Monday, December 14, 2015

The Basics of Snapchat Marketing: Disappearing Stories Making Lasting Impressions

When my friends and I first encountered Snapchat in college, we awkwardly laughed about its premise over dinner conversation. An app that promised to erase photos? Wonder what the founders were thinking…
But here’s the genius of it all: While my friends and I certainly laughed about the more perverse notions of Snapchat, we then proceeded to spend the rest of dinner taking terrifyingly ugly selfies to send to one another. Hey—they disappear forever, right? And we continued to use Snapchat as a new, exciting form of hilarious, visual communication.
It’s a Selfie World, After AllThis past Thanksgiving weekend, about four years after laughing about Snapchat in the dining hall with my friends, I found myself almost colliding head-on with a girl taking a Snapchat video walking through the airport. While that’s perhaps a separate topic meant for another publication, it’s an example of how heavily Snapchat has infiltrated our daily lives. In a world so dominated by selfies and social documentation of experiences, it is no surprise that Snapchat has skyrocketed. Snapchat has made it big, particularly with Millennials.
Snapchat presents a unique opportunity for marketers that cannot be ignored. With over 100 million daily active users, the company has engagement statistics that would make any marketer swoon. What better statistics for content amplification? But, with a platform so dominated by young users and a business model that has been sporadically incorporating monetization and brand buy-ins, most marketers are understandably unsure what exactly to do with Snapchat.
A Snapshot of Snapchat’s EvolutionFor starters, it’s helpful to take a look at how the company has evolved and where brands have begun to play a role in its development:

Snapchat has intermittently experimented with incorporating brands into their business model; consequently, brands are just beginning to test the waters with Snapchat marketing. So, which of these milestone events matter to marketers?
Telling Your Story with…Your StoryIn October 2013, Snapchat launched its Story feature. As a Snapchat user, I remember feeling apprehensive about this addition. It was a “totally new,” bold innovation for Snapchat. But, I quickly found that the Story interface was the part of the app I used the most. I found myself clicking through every Story on my Snapchat Story interface, even if just to clear them from my queue. Did I mention Snapchat is genius?
With its launch, Snapchat wrote: “Snapchat Stories add Snaps together to create a narrative. When you add a Snap to your Story it lives for 24 hours before it disappears, making room for the new. Your Story always plays forward, because it makes sense to share moments in the order you experience them.” As storytellers, this description pretty much sounds like a form of content marketing heaven, doesn’t it?
Taco Bell was one of the first brands to recognize this, as it began using Stories for its Snapchat marketing initiatives shortly after the launch in October. By having and promoting its Snapchat account (tacobell), users that “added” the brand could see the Stories it was creating. One of its first story creations detailed friends hanging out, going on an adventure, and finally arriving “home” at Taco Bell. Taco Bell now has an in-house team dedicated to Snapchat marketing and content amplification through the Story feature.
The Snapchat story evolved even more in 2014 with the launch of “Our Story.” Our Story is now one of the most popular features of Snapchat, gaining more views than some popular TV shows. Our Story exists as an aggregation of user photos selected on a location/event basis. Examples of this include college game days, Oktoberfest, and even the Quidditch World Cup (yes, that exists).
Discovering the Discover PageWhen Snapchat launched the Discover page, brands were signaled in a big way; the feature serves as a 24-hour channel guide for partners with media buy-ins. The first of these partners were: National Geographic, Vice, Yahoo News, People, Daily Mail, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, CNN, Food Network, and ESPN.
However, users provided disappointing feedback for brands who were waiting for this type of a buy-in for their content amplification strategies. Since launching the feature, Snapchat has attempted to alter the interface accordingly, making the page less intrusive and more user-friendly. While the Discover page is certainly one of Snapchat’s basics for marketers, it should be approached knowing it might not be a first choice for visibility and engagement.
Geolocation, Geolocation, GeolocationOne of the more recent and exciting Snapchat milestones for marketers, however, was the usage of image tags and geofilters. Introduced in the Summer of 2014, the first business to create its own was McDonald’s in June 2015. For content marketers, this form of advertising may initially seem less story-based. How are brands telling stories by creating a geofilter for social media? Well, the answer here is a truly meaningful one in the world of brands and storytelling: With customers at the heart of brands, geofilters make customers’ stories their story. I repeat: Snapchat is genius.
Snaps For YouThese Snapchat features are something every content marketer should know as brands venture into this quickly developing, unique social space. Stay tuned for more Snapchat marketing insights as this series develops and helps you gear up to create disappearing stories that leave lasting impressions.
Want to learn more about Snapchat? Check out our recent article on how Snapchat Story Explorer can give your marketing strategy a fresh angle.

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