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In the Era of “Finstagram”, Snapchat Remains a Haven for Authentic Social Sharing As marketers and brand strategists, we get a lot of questions about specific channels and how best to use them. Recently, we’ve been hearing the same set of questions quite frequently: “What’s the deal with Snapchat?” “Is Snapchat dead?” “Why are they still around – who is even using them?!” Surprisingly, Snapchat is not dead. Yes, you heard that right – the app is still alive and thriving. 53% of all internet users aged between 15 and 25 years still actively use Snapchat. More fascinatingly, among this population, Snapchat is their most popular app, closely followed by Instagram. The average daily active user opens the app’s camera more than 30 times a day, spending at least 30 minutes on the app. Users turn to the app for playful and silly content with their friends. 95% of Snapchatters say the app makes them feel happy, more than any other app tested. This begs the question: How are so many people (in a coveted target demographic) using this platform and yet, so many people keep asking if it’s dead? The Answer: The reason people think it’s dead is actually the reason people like using it. It’s relatively free from advertisements and brands, it’s harder to track people and it offers a more authentic place to be yourself with your friends. So, Why Snap? Think about the last time you were scrolling through Instagram. You see a post from your cousin, then one from your college friend, and then an ad about the shirt you were browsing 30 minutes ago. Nowadays, it seems like scrolling through social media has become a new form of never-ending advertising. Now, enter Snapchat. Unlike other social platforms, Snapchat allows users an escape or ability to hide from targeted media, which is attractive to a subsection of consumers and, in our opinion, is the reason Snapchat is still very relevant for Gen Z and younger Millennials. With Snapchat, users are able to directly share videos and images with their closest friends and choose how and when to share moments to a wider friends list. (Yes, we know Instragram added the close friends function in stories but it’s somehow not the same). Unlike Instagram or Tiktok, Snapchat users don’t appear to feel the pressure to look a certain way or feel a certain way about the amount of content they receive or share. Users are more likely to express their authentic self, not constantly comparing themselves to others based on post engagements or feed aesthetics. Snapchat also eliminates the surrounding influencer persona which surfaces on other platforms and removes the constant barrage of paid media. In other words, on Snapchat you don’t feel like you’re constantly being sold something. A Refinery 29 article points out “A big part of Snapchat’s appeal is the lack of commitment it takes to enjoy it: Stories fade after 24 hours, messages disappear, and, even if you leave Snapchat, you can always connect with people via at least three other platforms”- users do not have to feel pressured by the living content aspect of other platforms. Essentially, Snap is a “cleaner” more authentic experience free from influencers and brands and that’s exactly why people like it. Does this mean brands should avoid Snap all together!? By no means is Snapchat an untouched platform by brands. Brands do have targeted ads on Snapchat however, these don’t interrupt the way users engage with the app. Users only see sponsored content when looking through the wider audience stories and they know that’s the only place they’ll see ads. Brands that use Snapchat well have become skilled at hiding their ads amongst other organic stories so much so that users sometimes don’t know they’ve clicked through a paid placement. TEVA, Sam Edelman and The New York Times are all currently running promotional campaigns on Snapchat in which users would briefly tap through the ad as if the brand had its own Snap story. Additionally, through its filter feature, brands have been able to promote new products or promotions, however these filters can be seen as “tired” for Snap's core consumers. What Should a Brand Do? How Should They Think About Snapchat? Be Purposeful & Authentic - Snap requires a lot of attention, strategy and dedication to do it well. Think About One to One - Snap is all about direct interaction. Think about adjusting your brand voice to be personified - help people feel like they’re talking to the people behind the brand, not a nameless faceless logo. Don’t Copy & Paste Other Social Strategies - If you’re thinking about getting involved with a Snapchat presence - be prepared for a slow, long road. You can’t reuse your Instagram or TikTok strategy on this platform. Get to know how it works and then act accordingly. Community before Mass Reach: “Going Viral” isn’t so much of a thing on Snapchat so it’s less about mass appeal and more about relationship building with a passionate group of friends and fans. When in Doubt, Don’t - If you’re on the fence about jumping into Snapchat or reigniting your Snap presence, it’s better to be smart than be fast. No one is going to fault you for not having a Snap presence but there could be negative consequences if you do Snap poorly. A Parting Thought From an advertising standpoint, brands can capitalize on the fast FOMO opportunities that Snap creates to promote new products or campaigns. At the same time, brands should strategically think about how to speak to consumers on the platform, especially when knowing most users turn to the app for playful and silly conversations with their closest friends. As both a user and a strategist, Snap allows me to feel free of the social pressure felt across other platforms. However, if I were to advise a client interested in Snap, I would advise to proceed with caution as authentic social sharing seems to be harder and harder to replicate as for brands these days. Brands are always welcomed to create a presence on Snapchat, although enticing to try to reach target audiences, the level of attention, dedicated resources, content curation and focus required to authentically join that space remains high. Brands looking to engage may need to weigh the risks vs the possible rewards before launching campaigns on the platform or face potential blowback as consumers feel their “brand neutral space” becomes invaded.
Snapchat today revealed four new features for its app, as it pushes forward to become as popular as possible in the face of increasing competition for the attention of consumers and marketers. It's the company's latest product-related move in what's becoming an arms race in terms of which app has the best features, including other prominent players such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope and others. Ready, snap, chat.
Snapchat might be a hard nut to crack for many brand marketers because of its lack of metrics. But Birchbox knows how to turn its Snapchat followers into buying consumers through a simple trick: Vanity URLs. Over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, Birchbox created a simple URL — birch.ly/Steals — exclusively for Snapchat to showcase its special holiday deals like Kiehl’s skincare set. The company saw more traffic to its site from this hack than organic Facebook posts. Short, simple, snap.
For Snapchat Discover media publishers, the platform giveth and the platform taketh away. Shortly after Snapchat tweaked its Stories page to move Snapchat Discover content closer to the bottom of the page — below stories posted by your friends — multiple Discover publishers saw daily viewership drop. Two Discover publishers said they noticed about a 33 percent drop in daily viewers after the change. Starting from the bottom.
2015 has been a big year for social media ' Facebook announced new video experiences, Instagram opened up its long-exclusive ad platform and Snapchat launched its 'Discover'? feature to name a few. So, what can we expect to see next? Here's a few trends we're expecting to see impact the social space in 2016. 1. Everything, LIVE! Live-streaming and live social are becoming an obsession and it only appears to be gaining momentum as we head into the next year. From Periscope to Meerkat, Facebook Live to Kanvas, brands will be challenged to find innovative and engaging ways to use these apps to deliver 'in-the-moment' content. Not ready for live-streaming yet? Invest in video in general. While not a new trend or recommendation, if you're not producing short-form, easily digestible video content for social yet you're missing out on a whole world of social engagement. Especially when you consider that: Videos average 62% more engagement than photos Video shares have increased 43% since the beginning of 2015 Facebook recently announced it sees an average of eight BILLION video views a day from 500 million people 2. Influencer Impact People have been talking for a while about the impact online reviews and comments (even from strangers) have on consumer purchase intent. But now, instead of automatically heading to Google to type in your latest query, you can go to YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook and more for advice and opinions. In fact, a Pinterest study done earlier this year reported that 87% of respondents claimed Pinterest helped them decide what to purchase. Make the most of this by sharing special offers, social-exclusive discounts, and reviews and testimonials from customers (or social media influencers) that provide real feedback and authentic content, over glossy ads. 3. Social Commerce With a number of platforms rolling out 'Buy'? buttons, attention is being put towards making the mobile and social commerce process seamless. However, transitioning users scrolling through engagement announcements and memes to purchasers will likely prove more difficult. In fact, according to Custora, whose software is used by many big-name retailers, sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram drove a meager 1.7% of total online sales this Black Friday (compared to 25% of online orders from e-mail promotions). That said, there are definitely social commerce opportunities to be had and it's likely we'll see the major platforms experimenting with various executions over the course of 2016. 4. Key Players Here to Stay Remember the app Yo? It let you send a message to friends that literally just read 'Yo.'? Nothing else. Sounds ridiculous, right? But it blew up, gaining momentum and national attention on a huge scale before a just as quick crash and burn. In the last few years there have been a number of new platforms like Yo that emerge and either die off quickly or skyrocket to popularity before being bought up by one of the bigger players (think WhatsApp which was purchased by Facebook in late 2014). In 2016 though, as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google focus on innovations, new offerings and expanded capabilities, it's likely the focus will be on the established big players figuring out how to gain new users versus emerging opportunities.
At AMP, everyone has an insatiable intellectual curiosity that drives us to create innovative solutions for our clients, our agency and the advertising industry as a whole. That's why we're constantly reading and staying up to date on industry trends, news, etc. Read below for recent updates within the search and social marketing realm and our thoughts on these changes. SNAPCHAT ADDS GEO-LOCATION FILTERS In early July, Snapchat added geo-filters by location to its platform. For example, if you're taking a photo at Disneyland, you'll be able to swipe right to see art related to the amusement park. Read More on Mashable Why it's important: Snapchat has rolled out new features constantly in the last few months to encourage more sharing. Updates like this one give Snapchat users another reason to open the app to see what geofilters are around them, share with friends and show off their savvy selfies. Implications for marketers: This definitely opens a door for more branding on the platform. For example, Soul Cycle has a specific filter for when users are in the studios. Not to mention that Snapchat is adding an outlet for revenue and paid media space with these filters. SOCIAL E-COMMERCE AHEAD Twitter and Facebook revealed that they are listening and are looking for a way to seamlessly integrate purchases into social with Twitter acquiring a new company and Facebook testing a 'buy' button for instant purchases. Read More on AdAge. Why it's important: Currently, social media isn't an e-commerce platform and advertisers are using direct response ads on Facebook to reach a targeted audience. The fact that Facebook and Twitter are testing native e-commerce technologies would mean a new way to use the platforms. Implications for marketers: Every day, we get questions from clients and prospective clients asking how we are tying social efforts to ROI. Rolling out various e-commerce functionality within social media would make these actions much easier to track and further prove value for social media investment. APPLEBEE'S HANDS INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT OVER TO FANS FOR A YEAR The brand is handing it's account over to the neighborhood with a campaign called #Fantopgrapher. Fans will have to opt in to less Applebee's access their account, but anything tagged #Applebees will be up for grabs and posted to the account with a branded frame crediting the user. Read More from AdWeek. Why it's important: Because the brandsaw an opportunity based on a current social action and made something real out of it. The chain claimed that there are 779,000 photos tagged with #Applebees being shared organically already and they are harnessing that power with a campaign. Implications for marketers: This takes UGC to a new level and gives consumers 100% share of voice in the brand's conversations. It will be interesting to see if a campaign like this encourages more UGC and uses of the hashtag over time. GOOGLE WEBMASTER ROLLS OUT ROBOTS.TEXT TESTING TOOL This new Google Webmaster Tools feature allows you to see if your robots.txt file has any errors. You can test to see if new or existing URLs are allowed to be crawled based on how your robots.txt file is set up. The tool has the ability to show you what directive in the file is causing the URL to be blocked from a crawl. Learn more about this tool on Google Webmaster Central. Why it's important: Web marketers know that one of the first steps to driving organic search traffic to a website is to ensure indexation of the important pages in search engine databases. The great thing about this tool is it simplifies the process of making sure your robots.txt file is not blocking content from being crawled by search engine spiders. Implications for marketers: This tool can now be a part of a monthly maintenance check to make sure the site is open for a crawl. GOOGLE UPDATES LOCAL SEARCH ALGORITHM Codenamed 'Pigeon'? by Search Engine Land, Google released an algorithm update to provide more useful and accurate local search results.Read more about the algorithm update: Why it's important: Local results are now ranked using 100s of 'traditional'? signals that are used to rank typical web results. The update will allow users to gain more relevant results as the signals leverage more precise proximity information. Implications for marketers: With any Google algorithm change, the understanding of how results are altered and what new tactics should be employed to gain increased visibility are pending. Stay tuned for our formal search POV. GOOGLE ADWORDS INTRODUCES DYNAMIC SITELINKS Dynamic Sitelinks are the latest ad snippet from Google AdWords. They are automatically generated based on the searcher's activity and point to relevant content on the advertiser's site. Read the official announcement here. Why it's important: Clicks on these sitelinks are free but advertisers have no control over the text of the links; however, advertisers do have the ability to disable dynamic sitelinks from appearing under their ads. Implications for marketers: This rollout is an interesting blend of organic and paid search results. Since the links will be based on search activity and free to the advertiser, it should be seen as just another relevant path for users to follow to land on your site. AMP will be monitoring the performance of Dynamic Sitelinks over the next several months. What's your perspective on these updates? Share a comment below.