Think Beyond Facebook, Why Brands Should Experiment Socially


Advertisers have been slow to take up Snapchat. It is a fear of the unknown. Not only is it a new platform to them but Snapchat isn’t as measurable or transparent as its social counterparts - it can’t tell you exactly who you are speaking to and where.

Advertisers have been slow to take up Snapchat. It is a fear of the unknown. Not only is it a new platform to them but Snapchat isn’t as measurable or transparent as its social counterparts - it can’t tell you exactly who you are speaking to and where. 

With Facebook and Twitter you can be far more granular in your targeting; you can build look alike audiences. This knowledge of your audience is amplified by programmatic buying which uses data sets gathered across the web to build audiences as broad as 18+ Dubliners and as narrow as GPs in Cork. 

Snapchat’s typical audience demo are 13-25yrs olds – but the beauty of this audience is they are really engaged in the medium. They are daily users snapping and sharing content, snapping on average 12-18 times a day.  Indeed, the latest IPSOS MRBI social messaging tracker (April 2016) ranks Snapchat as the fifth largest messaging platform at 27% (up 2% since January), but it has the largest daily usage at 72% (up 7% since January).  

With numbers like this – it is surprising that advertisers have not jumped quicker into the waters of ephemeral content.  Snapchat has so many different products for an advertiser to use including Lenses, 3V advertising and Discover (stories). While Discover was quickly taken advantage of by media brands like BuzzFeed, Vice, and the New York Times, 3V and lenses have proved harder to crack. 

These products really resonate with younger audiences. They are at a stage in their lives where friends are more important than their families and earning kudos amongst their peers is often via humorous and shareable content.

3V advertising stands for vertical video views. It means that videos should appear on a user’s phone as they hold it, vertically, and the creation of a video should be made with that in mind. By removing the user’s ability to flip their phone and watch horizontally, Snapchat has ensured that an advertiser’s content is viewed as it was designed. Snapchat contend that by doing this, they are increasing video view completion, engagement with the video, and ultimately improving sales. While this sounds like an advertising slam dunk, Snapchat does not force ads upon their users. For an ad to be viewed, a user has to load it up and play it themselves. While advertisers might be justifiably concerned about creating content specific for a particular platform that might not even be viewed, Snapchat believe that this makes it far more engaging and will generate more reach. 

Snapchat offers lenses which takes the users faces and places graphics on top of them. We have all turned ourselves into a Viking, a dog or vomited rainbows at some point. We have even swapped faces with friends, with hilarious, if not creepy, results. These lenses are fun and shareable, taking the digital world by storm. I’m sure we have all seen the click-bait articles about the internet taking face swapping too far. With the wave of PR that is sure to follow lenses, even with lenses which are in bad taste (Snapchat recently “blackfaced” their users with a Bob Marley lens), advertisers want to capitalise on this. However, this presents its own unique challenges. Not many brands around the world have created content like this and even fewer know how to turn this into a success. How do you keep to the tone of the platform, light and irreverent, and stay true to your own brand principles. Indeed, it is important that brands don’t leap straight in without making sure it is the right fit for them. I am not sure how a financial institution would be able to utilise a lens to convey its message. However, for FMCGs, clothes and make-up brands it feels like an obvious platform to be involved with.

Fortunately, our client Cadbury’s Crème Egg was the perfect fit for Lenses. This was a brand which prided itself on its cheeky nature and wanted to communicate with the younger audience in a fun and engaging way. This can often prove tricky as many youngsters will only remain loyal to a brand or follow them if they are offering them something – usually a freebie!

Working with Snapchat, Cadbury were able to create a lens which ticked all the boxes. Was it fun? Yes. Was it silly? Yes. Did it have enough interactive elements to grab a user’s attention? Yes. 

Snapchat splits the success of a lens in to three different categories:

1. Uses: Lens is applied and sent to friend/posted to a story

2. Views: How many times the lens was viewed by someone else either from a direct message or within a story

3. Swipes: The amount of times a user had the opportunity to use the lens on their own phone.

On top of all this, Snapchat measures the dwell time on the lens. While you don’t know much about who is using the lens, you have a clear picture of viewability, engagement, and ultimately its success.

The results far exceeded what the most optimistic forecasts predicted, even within the Snapchat team. Reach in Ireland exceeded over 1.5 million and while we cannot share the exact details of the performance, it has prompted a renewed interest in utilising Snapchat more often and branching out into more of the products it has on offer, even amongst the most sceptical within the team. Media heads and brands should watch this space to see what Cadbury do next. 

Results spilled into other disciplines - News outlets, radio stations, websites, and social influencers engaged with and shared the app on their various channels. The cost of the lens was easily covered by the free PR it generated. 

At the moment, brands need to partner with their UK counterpart to make it affordable in this market. However, if you feel it is the right thing for the brand here, it probably is for the UK as well. The Irish team here pushed our colleagues in the UK to get on board with the idea. 

Is “Be more Snapchat” a lesson advertisers should be trying to take to heart? Too often, advertisers talk at their audience rather than on their wavelength. If you only ever talk at people, they will eventually stop listening, if they were even listening in the first place. 

Snapchat is a company that wants to get advertisers and brands to buck that trend by forcing advertisers and brands to be platform specific with their messaging. By embracing these changes being rung in by Snapchat, brands and advertisers will be able to find a more engaged audience more willing to listen to the message we want to put out there. Either that or we keeping shouting into an endless choir of voices hoping we can shout the loudest.

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