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In 2011, Snapchat, created by three students at Stanford University, became a huge digital phenomenon. The O.G. live social media platform. Since its release, it has garnered more than 150 million daily users and was growing faster than most iPhone apps… or so we thought.

In the past few months, Snapchat has been on the decline losing loyalty from both brands and users. We can attribute this as a reaction to a recent update that has changed the overall function and design of the application. Rather than separating branded Snapchat stories from personal, the update has meshed all content into one, unchronological queue.

With the Instagram Stories competitor on the rise, and an aggressive one at that, Snapchat seems to be having a hard time keeping up. Instagram users already have a following here and adding Insta Stories to their strategy only helps strengthen the connection to their audience. The authenticity offered by Instagram Stories is enticing to individuals who want to increase their following and enhance their online persona, therefore making Snapchat seem like an unnecessary channel to maintain.

 

The audience has spoken, and they are saying: WTF

This Snapchat update has received some major criticism from users, and has led many to delete the app from their devices altogether.

A petition on Change.org was created with the goal of convincing Snapchat to go back to how it was prior to the 2018 update. To date, the petition has over 1 million signatures. Nic Rumsey, the Australian man who initiated the petition, says that “there is a general level of annoyance among users and many have decided to use a VPN app, or are using other risky apps or steps, to go back to the old Snapchat.”

 

One man’s trash is another man’s Snapchat success

While the public may be in an uproar over the update, some brands have found success on the app. NASCAR reported that its story viewership has increased by 80% since the change.

 

 

Nike has been using the Snapchat update to its advantage by tapping into it during live events. Nike’s Jordan brand, Darkstore, and Shopify teamed up to pre-release the Air Jordan III “Tinker” on Snapchat with same-day delivery. After the big game, those that attended the Jumpman All-Stars after-party had the chance to scan exclusive snap codes, leading them to Snapchat where they could purchase the sneakers (which sold out in 23 minutes).

 

 

Under Armour also creatively used the tool to increase viewership, by creating 5-second ads. The message loops through twice, giving users the opportunity to see it more than once within the ten second ad limit set by Snapchat.

Under Armour also uses the QR type codes on Snapchat to show special lenses. During the NBA Slam Dunk contest, users scanned codes that allowed them to take pictures with a 3D version of Dallas Mavericks’ Point Guard, Dennis Smith Jr, Smith (wearing Under Armour shoes). According to Under Armour, users spent an average of 79 seconds playing with the lens.

 

 

NASCAR, Nike, and Under Armour are strong examples of how brands are taking advantage of this “downtime” for Snapchat and utilizing it successfully to engage consumers in a creative way.

Is it possible that Snapchat could go back to its golden days? Is there still a future for Snapchat? The verdict on this is out, however one thing is clear: brands are still using it to engage the audience that is still there for brand awareness and now, ROI opportunities.

In September 2016, Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc., in an effort to distinguish the company from its product. Later that year, the company officially filed documents for an initial public offering (IPO) with a predicted value of approximately $25-35 billion.

As the company expands its horizons, so does the app itself. Snapchat is growing up and it is our responsibility as marketers to grow with it. With more than 240 million monthly users, Snapchat is providing more and more opportunities for brands to extend their reach by taking strategic advantage of its features.

Learn from those before you. Below are some ways that brands have successfully utilized the platform.

BMW On the Move

As the primary sponsor in North America for CNN, BMW rolled out a series of short video ads on CNN’s Snapchat Discover section. Later, BMW followed up by creating a microsite that allows consumers to write, draw and design messages on a holiday-themed red BMW X4 SUV with a snow-covered windshield.

By targeting the millennials through their beloved mobile messaging app, BMW is able to reach a younger consumer group for the sales of X4 SUV model. However, it is still a question whether this is a wise placement that led to more purchases.
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Sports Game Time!

Both Under Armor and Gatorade have created special campaigns to put on Snapchat. First, Gatorade designed a low-pixel tennis game that can be played directly on Snapchat. In this interactive way, it was able to generate more significant impressions on the audience.

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Under Armor, on the other hand, not only designed a Snapchat game, but also launched 10-second Snap Ads on the sports channel of Snapchat Discover.

Olympics and America

During the last summer Olympics, seven big brands partnered with Snapchat. Walmart highlighted its patriotism by supporting more American-owned business and a study later proved that 34% of American shoppers said they would be more inclined to opt for Walmart after seeing the Snapchat ads.

To promote The Angry Bird Movie, Sony Pictures created a 360-degree marketing campaign across television, digital, and social. On Snapchat, they created seven short film pieces of which two show clips from the film.

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As Snapchat continues to update, more features will be presented to accommodate marketing and advertising opportunities for brands.

Even though the birth of Facebook Live occurred last April, the brand has successfully preserved the feature’s spot in the limelight.

Over the past several months, the world has watched countless brands, bloggers and celebrities use it to creatively advertise products and reach new audiences. Whether it’s through cooking tutorials, a glimpse behind the scenes or a Q&A with an influencer, Facebook Live has certainly become an industry favorite.

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In September, Cercone Brown organized a Facebook Live tour with blogger Natalie Thomas from Nat’s Next Adventure and Garnet Hill of their Mobile Boutique in New York City. Natalie gave viewers an insider’s peek into the unique boutique.

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Not Just For The Professionals

It seems that even though similar apps such as Snapchat and Instagram Stories have experienced great success, the masses have yet to heavily engage with Facebook Live. The brand is attempting to change this by encouraging people like you – the everyday person – to get involved.

The brand has launched a campaign that is based on showcasing user-generated content and demonstrating how to go live.

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While the tutorial ads feature statements like, “How to go live if you’ve got a hidden talent that you’re ready to make not-so-hidden” or “How to go Live when you have something to say and you just need to say it loud”.

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The set-up for going Live is simple and encourages a spur-of-the-moment call to action. Facebook claims that they want to make the world more open and connected through the Live feature … if only people would begin to engage with it.

Instagram and Snapchat are neck-and-neck in the race to win loyalty of social enthusiasts around the world. Whether you’ve naturally opted for the stream of content bites that come with Snapchat or the picture-perfect wanderlust reality filling your Instagram feed, the time may have come to finally pick your poison.

On August 2nd, Instagram launched Instagram Stories, an exciting feature with strange familiarities to Snapchat. With over 400 million active users, we are psyched that one of the most brand-friendly social networking services is tapping into the ‘real-time’ video trend. Instagram is positioning their Stories feature as the solution to the excess posting that comes with Snapchat and other apps that promote video. Since the Stories live in a separate space on Instagram, it makes it possible to post without over saturating your followers’ feeds.

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So what does all of this mean for your brand? So glad you asked.

One platform, no worries

If you already have a strong presence on Instagram, the Stories feature gives you the opportunity to post more playful content more frequently – without being forced to build a whole new audience.

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Keep your influencers close and your users closer

Instagram is a buzzing hub of established social influencers in every sector. With the Stories feature, you can maintain your partnerships AND create more complex video campaigns for both audiences. The cherry on top? Spontaneous and frequent content feels more authentic, and this authenticity will likely attract more user interaction and brand loyalty.

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Reach your users the unpaid way

When you post a story, your account will show up at the forefront of your users’ feeds with a colorful ring around it. This top-of-feed, top-of-mind strategy opens up the coveted door to place organic content in laps of your users.

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Just be careful not to flood their feeds with low-quality content!

 

Disappearing content

Micro campaigns, flash contests, experimental content – there is no limit to the spirited approach you can take to Instagram Stories. The 24-hour deadline means you can test the waters of different types of posts, and then roll them out on your regular feed if they perform well.

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Courtesy of Loft Instagram

Stories are temporary, but the fans are forever

There are no “likes” or “comments” with Instagram Stories. Your users can only respond by sending a private message to your account, which is amazing for beefing up brand-client relationships and gaining private feedback.

Courtesy of Taco Bell Instagram

Will Instagram Stories last? Or will it suffer the same fate as the channels’ other tried-and-failed features like Bolt? Our secret hope? That Instagram hops on the facial recognition game. Snap-fiends love their flower crown filter.

It is no secret that Live Video has transformed the world of social media with applications like Snapchat and Periscope. Even Facebook, as of recently, has been embracing Live Video capabilities and is growing out the now popular feature. After its release back in December, Facebook has expressed that its “Live Video” was going to be an integral part of the platform’s design. Now with one of the biggest pushes it can offer, Facebook is looking to make Live Video mainstream, and forge ahead as one of the most used social media interfaces on the market.

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This week, Facebook released a huge update that aims to make its Live Video feature a part of its infrastructure, holistically. With the update, Live Video will replace the Messaging tab on the bottom portion of the digital app. The new tab will feature broadcasting from around the world, from your friends, and from pages you follow. In addition, Facebook has now allowed you to interact with a map of broadcasts (this feature is only available on the desktop interface).

Still confused on how the update might change your experience? Check out their demo video below:

So what does Facebook’s new update mean for brands? We’ve made it clear that Live Video is definitely an added technique that brands should use in their outreach initiatives (check out our blog posts on Snapchat: Link 1 & Link 2), but Facebook is now giving brands a bigger platform to reach more active users than any other social media outlet. Live Video gives brands exposure opportunities and allows for real-time interaction from a direct brand-to-consumer perspective. With this kind of interaction potential, brands can continue the trend of breaking barriers, promoting transparency with their target audiences.

Another important capability for brands to use will be the measurement tool associated directly with the Live Video feeds. Publishers and video creators will be able to see total live viewership numbers during a broadcast. This gives brands a numerical indication of how well they are doing with impressions, and allows them to see how many actual target audience members they are hitting… something that other Live Video platforms have yet been able to do. (You go, Facebook!)

While there are no paid advertisement opportunities yet available with Facebook’s Live Video, the endless options to integrate your brand into real-time conversations with consumers can open a flood gate of brand exposure. Whether or not you join the wave, Live Video is here to stay in the social media world.

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By now, we all know how essential social media is to a company’s success. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been utilized in almost every way imaginable. In addition to these big three, numerous other different social media outlets are used for more specific uses and for different target audiences. In the past, Snapchat has had a reputation of being too casual of a platform for social media. But with more than 26 million users, companies are starting to realize that they should tap into the potential of Snapchat by embracing its unique qualities and its marketing potential.

The casual communication through pictures and videos that Snapchat promotes is something that marketers are learning to embrace. In fact, there are many benefits to using Snapchat as a creative way to reach target audiences.

PERSONALITY

Through Snapchat, companies can show their own personality and convey their identity through the photos and videos they share. Take, for example, the Food Network. Their Snapchat consists of short demonstrations of how to make food, articles on food news, recipe inspiration, and frequently features TV personalities who have their own shows on the network, like Katie Lee and Giada De Laurentiis.

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LIVE CONTENT

Snapchat also allows a personal component of the identities of these companies to shine through, offering behind the scenes footage for followers to view. MLS and NBA take part in this, just to name a couple. Sports have not just become a love for the game, but also for the players and associations involved, and through Snapchat, fans can engage more with the players and teams by watching live footage of their moments leading up to the big game.

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GEO-FEATURES

Snapchat offers a geo-feature that brands can take advantage of. The most recent to do this is IHOP, offering branded filters to use on pictures taken at the restaurant. IHOP’s VP of marketing explained their choice to do this, saying, “IHOP receives Snapchats from users every day, a lot of them taken while in our restaurant. Introducing customized filters was a great way to further engage with our guests and at the same time extend our brand message when they share that content with their friends.”

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Just like many of the popular social media outlets out there, Snapchat has become a part of life (millennial life, at least). In order for brands to be recognized, they are starting to realize they need to get creative and integrate themselves into the phenomena any way they can. And as users, we have to admit: (ba da ba da ba) we’re lovin’ it.

 

‘Tis the season for giving and, on Giving Tuesday, Snapchat teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to donate up to $3 million dollars to (RED). Three “World AIDS Day” geofilters were created and for every picture that was taken with one, $3 was donated. On top of that, $1 million would be donated if a specific (RED) YouTube video were shared more than 330,000 times.


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“It feels good to put a cause-supporting filter on a social media post, but wouldn’t it be nice if those little tokens of support actually counted in real money?”-Mashable

 

This question made us think—WOAH. Promotion for charities has completely evolved with the help of social media. What used to be a very personal and voluntary act is now much more easily accessible, with just a simple click of a button.

 

This type of campaign is a two-way street, and that’s why brands love it. While the charity is gaining funds and exposure, the brand is self-promoting and supporting user interaction. In this way, the charity and the brand are both kept in the consumer’s mind.

 

Some of our clients have used this tactic and we think it’s great:

From November 3rd to December 25th, Garnet Hill is donating up to $15,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by giving $5 for every PJ party photo that is uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #StJudePJParty.

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In October, Rockport Shoes donated $5 to Dress For Success for every post using #MyDailyAdventure and tagging @DressforSuccess, and the campaign raised $10,000 for the philanthropic organization, which provides interview suits and career development support to low-income women.

 

 

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The bottom line is that social media has helped charities become more accessible to consumers, and we can all be thankful for that. So, if you see campaigns like these, engage! It’s an easy way to do your part in giving during this holiday season.

In 2008, Barack Obama won what came to be known as the “Facebook Election,” partly due to his campaign’s innovative use of social media. His opponent, John McCain, opted to stay off Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels, which may come to mark the last time in U.S. History that a presidential candidate decides against using social media.

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In the upcoming 2016 election, presidential candidates are focusing on social media more than ever before. Campaigns are even breaking ground on new platforms like Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Vine. Hillary Clinton, for example, is a front-runner in the democratic primary polls as well as in social media statistics. The Clinton Camp is extremely active online, and they have employed creative tactics to gain publicity and promote Hillary in a benevolent light.

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Recently, Humans of New York, a Facebook account followed by 14 million people posted a photo of a young, teary-eyed boy. The caption quoted the roughly nine-year-old boy expressing his fear of being disliked and rejected growing up as a homosexual. Within a couple hours, in an exemplary move to engage her social following on the basis of her campaign-relevant ideals, Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page had left a comment on the picture offering powerful words of encouragement for the boy:

“Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you – there will be lots of them. -H”

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Consider Donald Trump as another example. He has faced criticism for his unfiltered comments on Mexican immigrants and on John McCain’s military service. It is perplexing that Trump chooses to be so outspokenly opinionated when some of his unconventional views generate animosity. However, it is exactly this trait, the stark candidness of Donald Trump, which makes him dominant as a presidential candidate on social media.

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Trump is a powerhouse on Twitter, because he uses the website as it is intended; he tweets what he thinks exactly when he thinks it. Donald maximizes user engagement by avoiding glossy, carefully worded posts and instead tweeting jaw-dropping proclamations. Trump unapologetically broadcasts his passionate and controversial opinions, generating publicity with a style never before seen from a leading presidential candidate.

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Social media has transformed the way Americans can interact with politicians. Voters now have the opportunity to examine presidential candidates from more platforms than ever before. Hopefully, these new perspectives will help us decide whose leadership we truly believe in before it comes time to cast our vote.

We’ve all had them before: those emotional moments, good or bad, brought on by some of our favorite sports moments. You may have been watching the Super Bowl with your family on TV, or been on Twitter obsessively to keep updated on who was winning the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, or maybe you were privileged to witness history when the U.S. Women’s National soccer team won the Women’s World Cup with a final score of 5-2 against Japan, just last Monday.

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Whatever spurred your emotional interest: a personal connection to the sport, the players, the sponsors, or the overall event was somehow cultivated. One can healthily assume that our game – the game of marketing, that is – had something to do with that connectedness. Sports marketing has grown tremendously over the past few years and PWC predicts global sports revenue will grow to $145.3 billion between the years 2010 and 2015.

The opportunity for sporting events’ reach is reflected in the Wall Street Journal’s calling-out of Snapchat’s Women’s World Cup social media shortcoming. The Journal reported on the photo sharing application’s missed opportunity. Unlike it’s done in the past, Snapchat did not garner sponsors (read: advertisers) for its Women’s World Cup “story”, which is a contributory compilation of videos and/or photos from its users, funneled into one channel that creates a visual “story” of what’s happening at that specific event or place. The article critiques the infrastructural capacity of Snapchat, and questions its capabilities’ appeal to advertisers.

And that’s just a missed opportunity. There are clearly advertisers and brands capitalizing on the connection consumers have to their sports. And as media grows more social, more mobile, and more interactive, that connection is not growing any weaker, anytime soon.

Lesson? Brands need to strengthen their marketing game, because ultimately the winners are the ones who not only know the sport, they know how to tap into the emotions behind it.