Marketers Take Note: How Brands Are Leveraging Snapchat

In November 2015, the Financial Times reported that Snapchat hit six billion daily video views, rapidly catching up to Facebook’s eight-billion-a-day viewership. You’ve probably heard of Snapchat by now, and if you haven’t take note: thoughtful and creative marketers are speedily coming up with ways to leverage their brands using this particular social space.

Snapchat has blown up within the Post-Millennial demographic due to its catchy usability. As a social medium, it allows you to interact with friends and other Snapchat users by creating ‘snaps’ or ‘stories,’ a series of strung-together videos and images of yourself and the world around you. You can publish these ‘stories’ so that anyone who has added you as a friend can view them, or you can send them directly to certain people.

Snapchat is like a selfie on steroids, ideal for younger adults, a group that instinctively wants to share their lives on social media. It’s an ongoing glimpse into their world, and playful tools – which allow users to layer on selfie filters, text, emojis and finger-to-screen scribbles – make Snapchat one of the most interactive social apps to date. The fact that ‘snaps’ can only be viewed for up to 24 hours before they dissipate somewhere into the digiverse also gives users an alarming case of FOMO (fear of missing out), which simply adds to the fun.

Shaun McBride, known as “Shonduras” on Snapchat, is one of the medium’s first superstars. The 28-year-old artist and ex-snowboard sales rep from Utah rose in fame after he began layering silly, intricate and laborious doodles over his snaps. He’s since been hired by brands like Disney, Taco Bell and Major League Soccer to engage users, purportedly being paid up to $30,000 per campaign.

On the Social Media Examiner’s podcast, Snapchat Marketing: What Businesses Need to Know, McBride explains why marketers have 100% of users attention on Snapchat: “On many social media platforms, viewers scroll through content quickly. And even though those posts will be there forever, viewers will never see it again. Marketers are only grasping for 50% of users’ attention at a time, and those users never look back.” But because users know that ‘snaps’ and ‘stories’ will disappear, they’re hyper engaged.

So how do marketers take this hasty time span and use it to their advantage when procuring eyeballs has become increasingly difficult amid all of the online advertising noise? Here are three tried-and-tested ways your brand can engage its following on Snapchat:

1. Give your followers the VIP treatment

British fashion house Burberry, gave their fans the VIP treatment on Snapchat with a pair of campaigns that made their following feel special. A day before their Spring/Summer 2016 collection hit the catwalk at London Fashion Week this past September, they defied runway protocol by giving their Snapchat followers an insider’s glimpse into the collection with VIP content showcasing outfits, makeup and accessories.

As a follow-up in October, fashion enthusiasts also got a behind-the-scenes look at the S/S 2016 print photo shoot led by renowned fashion photographer Mario Testino – all of this leading up to the campaign launch in January 2016.

2. Find A Unique Voice

In 2014, Audi wanted to drive brand awareness to the Snapchat demographic during the Super Bowl, the most sought-after advertising event of the year. By understanding that Super Bowl viewers generally engage in social media using their phones while watching the game, they were able to create a Snapchat campaign, which brilliantly cut through the clutter of advertisers.

The campaign featured pictures and commentary that was humorous, contextual and privately delivered to each of their followers, and the content was so witty (think: a dog looking sleepy on the floor coupled with the tagline, “dog doesn’t care who wins” because Super Bowl 2014 was so boring), that their snaps garnered 100,000 views, 2,400 mentions on Twitter and increased their Facebook following by 9,000.

3. Partner With Influencers

For brands with big marketing budgets like McDonald’s, influencer marketing reigns supreme. McDonald’s first Snapchat influencer campaign proved largely successful when they brought on basketball star extraordinaire LeBron James to promote their new bacon clubhouse burger in a 36-second story. Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman and college football star Johnny Manziel also had cameos in the videos.

By partnering with celebs or Snapchat stars like McBride, who already have an existing following, brands are able to align themselves with engaging personalities that users want to see more of. “I tell stories and make snapchats because it’s fun,” writes McBride on his website. “Snapchat is an amazing platform where the interaction between creator and consumer is very personable; this gives an opportunity to engage with your audience in a very creative and sincere way.”

Published Wednesday, January 20th 2016

Header image credit: During Super Bowl XLVIII, Audi, Huge, and The Onion executed a Snapchat campaign that connected the luxury carmaker with new audiences during the big game.



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