Is 2020 the year of organic Snapchat strategy?

SWAN of the Week, Number 159
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TL; DR: Snapchat may have just dropped its biggest news in 9 years. It’s time to start thinking about cross-platform content strategy on Snapchat. It just leveled up. 

Here’s why…

“Brands can be friendly, but they’re not your friends.”

This is a quote from Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel I heard first-hand as he explained why he didn’t want brands to have user-level profiles on Snapchat in the early days.

Many of us longtime social strategists pushed back – knowing that MySpace, Facebook and Twitter also didn’t want (or weren’t prepared for) brands to make profiles and behave like everyday people. But brands are gonna brand.

And eventually they came around to introduce things like Brand Pages, Business Pages, and Verified Accounts, respectively. Because brands are gonna brand.

When my team built weekly organic content and pulled off the first Snapchat from outer space for Jack Links, Snapchat didn’t care about it whatsoever. When my team introduced Snapchat Spectacles to pro sports with the Minnesota Wild, Snapchat didn’t care about it either.

At the time, Snap didn’t want brands driving followers, sharing content, or doing engagement-grabbing stunts. They wanted us to advertise and certainly not make organic content. The result is high quality, attention grabbing ads and highly-produced content series on Snapchat with a high amount of distinction between user content and brand content. The paid ads work pretty well, actually. So few brands continued prioritizing complementary organic content strategy on Snap, because it wasn’t designed for it AND users didn’t go there to follow brands.

But this week that approach is drastically changing with Snap’s launch of Brand Profiles

Brand Profiles offer a permanent home for brands on Snapchat, built around their unique investments in the app – starting with AR Lenses, native commerce stores, and content highlights.

Four main components of a Brand Profile:

  1. AR Lenses: Brands can save and showcase Lenses on their profile, allowing any Snapchatter to discover and/or revisit a brand’s unique AR experiences.
  2. Native Store: Profiles may include a Native Store experience that enables Snapchatters to seamlessly browse and purchase items directly within the Snapchat app powered by Shopify.
  3. Highlights: With Highlights, brands can showcase collections of their best Public Snaps, Stories, photos, and videos right on their profile — permanently!
  4. Story posts: With their Public Story, brands can share what’s happening in their world with Snapchatters everywhere — from behind the scenes to daily activities — your Story is your daily point of view.

This shift by Snapchat seems to be significant – perhaps in direct response to TikTok’s embrace of brand profiles and the popularity of Instagram Stories. Brands usually copy from Snap, but we’re starting to see it go the other way. Snapchat just introduced TT-inspired vertical scrolling, for example.

If your brand advertises on Snap or is relevant to Snap’s audiences, this announcement portends you should immediately start considering building follower acquisition, engagement-based filters, shopping, and organic Snapchat Stories into your enterprise marketing, media, social and content strategy — whether or not you’re currently utilizing Snapchat in your marketing mix.

There are new questions to answer, however. Things like: the mix of paid/earned/owned, the unique aesthetic and role of Snapchat, content quality and cross-posting content opportunities, targeting, measurement, the ROI of yet another place for organic content, and more. 

Lots more to learn while this in in beta. Time to watch those initial brands closely and start having the internal conversations about where Snap is going to fit in your marketing mix for the rest of 2020 and into next year.

Because brands are your friends. Whether you like it or not.

See you on the internet!
Greg

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