Or she posts that to her story, and a flood of her local Bostonian friends reply, highly recommending the shop, and they get our business that way. It’s a platform with a tough ROI to measure, but does that mean a brand shouldn’t do it at all? Absolutely not. It’s a situation where it will pay dividends in 12–18 to be an early mover on (Again, check out Gary Varynerchuk’s work on this), and become known as the industry standard for advertising on Snapchat as their analytics and advertising platforms continue to develop.

Snapchat is where the attention of the younger generation is, and it’s growing older by the day. The sooner the marketer realizes, understands and embraces this process, both in organic and paid content, the sooner they can execute on this attention, and get a step ahead of the competition.


This blog post originally appeared on my Medium page: