By Caitilin Doherty, Edelman London
Snapchat has risen in popularity with its “disappearing act,” attracting millions of users. While it was not initially designed as a platform brands could easily engage on, newly added features and a $19 billion valuation as reported by Bloomberg raises the question of why more brands aren’t on board.
Snapchat offers brands an opportunity to engage one-on-one with its audience. Not only do users have complete control over who they want to see content from, they also have no idea who else is viewing that Snap. It becomes a more intimate conversation between the brand and the audience.
1. Back to Basics
The tried and true sponsored ad approach to amplifying content has enabled brands to take a more traditional route to engagement on Snapchat. However, it is not the type of platform that you can use any and all content on. The key is to be authentic and, most importantly, relevant to your audience. The sponsored ads will appear in users “Recent Updates,” but be aware that you will quickly lose your audience if you don’t become the ”friend” whose content they can’t wait to open. The biggest differentiator for the platform is a model built around the idea of connected engagement versus reach and frequency.
2. Tell Your Story
While the “My Stories” feature first showed up in 2013, it has definitely found popularity within the app and continues to offer a unique opportunity for brands. Linking multiple snaps together over a 24-hour period has driven billions of views in a day. This feature offers unique ways to engage, with brands creatively developing campaigns that tie directly to the limited viewing time of this feature.
Audi’s partnership with The Onion for this year’s Super Bowl was a great example of how a brand found a new way to insert itself into social conversations. Audi moved away from a traditional ad placement on one of the biggest TV viewership days of the year and offered content to audiences who wouldn’t typically engage. Drawing in users with jokes about real-time aspects of the game and halftime show, which opened the conversations for anyone to get involved. They understood the real-time advantage of creating content that users would want to receive, and how going beyond product placement would yield a much greater return for their efforts.
3. Live Action
Building off the “My Stories” feature, brands can also choose to sponsor events with the “Our Story” option. Originally designed so that users who are at the same event location can contribute their Snaps to the same feed, it has recently evolved to allow brands to participate. Brought to life in 10-second interstitial title snaps, the sponsored content is then interlaced through the user-generated content. In the name of transparency, the sponsor is always clearly identified. The one thing to keep in mind is the importance of leveraging content directly from the event, as opposed to pre-produced content, to stay relevant to your audience in that moment in time.
Samsung* was one of the first brands to utilize the popularity of the “Live” section of the “Our Story” feature at last year’s AMAs. Providing a stream of posts from the awards show, including user-generated shots from the crowd and red carpet, Samsung promoted its Galaxy smartphone series. This was the first time that a live event took user-generated content and sprinkled it with branded content for one big socially driven share session.
Image via TechCrunch
4. Get Discovered
As mentioned in a previous Friday5, Snapchat recently introduced the “Discover” feature as a way to explore stories from media publishers. Coined by Snapchat as “a storytelling format that puts the narrative first” and not your typical social media feed, this is whole new way to look at Snapchat. You can already view content from ESPN, Food Network, Comedy Central, People Magazine, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, CNN, Vice, The Daily Mail, and Yahoo.
With popular media outlets publishing the content, Snapchat moves from a peer-to-peer content sharing platform to a news provider. Brands may also be organically featured at the discretion of the editorial teams who feed the stories into their channel. There is a paid component, as the feature is ad-supported, with most editions showing a video ad every few pages. With users following these brands, the “Discover” feature offers an engaging way to offer up text and video on a platform that audiences want to be on.
5. Expand Possibilities
With all of these features re-inventing the way users and brands can engage on the platform, the next step is to get creative. Already, brands are finding ways to expand on the features you can use on Snapchat.
To stay ahead of the curve, look at ways Snapchat can expand your current social ecosystem, or even become a new full-time engagement platform.
GrubHub* uses the platform to stay authentic, keeping on message with its very honest approach to social, and directly engages with its audience. From rewarding its followers with promo codes to sending out custom doodles, they understand the unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Image credit: Snapchat