Even in an era where social media is an integral part of most marketing campaigns, Snapchat is kind of an odd bird. Part social, part texting and all Generation Y and Z, Snapchat initially confounded many above a certain age with its quirky user interface and vanishing content. Yet the explosive growth of the platform made marketers persevere and, as the pressure also mounts on Snapchat to generate more revenue, they’re working closely with brands to find innovative ways to leverage the 6 billion daily views of its temporary videos.
In recent months, Snapchat has found unique ways to help brands reach their target audiences beyond the influencer marketing strategies that are so effective on social media – specifically with the use of geo-located filters that can target Snappers when they’re near a particular location at a certain time of day. For clothing retailer Hollister, that meant targeting teenagers in close proximity to thousands of high schools throughout the U.S. and Canada. If users were nearby on a Friday afternoon, adding a photo or video to their story would include an option to add the words “Friday Vibes” and a Hollister logo to their creation. W Hotels didn’t include the timing element but it’s offered branded filters for Snapchat users in proximity to their hotels, too, whether they’re guests or not.
CoverGirl has made effective use of the geofilters as well, specifically with their Star Wars-themed beauty line. Since these products are available exclusively at Ulta stores, Snapchat users posting a photo or video close to an Ulta store are given an opportunity to use a branded filter that displayed both CoverGirl’s and Ulta’s messaging alongside a message tying the image to the new Lucasfilm series.
As the holidays kick in, Hallmark is also using Snapchat’s geofilters to offer a branded digital sticker when users are in close proximity to particular Christmas trees in over a dozen American cities. Others like Starbucks, Marriott, Burberry and even political campaigns are starting to take notice of the opportunity to connect their brand with the fleeting moments captured on the platform, in hopes that such a connection won’t be deleted from consumer’s memories when the Snapchat story is.
While the older social networks like Facebook and Twitter are working hard to prove a direct connection between use of their platform for social marketing and actual sales, Snapchat currently only offers details about views of the filter, how many times it was offered, and how many times the branded filter got used. As a result, brands can rely on Snapchat to drive awareness, not really connect it directly with sales – although, CoverGirl is trying.
While all those name brands using the platform for engagement is helping, the pressure to generate more revenue has Snapchat grabbing at all angles. Most social platforms work hard to keep regular use free and positive for a long time before trying to charge for features so as to not disturb user growth. Yet, Snapchat is going directly at its users for revenue even as it remains in a growth phase. First, it offered to retain content for longer than 24 hours for a cost. Now, it’s added a cost to filters like the one that makes it look like a selfie subject is vomiting a rainbow. Snappers were quick to get irked by the fee but time will tell if a sizable percentage of its 100 million daily users will fork out 99 cents to use a filter that cycles out of the few that are available each day.
The one-two punch of more branded filters popping up, and a cost being involved in the kind of features that define the Snapchat experience may very well lead to user fatigue. With the reactions to for-cost filters already negative and a recent terms and conditions update reminding users of the company’s right to use their stories after the 24-hour expiration, Snapchat users can clearly see the platform stretching its model a bit in order to find a path to financial success.
Snapchat can certainly look to Twitter, another social platform that defined itself with content limitations (140 characters) but has had to strategically break its own rules (like creating Moments and expanding DM character limits) to achieve its goals. Snapchat is surely doing that much earlier in its growth cycle but whether that hinders its ability to add and retain users remains to be seen.
Image credit: Maurizio Pesce