Navigating Snapchat Risks and Opportunities for Small Businesses

As an app used heavily by teenagers, Snapchat poses unique risks and opportunities for small businesses aiming to ethically market or develop products leveraging its platform. With child safety at the forefront, regulations exist on collecting data from Snapchat‘s core under-18 user base. However, small e-commerce companies, parental control app developers, and other entrepreneurs can still capitalize on Snapchat’s expanding older demographics. This article examines key questionssmall business owners have around the platform.

Demographic Shifts Expanding Snapchat’s Appeal

Launched in 2011, Snapchat quickly gained favor among the hard-to-reach teen demographic, with over 80% of 13-24 year old smartphone owners in the U.S. now using the app. However, recent data indicates a demographic shift. According to Snapchat’s 2020 transparency report:

  • Over 50% of daily active users are now over the age of 25 compared to just 37% in 2016
  • Total daily active users have steadily risen, reaching 265 million in Q2 2020
  • Time spent per user has increased as well, averaging over 30 minutes per day

So while teenagers initially drove Snapchat‘s rise, the app’s future likely relies on continuing to expand its aging user base. What does this mean for small businesses? New opportunities to legally market products to Snapchat‘s larger over-18 audience segment emerge. Still, owners must weigh risks around youth safety and tight regulations in the space.

Why Cyber Safety for Teens Presents Entrepreneurial Obstacles

Protecting privacy and safety for younger demographics creates necessary limitations on how Snapchat can be leveraged for small business ends.

For example, collecting data on children under 13 violates the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), resulting in hefty fines. And mishandling teen user data also draws heavy public scrutiny. Just recently, Snapchat’s parent company paid $35 million to settle a case around illegal teen data collection – hardly pocket change even for large corporations.

Additionally, while over 50% of Snapchat users are now legally adults, the under-18 segment still represents a sizable portion. Small businesses hoping to ethically advertise must consider whether their products or branding risk exposure to younger teens on the platform.

Opportunities Do Exist with the Right Approach

However, with care taken to uphold both safety and regulations around youth data, small business owners can still leverage Snapchat’s platform and shifting user statistics to their benefit. Some entrepreneurial opportunities include:

Marketing Specialized Products to Adult Consumers

  • With over 50% of users now over 25, selectively targeting ads based on interest data can connect relevant brands with legal-aged adult consumers.

Assisting Brands with Influencer Campaigns

  • Snapchat is extremely influential among the Gen Z demographic. Small social media marketing firms can help brands sponsor creators producing content resonating with this valuable segment.

Developing Cyber Safety Products

  • Parental control mobile apps helping guard kids online represent one area poised for growth. Data privacy dashboards to help teens manage security settings also address unmet needs.

Advising Clients on Online Reputation Management

  • With Snapchat usage growing among adult professionals, firms specializing in maintaining positive online presences for individual execs or companies have an opportunity to expand their focus.

Final Thoughts

While the core teen demographic that rocketed Snapchat to success provides some barriers to small businesses due to safety priorities, macro-level shifts in usage trends point to new opportunities as well. Taking an ethical approach that balances safety with innovation focused on the expanding over-25 user segment allows entrepreneurs to find strategic niches leveraging Snapchat’s platform. Regulations aim to protect young users, not prohibit legal adoption by adult consumers and businesses.