In the flawlessly directed universe of social media, Snapchat seems like a cheeky underdog everyone’s quietly rooting for. With humble beginnings and a rather simple concept, this newcomer has started a long-awaited revolution in the community, and by the looks of it, it managed to return social media to its roots – to spontaneous, unsponsored and unedited online mingling.
According to Bloomberg, this platform now hosts 100 million active users each month, and brands, be they small or big, personal or corporate, are starting to realize that all the buzz is now happening right here, in the 10 second long stories of Snapchat.
When contrasted and compared, leading platforms of the niche certainly showcase quite different potentials for brand promotion. Both Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram, have launched their business-friendly features a long time ago, thus becoming immense social media moguls when it comes to content marketing and brand-building.
Yet, the question remains – is it really what audiences want? Currently, a vast majority of users is engaging with big brands through these platforms simply because they have no other option. With Snapchat, things are a bit different.
Established in 2012, Snapchat was quickly classified as the new “sexting app” and mostly avoided by social media-savvy users. By the end of 2015, however, this platform had already welcomed a wide crowd of millennials, primarily, and both celebrities and big brands were quick to follow their target audiences.
Today, Snapchat is the next big feat for content marketers – devised as a community of a small, core audience tired of heavily edited perfection that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are based upon, this platform doesn’t make it so easy for brands to ride the gravy train.
So, why make an effort? For now, the numbers are clear – with 10 billion views every day, Snapchat videos are steadily winning the social media battle against Facebook’s 8 million. Furthermore, the current number of users downloading the app is actually surpassing the number of those downloading Twitter. With 9000 snaps shared per second and the current value of $16 billion, Snapchat is where we’ll all be heading soon.
As mentioned before, the idea behind Snapchat is a quite simple one – the app allows you to share 10 second photos or videos with your platform friends. Even though the app offers an exciting plethora of filters, stickers and captions, the unwritten rule of Snapchat is authenticity. Simultaneously, it’s what makes this platform different and appealing. Instead of perfect selfies and professionally shot campaigns, Snapchat content is mostly unedited and raw.
In addition to this, the platform functions on the disappearing principle, which means that everything you post is time-limited and will vanish quickly. The longest viewing time any photo or video has is 24 hours, and that complies only with a special Snapchat Stories feature that allows you to create a multi-fragment narrative out of everything you post during the course of one day.
Consequently, such an organic approach suggests immediateness and a fast pace of storytelling. And above all, creativity.
Apart from authenticity, the Snapchat community respects a number of additional informal rules, all of which make this platform an exclusive one. Celebrities, influencers and brands are not given special treatment – to become a relevant member, you’ll need to make an effort, be creative and think fast. Here’s how some of the biggest brands are doing it.
Converting your logo to a Snapchat ghost is currently the hippest thing you can do. Simultaneously, it’s the best way of building your following – by sharing your brand’s ghost, which functions as this platform’s version of a QR code, Snapchat users can scan your unique Snapcode and connect with your brand. It’s not only easy and convenient, but fun as well.
Joining the Snapchat frenzy quite quickly, McDonalds and KFC were among first to launch their own branded filters. Whether a simple frame or an animated filter, these brand features have become a staple to personalized content creation on the platform. Recently, the possibility has been made even more creative with Snapchat’s Geofilters, available to users only within a set radius and customizable according to a given location or time. Quirky, effortless and amusing for Snapchatters, it’s user-generated content at its best.
What exclusive Comic-Con teasers are to publicly launched movie trailers, Snapchat’s 10 second videos are to professionally produced ads – an exclusive, never before seen hint of something great coming along that everyone wants to be the first to see. And since this platform is all about authenticity, you won’t have to bother with expensive production; instead, you can simply post a behind the scenes material of your newest product getting prepared for a big public blast.
Just like product teasers, your brand’s newest offers, promotions and discounts can generate major buzz if transformed into snaps. The mere fact that Snapchat posts are pretty fleeting creates a whole new level of excitement and turns your campaign into a scavenger hunt. Once you post a snap of a discount, your platform friends can screenshot it and use it as a coupon. Given that they’ll only have a short period of time to do so can make your campaign a lot more engaging.
Instead of producing one-end promotional content, GrubHub is a successful Snapchat brand that knows how to make their campaigns engaging and fun, consequently earning the envious highest score of any brand on the platform. Using a Snapchat Story feature, for instance, GrubHub has invited their followers to snap back a food doodle, out of which 10 random snaps posted before 12 a.m. will win an award. Only one of numerous examples, this promotional campaign showcases just how opportune Snapchat is for building interactive relationships with your customers.
For both users and brands, the pure beauty of Snapchat is that the majority of content created, posted and shared on the platform is user-generated. Branded filters utilize this advantage to the greatest extent, but Snapchat Story is a feature equally suitable for this type of advertising. Take Coachella festival, for instance.
While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provided an opportunity for Coachella to post mind-blowing and quite photo-shopped images to broadcast a bit of atmosphere from the site, Snapchat has made it possible for their brand to include plenty of authenticity. The whole coverage was delivered in the form of a Snapchat Story that used nothing but a montage of 10 second snaps posted by festival goers themselves.
When it comes to marketing, nothing has more potential than user-generated content – it’s how you gain social proof, build trust and entice new followers.
Once you’ve built trust with your following, you can feel free to explore the platform’s newest brand feature, Snapchat Discover. Made as a paid location on the platform, this feature is perfect for content-heavy brands that always have more to say, share and offer. The key difference in comparison to Snapchat’s “authenticity” rule here is that you can actually post professionally-made content that will appear on a page separated from the snaps posted by non-brand users.
Until recently, the page showcased only brand logos and the events they capture, but with the newest redesign, the Discover seems significantly more enticing. The combination of images, ads, articles and videos available goes quite beyond the usual Snapchat environment, but still doesn’t violate the platform’s uniquely dynamic character.
The reason Snapchat’s grown to be so popular is exactly the possibility of building more personal connections with other users of the platform. With the exception of Discover, the app disallows you to repost content generated on other platforms, which is why everything you create here has to be original, unique and appealing.
And, since everything you share is time-limited, you don’t have any space for slips. It’s certain that Snapchat users favor quality over quantity, and if you manage to stay interesting in such an environment, all the while keeping it real and spontaneous, your audience will know you’re not joking around.
Not only will they respect that, but getting them convinced that your motives are not necessarily ulterior, but honest instead, is customer trust building 101.
Despite a whole array of possibilities, Snapchat is still somewhat overlooked by small brands. Nevertheless, it’s a platform worth exploring for the purposes of branded content marketing, exactly because of its set of unwritten, yet strict rules.
If mastered, they offer a bit for both sides – better engagement and exclusivity for brands, organic, native content that can’t be found anywhere else for users and, ultimately, a personal connection for both. In terms of brand building, these advantages are too good to be missed out on.
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