Snapchat is on everyone’s lips. Since its founding in 2011, the reputation of the instant messaging service has changed dramatically. Initially ridiculed as a “platform on which teenagers are sharing embarrassing photos”, the little white ghost is now regarded by some as “the holy grail of brand communication with adolescents”. Many marketers are following this gold rush, as with the launch of Facebook pages some years ago. Are they right?
Very clever, Snapchat!
Snapchat makes it possible to send short messages (“snaps”) in the form of text, photos and videos to friends. The content then deletes after viewing for a set time between 1 second and 10 seconds. Several snaps can be combined into stories, which are available to friends for up to 24 hours. For ordinary people this sounds like a manageable time period, but for social media marketers and their branded message it’s an eternity. The average half-life of a post on the major social media channels is considerably less than 24 hours. A tweet achieved half of its total impressions even within the first 30 minutes after the release.
This decaying warranty and the brevity of the message make Snapchat friends feel in the middle of the action. To users it’s fresh and spontaneous. To critics it’s wobbly and irrelevant.
Snapchat in numbers
It’s not only the storytelling options that make Snapchat interesting for marketers: 200 million active users and about 8 billion video views per day show the enormous range of the network. However, to find official figures for usage in Germany is currently futile as the company doesn’t want to release them. Representative studies suggest however, that there are 3.25 million active users in Germany at the moment, many of them teenagers. In the US, 60% of all users are between 13-24 years old and only 14% are older than 34 years.
Five ways for Snapchat in the movie marketing
This all sounds exciting and the Snapchat audience are prime targets for movie advertising. The question is: How to make most of the platform? Snapchat provides marketers with numerous options: Owned, Paid and Earned Media – but also a mixture of these types (Converged Media) is possible.
- Create your own profile (owned media): This method requires a lot of work and is recommended for large film franchise projects and major distributors / TV stations. The short life of snaps makes it necessary to publish content regularly so you aren’t forgotten. Events or behind the scenes are two examples of great content. Movie premieres, awards, film shoots, conferences and studio visits make fans feel “in the middle of the action”. Within Snapchat there is no way to promote profiles, or to share snaps with friends. Awareness can only be built on existing external channels, so you need a bit of creativity to make your target audience switch media channels. Reach grows relatively slowly, which is the reason why creating your own profile for a temporary campaign (release of a movie) should be weighed accurately.
- Paid Ads (paid media): In addition to the direct communication between friends, the company started Snapchat Discover and Live Story as additional content-based areas. The latter takes large events and presents them in Snapchat format, the former is for selected media brands who are offered their own channels with daily news. Here, marketers can buy full-screen ads in some countries. This is currently limited in most European markets.
- Sponsored Discover Channel (paid media): The sponsored James Bond Discover Channel on Snapchat was the world’s first of its kind. It was available 24 hours and has published numerous photos, behind-the-scenes videos and some interactive elements. The channel was similar to the Facebook Canvas Ads advertising format and led because of it’s exclusivity to high awareness, engagement and press coverage. Snapchat obviously still experiments with the advertising format. To date, there are only few examples.
- Snapchat Geofilter and Sponsored Lenses (paid media): Geofilters are location based images, which can be integrated into snaps. It’s ideal to generate some extra attention for events such as film premieres and award shows. The effectiveness of a Geofilter is not yet clear. Although they are free for customers to use, they need to be paid for by brands to be included. Snapchat reviews and approves each filter so it can’t be too focused on sales. Sponsored lenses adds an animation on top of a selfie. Important: As geofilters of users are added to their snap on a voluntarily basis, marketers should use creativity to engage audiences. Also, these formats are only available in a few countries worldwide.
Image: Sponsored Lenses for “The Peanuts Movie”, Snapchat
- Influencer Marketing (earned media): Certainly one of the best ways to use Snapchat, is to work with established influencers. Many online personalities, especially YouTubers, have already built up a significant reach on Snapchat. Dagi Bee, a popular German YouTuber, announced that she has 500,000 views on Snapchat. For marketers Snapchat influencer campaigns work similarly as on other channels. Marketers reach out and manage directly with the influencers and their management. The more creative and fitting the campaign, the better the results. As mentioned above, there are no share functions. Viral effects similar to the ones in other social media channels, are very limited on Snapchat. Also, there is no possibility to integrate links (e.g. to the movie website).
Snapchat, the (marketing) land of milk and honey… is it?
Despite impressive reach and exciting opportunities Snapchat shouldn’t be overestimated. It is still working on ways how to monetize and have marketers to gain access to their audience. So marketers should primarily see it as a playground. Promotional products are neither fully developed nor available worldwide. In addition, analytics & reports have been integrated only rudimentary. However, this should not deter film & TV marketers to gain first experience with this service. If the target group matches, an authentic ton of voice is used and the service is consistently integrated in all communication, then brands can achieve big successes on Snapchat as early adopters. The channel isn’t fading away, so it’s a good idea to practice using it now while it’s still in relative infancy.
There is a fantastic example in Germany for the success of integrating Snapchat: ProSieben. The TV station recently started a Snapchat week, during which six employees presented a behind-the-scenes of the station and some of its popular shows. ProSieben used existing social media channels, Snapchats Accounts and traditional press releases to advertise for the campaign. It was also frequently mentioned within the shows that viewers should visit the Snapchat profile. Within a week ProSieben generated more than 53,000 SnapViews in average for their Stories and facilitated an open dialogue with their young audience.
Photo Credits: Alexandre Chassignon / Creative commons attribution – partage dans les mêmes conditions