No Kidding, Snapchat’s Story A Serious One For Savvy Marketers

If Facebook’s offer to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion back in 2013 didn’t pique marketers’ interest, maybe that 22% of ad execs said they planned to advertise via the $20 billion-valued app in 2016 will.

Indeed, Snapchat is a quickly growing, formidable force in the social media sphere, with 100 million daily users who spend an average of 25 to 30 minutes on the app each day. Snapchat “stories” result in about 10 billion (yes, with a “B”) video views per day.

Of course, some brands were quick to get onto the platform and start snappin’. The early adopters even have something of a strategy in place for how and when they use the platform for engaging users--and some were kind enough to share their wisdom with CMO.com.

General Electric
General Electric, for one, uses Snapchat as a way to let the outside world into the organization.

“We love to open our doors to show off the people, places, and technology that we have the privilege of working with every day,” said Sydney Williams, head of social media marketing at GE. “When we can share never-before-seen or behind-the-scenes views of the technology that makes the world go ’round, we see really great engagement. And we have fun with it using the tools the platform is known for.” 

GE regularly makes use of doodles, emojis, filters, and fun text, she said. The company’s goal? To entertain its fans by creating content exclusive to the platform.

“We’ve learned, however, that we can’t overdo it,” Williams said. “We must be smart about quality over quantity and ensure that that content is relevant to our audience and true to our brand character.”

GE’s target audience, the 18- to 24-year-old demographic, falls right into Snapchat’s sweet spot for advertisers looking to connect with “fanatically engaged” Millennial and Generation Z consumers. According to Statista, consumers between the ages of 13 to 34 comprise 86% of Snapchat’s active users.

“They are our future employees, the next-generation of our customers, and potential investors,” Williams said. “As such, it’s important they understand who we are as a company.”

GE has used Snapchat to provide fans with a real-time look at some of the company’s most advanced facilities around the world, DIY science experiments, and behind-the-scenes shots of scientists and leaders. In other words, it uses Snapchat to show the human side of the GE brand: climbing a 300-foot wind turbine, capturing drone flyovers at its jet engine testing facility, traveling on its Tier 4 locomotive test tracks in Colorado, and featuring fan Q&A sessions the company’s CEO, Jeff Immelt.

Outside of programming original content for the channel, GE has done some interesting activations with geo-filters. Last year it had geo-filters at airports and train stations across the U.S. during the busiest travel time of the year–the holidays–to raise awareness about its role in transportation technology. Nearly 50% of all Snapchat users who unlocked the filter chose to use it, resulting in nearly 1.5 million uses over the course of two weeks.

GE also teamed with pro-skier Nico Vuignier, who took over the GE Snapchat account live from the Swiss Alps. Vuignier filmed the first 360-degree video of himself skiing down a mountain–using only some string and an iPhone on a day celebrating all-things-round: Pi Day.

Country Music Association
For the Country Music Association, Snapchat is also a way to bring people behind-the-scenes. It uses Snapchat for some of its big events, including the CMA Music Festival and CMA Awards show.

“That’s really what the fans want to see; they want to be able to have access to things that they can’t see on television,” said Damon Whiteside, SVP of marketing and partnerships at CMA. “Snapchat has proved to be a good way to help us drive tune-in to the [awards] show, just by showing things like red-carpet, behind-the-scenes, and other elements that you can’t see on the TV. Snapchat is a good companion to the TV event.”

As the official trade association for country music, CMA is looking to create more engagement around the genre. According to Whiteside, it has never been about marketing one artist or song. Its bigger goal is promoting country music and bringing new fans into the mix. Snapchat has shown to be a good platform for helping it do so.

CMA used geo-filters at the CMA Festival this year, resulting in more than 2.5 million impressions. The company also did live stories at the event, allowing different artists to take over the company’s Snapchat account.

According to Karen Do, senior manager, brand social media at Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company), Snapchat is not quite made for brands at this point. But that hasn’t stopped the company from making inroads. “We have learned that whatever we do on the platform must have a really authentic voice and personality,” Do said.

For Adobe, the strategy is to get Generation Z and Millennials to understand its story.

“The focus, for the most part, is really sharing the creative side of our story,” Do said. “As a medium, Snapchat lends itself better to creative stories. To date, our execution on the platform has primarily been driven by takeovers to make it as authentic as possible to this generation.”

One example is Adobe’s Creative Residents program, for which the company hires, for a year, a few different creatives to work on their “dream projects.”

Craig Winslow, whose project involved bringing old “ghost signs” from now-historic buildings back to life in Portland, Ore., took over the Adobe Snapchat channel to share his journey. He documented his entire process, everything from the road trip to Portland to the research behind old signs.  

“What was really special about Craig’s use of Snapchat is that he kept it very, very real,” Do said. “He shared the trouble that he ran into in regard to the logistics of it, and working till 4 a.m. to get this done in time. He really gave the down and dirty of the creative process for his project.”

Measuring success on the platform can be a challenge, Do mentioned. Analytics, as of now, are not available, so her team has to take a screen grab of a story that has been shared to view data for it. Stories stay live for only 24 hours, so coordinating the effort to make sure her team gets the data points it needs has been quite a process.

As of now, Adobe’s social team measures the success of Snapchat efforts by comparing them to one another. “Are we getting more views over another?” she said. “Which influencer is resonating better in terms of the way the story is told?”

Do said her team has learned that the key to Snapchat success is having compelling content that fits the platform. “That’s why these takeovers really work for our audience,” she said. 

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