When Snapchat first burst onto the scene in 2012, it attracted millennials and Gen Z-ers in droves. But brands (for the most part) stayed away - they were still trying to harness the power of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And millennials and Gen Z-ers loved having a network all to themselves, a space where they could communicate with their friends all day without any brand interruptions. This peaceful paradise didn’t last too long, however, as brands quickly took notice of Snapchat’s impressive user stats. Younger generations were living and breathing snaps, and brands wanted in. Now with a daily video view rate of 10 billion daily views, brands are experimenting with various storytelling and ad formats to serve always-on content to their growing audiences.
Today, Snapchat is a publicly traded company with an IPO boosted by the network’s ability to secure consistent user engagement. And brands boast features tailor made for brands, including Discover Stories and custom filters and geotags to promote specific events. As of 2016, advertisers were coughing up a minimum of $100,000 to run ads on the platform; a cost well worth the advantage of connecting with two generations aging up and gaining spending power.
In addition to paid promotion, brands are also investing more in their organic content on the brand. Through regular behind-the-scenes stories and influencer takeovers, the platform is giving brands the opportunity to share more relaxed and playful content with audiences. However, some features and storytelling strategies are proving to be more valuable than others. Here are a few lessons you can learn from some of the most successful campaigns and brands on Snapchat.
Real-Time Marketing: Netflix (Gilmore Girls)
To garner even more excitement for the Gilmore Girls Netflix revival ahead of its November 2016 release, the Netflix team enacted a massive offline-meets online Snapchat campaign. Netflix took over 200 cafes and effectively turned them into Luke’s Diner, the Gilmore Girls casts’ main hangout on the show. Each cafe distributed cups with a Snapchat QR code that gave customers access to a custom Luke’s Diner filter on the app. The one day stunt was a massive success as the branded filter was viewed over 880,00 times.
Since 2014, General Electric (GE) has been a brand that has used Snapchat’s storytelling capabilities to the fullest extent. From launching geo-targeted travel filters over the holidays to all-star story appearances from Buzz Aldrin, GE uses Snapchat to educate and entertain their followers about the wonders of science. In 2016, the company even livestreamed a 1,200 foot descent into a volcano on the platform. The channel is not devoted to selling GE products, but rather, its primary intent is to teach audiences interesting lessons - lessons that often entice to audiences to visit GE’s social profiles for more explorations. GE continues to push the boundaries of creative education and video storytelling by utilizing all of Snapchat’s features.
Taco Bell: Sponsored Filters
To celebrate Cinco De Mayo in 2016, Taco Bell launched a giant Taco filter. While the images of people’s heads as tacos were frightening, the filter’s stats were anything but scary. The viral filter racked up 224 million impressions for Snapchat throughout the one-day only marketing campaign. Taco Bell has always been on the cutting edge of Snapchat because it never took itself too seriously on the platform; their ongoing platform success stems from a willingness to get content creative and take risks. It’s content is filled with hand-drawn illustrations and playful copy. And as the Giant Taco filter proved, funny and playful content on Snapchat can generate big brand results.
Snapchat Discover has had a difficult time resonating with the platform’s primary demographics. Perhaps it’s because the intention of Snapchat Discover, to bring news, entertainment, and pop culture coverage to the platform, is so disconnected from why people use Snapchat in the first place: to connect with people through playful fleeting stories. But Snapchat Discover is enticing for brands, because it gives them an opportunity to slip more traditional ads between publishers’ content. Some argue that the wave of publishers is diluting the app, as the more publishers that get added, the less spontaneous Snapchat feels. Since Discover’s 2016 redesign, publishers have seen a 28% drop off after the first story. However, a decrease in engagement has stopped partners from signing up.
While time will only tell if the Discover section becomes less disruptive for Snapchat users, one thing is for certain today: there are other, effective ways to engage with audiences on the network.
What's the Conclusion?
In the coming years Snapchat will only become more valuable to brands. Snapchat is quickly attracting older audiences, which means that the platform’s diversity should attract brands across verticals. The brands that can constantly utilize Snapchat’s features to their fullest extent and experiment with ongoing storytelling angles will be the ones best positioned to transform on-platform engagement into off-platform results.
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