Snappy Korea – Some thoughts on the rise of snap apps in Korea

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Let’s be clear — no one uses Snapchat in Korea. But the “snap” as a form of media is incredibly popular here, as evidenced by the heated battle between apps like Snow and B612, both armed to the teeth with capital, creative energy and passion.

In fact, it has been reported that Facebook attempted to buy out Snow for 3 billion dollars, only to be rejected, and that Snow is the fastest app ever to claim 100 million downloads and an MAU of 50 million, most of which come from the CJK regions.

As we witness the rise of the snap in Korea and the greater Northeast Asian region, the possible marketing tie-ins of the medium seem both exciting and daunting. On one hand you have the extremely enticing potential of a platform with 50 million MAU(!) who are for the most part young (early teens to late twenties), impressionable and extremely active. They are also difficult to reach through the traditional avenue of Facebook, as many have rejected the venerable platform as an “older” brand.

2015 data from Mobidays. 50% of Facebook’s Korean user base is older than 30 years of age.

On the other hand you have the fear of unknown. We have yet to see any official game accounts take advantage of a platform like Snow to deliver advertising or guerilla marketing content. Perhaps it is because there is great uncertainty as to what position a snap platform account would take in a coordinated social media strategy. If a Facebook fanpage serves as a home base and Instagram works like a shopping catalog, then what should a snap account do?

At the same time, it may be possible that game companies are simply unaware of the potential of a snap-based platform. After all, most marketing leaders are from a generation that fundamentally cannot comprehend the appeal of a snap. For this older generation, Facebook and its ability to immortalize memories is the epitome of what social media should be. Snaps destroy memories. Why would anyone want to use it?

So before we discuss marketing strategies with an app like Snow (in a future post), let’s review. What is a snap?

  1. A snap is an image, video or gif
  2. It is not accompanied by copy, ie the text from a Facebook or Instagram post.
  3. Instead, a snap can include captions within the image.
  4. Snaps are almost always edited with stickers or filters.
  5. Snaps are ephemeral and self destruct.

These are the parameters that define the snap as a content form. And just as the parameters of a haiku or a tweet dictate a certain precision in content, the parameters of a snap dictate a certain form of social media interaction:

  1. Because snaps disappear, there is less of a burden to present a more perfect image of yourself. This contrasts sharply with Facebook/Instagram, whose permanence demands a higher level of beauty/happiness/positivity from the content you upload.
  2. Because there is less of a burden to look perfect, you can “screw around” more and therefore be more authentic.
  3. Because the content keeps disappearing, it forces followers to constantly engage with the content creator. There are no reruns in this show, no archive — or at least, the conditions for re-experiencing a snap are difficult to access by default.
  4. It is experiential. Everyone talks about the experience economy, but what about the experience media? A snap is something you experience, and if you want to cherish a certain aspect of that experience, you save it and post it to Instagram or Facebook.
  5. The elevation from experience to memory is determined by the viewer, not the content creator. This contrasts with Facebook or Instagram, where everything the content creator posts is by default an immortalized memory. In that sense, it provides more experience-er control.

Of course, these rules are our opinions. But whatever it is we do with the snap from a marketing perspective, whether it be through traditional ads or through influencers, the content we provide should follow the parameters of the medium.

What do you think?

Daniel So (@d_so) (@latisglobal)


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  • Espn

    Alirght alright alright that’s exactly what I needed!

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