Industry: Snapchat's first B2B marketing push is a timely, smart move

Social media platform's first global B2B marketing campaign comes amidst an identity crisis for its platform rivals and a world seeking better community connections, say agency leaders

Snapchat’s first global B2B marketing campaign is being positioned as an overdue and clever step in solidifying the social media brand’s position as its platform rivals face claims of racial insensitivity and advertising boycotts through to data privacy challenges.

Snapchat’s inaugural B2B marketing campaign debuted this week, with creative positioned around ‘The Snapchat Generation’. The global B2B campaign targets Australian businesses and focuses on highlighting Snapchat’s community of users as its most unique benefit and embraces Snapchat’s vertical format. The platform claims to reach 85 per cent of all 13-24-year olds and 90 per cent of all 18-24-year olds locally.  

Opr Agency senior digital strategist, John Harding-Easson, described ‘The Snapchat Generation’ as a solid creative platform for Snap to establish itself as a thought leader on Generation Z.

“Snapchat is reminding marketers that its strength is that the app is built on connections, which couldn’t be more relevant right now. It’s a pertinent message at a time when many young people are feeling disconnected and isolated from their friends,” Harding-Easson told CMO.

He highlighted opr’s research, which labelled Gen Z as ‘Generation Do’, driven by community, a commitment to change and tolerance. What’s more, Snap member surveys show close friends are four times more influential than celebrities or influencers on member purchasing decisions.

Ogilvy lead social creative, Peter Galmes, echoed this sentiment. “Snapchat honestly can claim the ‘SnapChat Generation’ as it was the first to do what it does,” he said.

“Snapchat is the platform other social platforms ‘copy’ their ideas from,” he said, pointing at Zuc as an example. “It’s a reminder to businesses this is the platform Gen Z are using heavily to talk to their mates.” 

Starcom head of digital strategy, Mark Duffy, saw the B2B marketing campaign as an effective educational tool. Key creative elements include Snap business testimonials, the Snap community, the ‘hyper engaged’ audience, immersion formats and the opportunity for businesses in A/NZ to reach and connect with Snapchat’s 7 million monthly, addressable users and 3.4 million Discover viewers.

With ‘connection’ more important than ever before as people work from home and/or are in lockdown, channels that bring people together and bridge the gap the lack of human contact has created have been elevated, Wunderman Thompson creative director of content, Brie Stewart, said. 

“This creates an opportunity for Snapchat to talk to businesses about its channel and users, on how they can diversify their media spend to reach more people in a more cost-efficient manner,” she said.

“I also feel - with this being more relevant here in Australia - that Snapchat is aiming to maintain, or maybe even remind, its role and importance in the market, especially as new players like TikTok gain further engagement and dominance.”

A credible alternative

It was clear all agency leaders saw it to be a good time for Snapchat to stand out among the social media pack. As well as holding Gen Z credibility, and consistently ranking as one of Australia’s most used social platforms, many said Snapchat’s campaign is timely given many of its rivals are facing an identity crisis.  

“Instagram is struggling with what it’s become, Facebook is fighting against what it is and TikTok is discovering what it might be,” Harding-Easson said. “Amid this tension, Snapchat seems to be rediscovering what makes it great.

“Marketers are wary of the impact that echo chambers and curated aesthetic feeds have on audiences, particularly young people. There is a massive emphasis on positivity in Snapchat’s campaign, which you can’t help but think is a jab at the rivals who have created those environments.”

With negative press around Tiktok’s data privacy practices making its way to the US President, and Facebook continuing to face advertising boycotts as a result of the #blacklivesmatter movement, there’s also recognition brands are opening to engaging in alternative social channels.

“With all the political buzz around TikTok and the AntiTrust Hearing, Snapchat has played it smart here talking directly to businesses and reminding them that there are other social platforms that have reach as well as very engaged user bases,” Galmes said. “Snapchat is one, but there’s also Discord, Twitter and Twitch.”   

Stewart was another who saw current discussions on TikTok’s data privacy working to Snapchat’s advantage. “Snapchat offers a somewhat similar format, but being American owned does place the platform, in the mindsets of some, as being ‘more’ data secure,” she agreed.

The COVID-19 impact

Both L&A Social founder and CEO, Gina Lednyak, and Starcom’s Duffy also believed Snapchat’s first global B2B campaign was strategic in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty it’s generated.  

“We are in a time of a lot of societal upheaval both personally and professionally. We don’t know when life will return to normal and at the same time, there are a load of social injustices happening across the world,” Lednyak said. “I think the way the [Snapchat] ad is shot and framed makes it more relevant to the times.”

According to Duffy, COVID-19’s impact on media habits has opened the door for fresh thinking around social media. “Social media can be an escape and Snap presents us with an escape from the anxiety of COVID to have some fun with friends,” he said. “It’s perfectly timed also as Victoria goes into stage 4 lockdown. It’s a timely reminder for brands to capitalise and be part of the fun.”  

And of course, COVID-19 has seen a range of marketers looking for ways to be more efficient with media spend due to varying business impacts. Many have also seen above-the-line media spend drastically reduced.

“Looking at different mediums, formats and ways to connect with audiences to continue to drive business growth, is exactly what businesses and brands should be doing in the current environment,” Stewart said.

Digivizer CEO, Emma Lo Russo, pointed out many businesses affected by COVID have had to fast-track their digital presence and customer engagement strategies to be completely or significantly online. Snap’s active users, the majority of which are young Australians, created a targeted audience used to 'tapping' through news, ads and links to sites, she said.

In fact, this well-timed campaign was more likely to be a response to people being online during COVID “than an opportunistic response to the #StopHateforProfit movement, or to threats of bans of TikTok in various parts of the world,” Lo Russo argued.

What’s more, Snapchat’s efforts to strengthen brand safety in 2017 by implementing user protection and better regulation of ads were highlighted by several in the industry as another strength.  

“The fact that one of Snapchat’s most used products, Discover, is heavily curated by staff ensures it’s well placed to weather issues of brand safety,” Harding-Easson argued. “And the company has been making steady increases to brand safety this year too. It was seen to act faster than competitors when it removed Trump’s account from the Discover page after it shared a post glorifying violence.”  

Stewart positioned social media as a medium often is under scrutiny, whether it be data privacy, censoring content, its impact on teen issues such as bullying or wider community impact.

“The very make-up of how social media works being platforms driven by people; their place to be ‘them’ – opens the platforms up to be vulnerable,” she said. “Censoring content on social media can be difficult, with all platforms utilising various technology and processes to be able to remove unacceptable content to protect its users; from enlisting artificial intelligence to human content review. There’s a way to go in this area to ensure this type of content doesn’t slip through the cracks.

“However, I don’t think Snapchat can shy away from talking about the power of its own channel, which continues to have strong use, especially in the US.”

The category opportunity

While most agency strategists CMO spoke to recognised Snapchat’s younger demographic in Australia isn’t going to suit everyone, all believed there were benefits to be had for the right brands. Duffy, for example, suggested engaging with Snap’s audience in their early lifecycle marketing stage presents a good opportunity for advertisers which may not have been considered before.

“In terms of creative, Snap is the original AR [augmented reality] social platform and has an array of engaging format options for brands to leverage and get creative with, from skippable / non skippable video formats, to augmented reality lens options for brands,” he said. “In terms of campaign objectives, you can optimise campaigns for both branding and performance.”

Verticals such as ecommerce would suit Snapchat, Harding-Easson said, thanks to its Dynamic Product Ads offering, while Digivizer chief, Emma Lo Russo, saw brands excelling on Snap as those that create content designed for a quick 'snap' or 'series of snaps'. This is especially pertinent to the beauty, fashion and lifestyle interests of that younger demographic.

“This is different to TikTok, for example, where the best brand engagements have been done through influencers and must sit in the 'entertaining' short video category,” Lo Russo noted. “TikTok is definitely winning in some key age and lifestyle brand categories.”  

Brand considerations for Lednyak include Snapchat’s audience significantly skewing younger, and its smaller market presence in Australia compared Facebook and Instagram.  

“At the same time, consumers also do not spend as much time active on Snapchat each day as they do on the other channels. This doesn’t mean it is not a viable channel, but it does mean a brand has to look carefully at who they are targeting and ensure that demographic is active on Snapchat,” she said.    

UP next: Key dos and don'ts for harnessing Snapchat as a media and engagement channel

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