In the social media wars, it's clear who the favourites are: Facebook and its lovechild Instagram. Zuckerberg's beasts admittedly are leading in terms of the amount of users and advertising avenues. Brands venturing into the world of digital advertising feel safer using the tried and tested methods of Instagram and Facebook to promote their latest products. Snapchat's 24 hour stories may appear on the surface too risky for many and its audience too young.
Some of the problems I hear a lot about why brands don’t factor Snapchat into their advertising agenda are:
1. Limited Platform: Content disappears within 24 hours unless you keep reposting it.
2. Safer to use Facebook: It's been around longer, we’ve seen companies use it successfully, and there's more users, an obvious choice seemingly.
3. Lack of tracking: It's difficult to gain data on what's happening on Snapchat, which can put companies off from spending their hard earned cash on it. Whereas with Facebook you can tailor ads to target specific genres of people, based on age, sex and interests. That capability doesn’t seem possible on Snapchat.
But if you think that Snapchat isn’t worth your time and money, that's where you would be wrong.
Snapchat may not be the most conventional of platforms, but that's a large part of its appeal.
Generation Z - those pesky 13-21 year olds whose attention brands are fighting to grab - are elusive audiences. They are quick to skip and scroll past ads. Their time is reserved for only the most engaging, authentic content. Inevitably, this creates problems for brands who are vying for their views.
Here’s why I’m backing Snapchat:
1. LESS COMPETITION:
In a world of oversaturated digital ads, Snapchat is still relatively untapped. Whilst huge brands have been and still are using Snapchat all the time, it's not to the same degree as Facebook or Instagram. This means less competition to engage with Snapchat's 173 million daily users, many of which are teenagers.
2. FULL SCREEN ADS:
Whilst Facebook may have ads integrated into their newsfeeds, it's easy to ignore or completely miss them unless you are seeking them out. That's something that can't be said for Snap because ads take up the whole screen.
Now you may be thinking that users can simply click through, which clearly is an issue. But that's where my next point comes in.
3. INTERACTIVE & ENGAGING ADS ARE WINNING
Snapchat is perfect for creating fun, friendly Ads. I’m not just talking your generic Insta post with #Spon or #Ad, I’m talking quizzes, games, voting, lenses & geofilters, as well as exclusive discounts and competitions.
With Snapchat's new 'Swipe Up' feature it means users can now be directed straight to a brand's platform like their website, something that could be a game changer for brands sitting on the fence about Snapchat's capabilities.
4. POWER OF INFLUENCERS
Influencers are using every platform, from Twitter to YouTube. But whilst on other socials, where influencers are more rehearsed and perfected, Snapchat sees a behind-the-scenes, unfiltered look into their lives. Young audiences crave this type of content, which is a key reason why Snapchat appeals to them. These influencers have the power to advertise to their millions of Snapchat followers in such a natural way that users don’t even realise it's an ad in the traditional sense of the word. And that's the goal, for users to want to watch ads and not feel like they are interrupting the stuff they actually chose to view.
5. YOUNG PEOPLE LOVE SNAPCHAT
45% of Snapchat users are aged between 18-24. The filters are perfect for the selfie obsessed Gen Z, and its short 10 second bursts of videos are the perfect length to hold their attention.
Plus, content is only up for 24hours max, meaning there's constantly fresh stuff to check out and young users don’t have to deal with seeing the same old thing all the time. Facebook and Instagram use algorithms to keep popular content visible for longer, inevitably favouring that of celebrities and high profile influencers.
Whereas Snapchat values the expiration date of its product and therefore appeals to the everyday user and not just those with millions of followers.
Companies need to be careful; Snapchat is a powerful tool but it can easily be misused.
One way brands can get it so wrong is by counting the number of people who view a Snap rather than considering how many of those views actually engaged with the content i.e. watched it all, screenshotted or swiped up to a platform page.
Snapchat is already killing the Ad game, and brands shouldn't overlook it when they are considering their advertising strategy, especially if they are wanting to reach out and stay connected to younger audiences.
The companies who are going to differentiate themselves are those who are going to branch out and use Snapchat to not just reach audiences, but engage them as well, being sure to avoid the common pitfalls above.
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