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Snapchat: How can your brand leverage this fast growing platform?

When I was a kid, I remember my unbridled excitement when my sister prepared invisible ink at home. I scribbled on paper, put it on the top of a flame, and saw it come into prominence. I chose to treasure everything I wrote with me, it was going to be precious I thought, who knew it would only last a couple of days. Yes, the ink disappeared as if it has secretly done its job of sweeping me off my feet, without caring much about my not-so-secret words. Even my sister didn’t have the answer to what made the ink disappear, as she conveniently blamed some chemical reaction for the treachery.

 Not many years back, Snapchat decided to answer the question I had lost hopes of finding an answer to, and made the disappearing, fleeting messages a revelation. When 150 million users worldwide are active on a platform, sharing as much as 9,000 snaps per second, spending an average of 30 minutes online, you begin to wonder if it’s a revelation or a revolution. What started off as a teenagers’ machine for privy conversations, is increasingly becoming the modern marketer’s must-have marketing mantra. However, before you get a Snapcode avatar for your brand, you may consider weighing in certain factors.

Gen Z or the ‘Millennial’ Appeal 

One look at the logo of Snapchat, and you know it is not an app for the old school folks. In fact, Snapchat ranks ahead of Twitter and Tumblr in terms of millennial user engagement. Everything about the brand, right from the colour to the design elements used, utters the word ‘youth’ loud and clear. It’s not a surprise that a majority of Snapchat users are under 24 years of age, and 35% of Snapchat users use it because their content disappears after a certain time frame, ahem ahem! Moreover, users of this age group are not as likely to watch TV and would rather remain stuck to their Wi-Fi gadgets. Rest assured, Snapchat can’t go wrong if you have something bold and funky in mind for your brand.

How does this help you engage your audience better?

Video Content aligns well with the future

Snapchat has its eyes affixed on becoming a major player in the video marketing arena. It’s latest product Snap spectacles further testifies this fact, enabling users to record what they see and share their 10 seconders. There’s no denying the fact that video marketing is increasingly used by marketers these days. An average user is exposed to 32.2 videos per month, giving marketers a chance to communicate more in less time. Big media players like Dailymail, Buzzfeed and MTV are already out there on Snapchat with short videos generally serving as a prelude to their content. The likability of users sharing videos is also higher compared to the conventional social media platforms, due to the way it interacts with the user, making Snapchat an excellent platform for interactive video marketing.

Snapcodes

What may initially seem to be a ghost-like figure to you, promises to solve your integrated marketing worries. Yes, Snapcodes are a great way to engage with your audience across different mediums. Here’s what Huffington Post did to land its followers onto their Snapchat profile – change their Twitter profile picture to that of a Snapcode. The idea of using a Snapcode to add someone on Snapchat, is new and can be used in even newer ways by marketers. Sprite used this in Brazil by imprinting Snapcodes on the Sprite cans, enabling users to add new friends on Snapchat. What made this special was the element of surprise, as Snapcode alone doesn’t reveal much about the person, does it? So then; marketing across mediums, check. User engagement, check.

 Fun with Filters

Filters have undoubtedly given Snapchat the cutting edge in social media world, having been used excessively by users everywhere. So much so, that the arrival of geofilters was almost imminent. As the name suggests, geofilters are one of the best thing to happen to location based mobile marketing. You get a unique Snapcode when you sponsor a filter, which you need to place at the right place (print ads, packaging et al) and you enable your target audience to place the sponsored filter on top of their Snaps. Not only, this Snapcode directly leads to the filter, but it gives marketers data on how many people use and see and use a Snapchat campaign. Netflix recently used a branded filter in a promotional activity for one of its TV shows, and was able to reach more than 5,00,000 people in a single day. Talk about figures!

 By now, you should have gotten a fair idea of how much Snapchat is relevant for your brand. To sum it up, Snapchat isn’t quite your thing if your target audience is people above 35 years of age, making it a not-so-relevant platform for health insurance brands, high-end premium brands etc. However, you’re more likely to hit a homerun if your brand falls in the fashion, education, telecommunication, lifestyle or other youth

oriented sectors. Some of the top brands all over the world have already allocated Snapchat budgets to their marketing kitty, and if you feel your brand fits the bill, go ahead and Snap your way into it. However, before you go ahead and devise a Snapchat content strategy for your brand, it is important to have a closer look at the potential opportunities that may be in store for you on this medium. Let’s shed some light upon them.

But, wait? Where’s the ROI in this?

One of the biggest worries of any marketer, when exploring a new platform, is if he or she would be getting the right returns on investment. Many marketers still consider Snapchat an expensive medium, as a video made for this medium is exclusive to it, because of its inability to get adopted across mediums due to the vertical form. However, Snapchat has taken a number of initiatives lately to make it a viable platform for marketers. Snap ads are of course the most common form of branded content on Snapchat, followed by branded geofilters (which we’ve already discussed) and lenses.

 Snapchat recently launched its API (application programming interface) that has enabled agencies market ads on behalf of the brands. One of the highlights of this API is the benefit of creative variance, also known as A/B testing. It enables you to test multiple creative concepts at the same time (just in case the agency has multiple creatives on a single account), basis which you can tailor your budgets and spends going forward. There are also new ways in which you can reach out to your target group, including sequential messaging – a new way of remarketing where video ads will only reach people who have engaged with your brand on Snapchat in some way, and interest based targeting.

 The word is that Snapchat has deliberately opted out of conventional remarketing, where the same ad hits the user across several platforms. The CEO of Snapchat feels it’s creepy! Mr. Google and Mr. Facebook, you guys listening?

Engaging at PoP

There has been an increasing trend to showcase the product benefits at the point of purchase through the likes of ‘how to use’ videos, particularly by the e-commerce players. Similarly, one could use a Snap ad to tout the features of a brand through storytelling, with an additional swipe-up redirecting to the product itself. Such approach should definitely work for a fashion brand, especially with Snapchatters watching as much as 10 billion videos per day.

 Gamifying your Game

Mobile games are one of the most common forms of pastimes these days, especially among youth. The massive success of Angry birds and Pokemon Go only adds more substance to the statement. Snapchat hasn’t fully utilised the gaming space but there’s a definite potential that can be foreseen here. Gatorade partnered with Snapchat to celebrate Serena Williams’ 23rd Grand Slam victory by creating an 8-bit video game which the users could play by swiping up the Snap ads. Result – fab engagement, that translates to an excess of 28 million top Snap views.

 Employee Engagement and Recruitment

There are two prime reasons because of which recruiting through Snapchat is a good option. First, the young talent pool is likely to be present on Snapchat. Second, it is much easier for the recruiter to shortlist from a 10-second candidate Snap than a copious resume. As a matter of fact, Snapchat had itself placed geofilters in the vicinity of Uber headquarters to poach good talent, with the filter very shrewdly pushing the jobs link on the their website. Similarly, CISCO had its employees takeover its Snapchat account, where a new employee story was shared every 24 hours. The initiative turned to be a success, besides connecting its employees on the grounds of organisational culture.

 Live Engagement

While it’s true that Facebook Live and Periscope are predominantly used to broadcast live events, Snapchat is emerging as a promising platform to cover live events as well. The differentiating edge Snapchat has, is that it shares snippets from the live event rather than a live stream of the event itself. Snapchat worked with Live nation, a live events company, to promote 18 events around the world, and in turn received over 1.5 million submission from attendees, allowing the curator to pick the best from the lot. In order to make your stories viral, you can always involve the event sponsors and their brand ambassadors to endorse the content on their respective channels. Additionally, Snapchat creates geo-fenced filters for these events allowing the attendees to flaunt their presence in the event. Snapchat treats Live stories as premium content, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes the favorite for covering events.

 More Playtime

If around 40% of Snapchat users belong to the 18-34 age group, there’s definitely some leeway for brands to exercise their creative freedom. We’ve already talked our bit about Snap ads and geofilters; the third option marketers have is sponsored lenses. It’s a universal fact that people love to take selfies, and a close to universal fact that Snapchatters love to put filters on top of their selfies, with an average user spending around 20 seconds playing with a sponsored lens. Brands like Taco Bell and Michael Kors have already used sponsored filters to engage with their audience.

 Michael Kors partnered with Snapchat to promote their new sunglasses – Kendal II, on the occasion of National Sunglasses Day, by creating filters corresponding to different shades of the glasses. This activity generated more than 104 million views among Snapchatters. Universal’s partnership with Snapchat to promote its animation film The Secret Life of Pets was also a massive success, as it allowed users to create Petmojis, version 2.0 of emojis, and send their new pet pals to friends, making an average user spend 72 seconds with the Petmoji creation tool. Just in case you are thinking people are bored of using emoticons and taking selfies, think again!

 All in all, Snapchat’s showing all the signs of being an emerging social media platform, particularly for youth. The number of users in India is estimated to be around 4 million with a global growth of approximately 30% in the last year. At this pace, it is catching up fast with the Facebooks and Twitters. So then, is it the next big thing in digital marketing? Well, I’ll leave that up to you.

Contributed by: Shivam K., GenY Medium

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