Why brands are increasingly attracted to Snapchat

Mobile native social media platform offers a ‘feeling of intimacy’ that can’t be replicated elsewhere, according to brand owners and agencies

Being ‘in the moment’

Globally, many brands are using Snapchat during events to give followers a perspective of being “in the moment”, according to Oracle APAC, marketing and transformation and strategic director, Wendy Hogan. The most prolific in Australia have experimented with organic and paid integrations, mainly testing branded filters, promoting campaigns and showcasing their latest offers.

“These range from new store openings and product launches to publications that use the Snapchat channel to keep up with what’s happening in the Australian media scene,” she says.

“Some brand campaigns use it very effectively to reach end consumers through a boarding pass themed filter, and some publishers have cited numbers in terms of reach and engagement to their stories. Most brands have experimented with Snapchat as a way to reach the elusive younger generation.”

In a world where digital media has often been quoted as not being creative or struggling to produce emotive advertising, Hogan says Snapchat has changed the game in terms of enabling creative, interactive and memorable brand advertising in a digital environment.

“The results can also be incorporated into a more holistic marketing strategy building a one-on-one connection with customers,” she says. “Another great use case is when there are breaking news moments or globally relevant events such as the Women’s March or the Elections. Brands can insert their messaging into the aggregated stories showing the highlights from those events – giving them the opportunity to be there in the moment.”

Authentic dialogue

Creating authenticity is a major reason why brands are embracing Snapchat, according to Ogilvy Sydney lead social strategist, Jennifer Ngai.

“The brands we work with have really embraced Snapchat for two main reasons – the opportunity to have an open, authentic dialogue with the consumers, and to try out newer, tech-driven ways to engage audiences,” Ngai says. “The webview and article formats are particularly interesting for our clients, as they allow us to experiment with content formats which are not necessarily possible through the more established social channels.

“The lenses and filters are a totally unique way to have your brand seen by an audience. The very nature of the way a person interacts with a lens could change the way a consumer views a brand – especially for brands which aren’t necessarily physical or tactile.”

For Ngai, Snapchat is a great example of how both short-form content, such as organic stories, can co-exist with long-form engagements, in the Discover section, in a valuable way for the consumer.

“From a paid perspective, the platform’s advertising options can provide a highly visual, rich engagement opportunity that is both quantifiable in exposure, as well as time spent with a brand which we think only enhances organic work [and vice versa],” she says.

While more brands are becoming comfortable with Snapchat as a new platform for consideration, Ngai admits Snapchat can still be seen as a riskier option for clients because of how expensive the advertising options are.

“From an agency perspective, what this does is force us to be extra diligent with the creative we propose, as we have to be sure that the ROI makes it worthwhile,” she says. “So far, we’ve seen results for our clients which have outperformed even Snapchat’s own benchmarks, and provide a completely different dimension to our overall social media strategies.”

Unfiltered approach

Switched on Media head of social, Tansa Mehroke, also believes Snapchat is quickly becoming a platform of choice for one-to-one engagement.

“Snapchat has historically been used to speak to the millennial audience on a human level. Positioned as a ‘1-to-1’ platform, it feeds the hunger this audience has for raw, unedited and unfiltered video content,” he says.

Mehroke says sponsored geo-filters and lenses have been the pick of the bunch in the last six months for clients, with McDonald’s and Optus among those to get on board. More widely, the industry is moving towards live streaming on social.

“The explosion of Facebook Live and other rivals to Snapchat, such as Instagram stories, Facebook Stories and now, Whatsapp Status, are an indication that unfiltered, live content will continue to grow in 2017,” he says.

What Mehroke is less sure about is how Snapchat will sustain a leadership position among the pack. “Recent data suggests Stories has been slowly eating into Snapchat's market share since its introduction in August last year. The race for all major platforms to own the live social streaming space in Australia will be one to keep an eye on for sure.”

Over at Webling group, most Snapchat triallists to date have been global brands running a mix of unique localised creative or global creative, says creative digital director, Jay Morgan. He sees the main benefit in Snap Ads as that they’re not in-feed ad units with a bounding box around them.

“They are completely native and don’t really feel like ads as much; they use the entire screen real estate,” he claims. “If the brand has opted for a filter or lens ad, then consumers are actively branding their own social feed with your brand, it’s every brand marketer's wet dream. Even if it only last 24 hours a pop.”

But Morgan says Snapchat has a lot of maturing to do. “It’s the youngest social media platform with any real traction and because of the IPO the company is changing how things work on the platform on a daily basis,” he says. “You could say they’re going from their toddler stage to teens in 3-6 months, a process that took Facebook almost 10 years.

“That accelerated product timeline is good for brands because it’s forced Snap to confront some limitations to the platform. Snap fanatics and industry analysts have regularly argued that the quirks and sometimes baffling UI of Snapchat makes is so popular. I’ve never really bought into that and I see these rapid changes as inevitable. The platform is better for it and I think users will appreciate them too.”

Morgan says what makes Snapchat unique is its exploitation of the native device format. “When you really think about it the way most mobile search sites and social platforms like Facebook design, the layout it feels archaic compared with Snap. It still looks like old-school desktop Web design slimmed down to fit a mobile screen,” he says.

Morgan also notes the implications of Snapchat’s recent FCC filing, which stated the company was a camera company.

“That’s very telling about their future intentions as a company,” he says. “In a way, Snap is showing us a glimpse of the future of digital content, even guiding the way. Whether it survives the IPO or not, Snap will have left a legacy on the Internet age forever.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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