Influencer Orchestration Network

What Brands Need To Know About Snapchat’s Big Update


Chat 2.0 is the headline for Snapchat's update, but brands should take note of a few additional changes that will affect them.

Snapchat has a reputation for being a fast innovator. That reputation just got stronger with the introduction of Chat 2.0. Yet a couple of other changes might be more immediately meaningful to brands looking to connect with the platform’s over 100 million daily users. Just a week after hiring new executives that suggested a focus on how the platform can interact with brands, Snapchat rolled out big changes to its core chat functionality that can easily overshadow adjustments made to focus on advertising within the platform.

Chat 2.0 is a colossal move ahead for the relatively young social network. The new features let users make video and audio calls while also sending multiple photos and switching to text messages as it suits their needs. Snapchat calls it the next best thing to talking in person. Users can also record brief video notes that can be sent as a Vine-style loop and send similarly short audio notes as part of a communication package that will have Snapchatters wondering if they need traditional phone services.

That’s the big story for users and while there may be opportunities for influencers to use the new features to deepen engagement, brands will want to take notice of policy changes and additions on the social side of the platform. Notably, Snapchat made a small change to their privacy policy that points to their efforts to help brands target Snapchatters more effectively. By disclosing to users that they will now be using customer data to help customize ads, Snapchat has signaled that these services are available to brands looking to reach millennials and Gen Z consumers that flock to the channel.

Advertisers who experimented with the platform in 2015 had been pushing the company to offer the ability to target against demographic and behavior data. Even publishers featured in the Discover page of Snapchat sought more information to help them target content. These tools already exist on other networks so this is just Snapchat catching up. CEO Evan Spiegel’s dislike of overly personalized advertising is well-known. He’s talked about how to advertise without seeming ‘creepy’ and the approach is focused on the idea that higher-level demographic data should be enough. That may hearken back to ad-targeting some consider outdated, especially with the endless stream of data that companies like Facebook process to deliver customized newsfeeds, ads and all. Yet, for a platform like Snapchat that essentially deletes content more than a day old, this model sounds more palatable. Snapchat is signaling to brands that their interest in micro-targeting is just too much for their users.

Snapchat explains it pretty plainly on their site, “We don’t want to serve ads that are so custom-tailored that they feel invasive or uncomfortable. It’s a difficult balance and we may not always get it right, so we are counting on Snapchatters chat2codefor feedback.” Considering the engagement rate on Snapchat, which boasts similar video views to what Facebook gets with a fraction of the user count, Spiegel clearly knows what his audience is seeking.

A few other features in the big update are also meaningful for brands. Videos now auto-advance to the next Snapchat Story, not unlike the way Netflix serves up the new episode of House of Cards so you keep binge-watching. That will increase views further and branded content could become the glue that ties them them together. Snapchat’s recent $100 million purchase of Bitmoji also makes more sense now with the new ability to bring stickers into Chat 2.0. Branded stickers could easily be plastered all over pics and videos being snapped, so that’s an opportunity to monetize in the communication space, too. Facebook has already built out their Messenger app to create revenue opportunities so it isn’t surprising that Snapchat would also see a chance to bring brands into the place where Snapchatters spend most of their time: communicating with their friends.

Need more details on the upgrade? Snapchat has created this Snapcode (right) to show off the features on a special Discover channel within the app.