This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center

Though much strategic communication research has explored how brands use social media, less research has explored why brands choose to adopt new social media platforms for strategic communication purposes. To better understand what influences communication professionals to use and embrace new social media platforms, this study consisted of interviews with social media managers and consultants about their organizations’ decisions to use Snapchat – a fairly new social media platform that organizations and individuals have rapidly adopted. Using the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) approach within the context of strategic communication, this study demonstrated that social processes within organizations (i.e. norms, agenda, and culture) and Snapchat’s materiality (i.e. features, benefits, and constraints) influenced organizational decisions to adopt the platform.

The researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 23 social media managers and consultants who work for organizations whose Snapchat accounts have been highlighted in traditional media and trade publications or recognized by industry award competitions. Using open coding and thematic analysis, the researchers identified major themes that emerged from the interview transcripts.

Key Findings
·      Some participants said their organizations decided to adopt Snapchat to generate brand awareness and target younger audiences. Others said management at their organizations encouraged them to adopt the platform.
·      Recognizing that the aesthetic of Snapchat is more “raw and unplanned” than other social media platforms like Instagram where content is typically more polished and edited, some participants expressed hesitation about the impact of such content on their brand image.
·      However, other participants appreciated that Snapchat’s aesthetic allows for more flexibility. They discussed using the platform to give followers behind-the-scenes looks at their organizations and spur-of-the-moment occurrences.
·      A significant challenge that participants mentioned was Snapchat’s poor metrics, which make evaluating performance and justifying the time investment difficult.
·      Snapchat features, such as geofilters, stories, and direct messages, drew communication professionals to the platform.

Implications for Practice
When communication professionals are deciding whether to adopt a new communication platform, they should evaluate organizational norms, agendas, and culture that define the process of strategic communication at their particular organizations. When speaking with colleagues or management about the adoption of a new platform, communication professionals should explain what role the platform will play in strategy. Then, before adopting a new social media platform, communication professionals should consider the platform’s features, benefits, and constraints and determine whether the platform will assist them in accomplishing their communication goals.

New social media platforms can potentially provide communication professionals with innovative ways to connect with their target audiences. Experienced communicators might consider adopting new social media platforms to provide followers with a different flavor of content rather than using the platform in the same routine way they use other social media platforms. Initial experimentation with the new social media platform may prove useful.

Wilson, C., Brubaker, P., and Smith, B. (2020). Cracking the Snapcode: Understanding the Organizational and Technological Influences of Strategic Social Media Adoption. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 14(1), 41-59.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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