How platforms like Snapchat expand business communicationsFebruary 13th, 2017
New digital communication platforms have enabled businesses (and not-for-profits and government agencies) to communicate long and short-term strategies, new products or services, and even thoughts on important social issues to the masses at unprecedented rates. Even a decade ago, it was inconceivable that a small rug business in Cincinnati, Ohio, or a newly launched, modest community center in Southeast Arkansas could reach potential consumers or donors thousands of miles away across the United States (and globe) instantaneously. With the advent of platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter, organizations can communicate their core practices to billions of people inexpensively, and heads of state can announce important matters of public policy to voters and world leaders alike instantly, and succinctly, in 140 characters (or fewer!).
Snapchat, with its near 150 million users, can significantly lower barriers to entry for new competitors into various marketplaces by giving them an inexpensive platform with international reach. For example, a nascent business with a limited advertising budget but with broad appeal can tailor its message and strategy effectively for appropriate audiences using the platform. In many respects, popular digital platforms also expedite the free market’s efficiency by communicating a product or services marquee advantages (or uselessness) to a widespread audience, allowing it to judge its utility at a moment’s notice.
Traditional modes of advertising – radio, television, and billboards – have significant limitations and can be quite costly. With all three mediums, companies-especially ones with meager advertising budgets-are limited to immediate or limited geographic areas. Whereas a captivating social media campaign can potentially go viral, and an innovative product or service can gain tremendous traction at breakneck speeds. Using new digital platforms can enable well-established companies to communicate to broader audiences in overt and subtle ways. An institution with a storied history that might typically convey a more traditional image can appear current by posting images on Instagram, or by launching a new line of products by Tweeting.
Although digital communication platforms can saturate markets with flimsy ideas, can leave near permanent footprints when companies (or people) display poor judgment, and can otherwise help promote inane concepts, their existence affords organizations unprecedented access to the world. A 21st century chic sock manufacturer can now attain the admiration, and hard earned dollars, of trendy teenagers in Tehran, and fashionistas in Milan simultaneously.
Alen Amini (T’18) is a dual-degree MBA/MPP student at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. This past summer, Alen worked at the White House in the National Economic Council on the economic and technology portfolio. Prior to Tuck, Alen was a high school math teacher and vice principal with Teach For America, ran his family’s small rug business, and was executive director of the Southeast Arkansas Community Foundation.