By Todd Lombardo
“I don’t get Snapchat.”
Unless you’re under 25 or have teenagers of your own, chances are you’ve heard — or maybe even said — these words in the past 30 days.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
And recently, Snapchat has been getting a reported 10 billion video views per day, largely from millennials, two billion more than Facebook.
At CakeWorks, we don’t buy into hype, but we do buy into data, and we believe in following the video views. So while Snapchat has its challenges, it also holds tremendous opportunities for marketers and media companies.
Snapchat doesn’t fit any conventional media model
Snapchat is made up of a few major components:
- Snaps (messaging photos and videos between individuals)
- Stories (individual + live events over the past 24 hours)
- Discover (the publishing platform)
Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel’s explainer video is worth watching.
Discover is the most like a traditional media platform. It has content with ads served in-between. Snaps are more like one-on-one conversations, and Stories are generally original content. This means marketers also have to think like media companies, and media companies also have to think like messaging apps.
Companies can’t hold out much longer
If you or your company haven’t yet explored Snapchat, listen up: you have to. Audiences are growing, and innovation is happening, whether you want it to or not.
All of us in the media industry have to embrace change (a good life mantra!), and push ourselves to evolve how we think about video. Even though audiences, engagement, views, storytelling, measurement and monetization still matter.
Start doing these things
Marketers have to stop thinking like a TV spot. Media companies have to think beyond their own properties, and beyond an individual story. When it comes to Snapchat:
- Strategize video initiatives for both Discover and Stories.
This is an important distinction, often overlooked. Discover and Live are generally where ads run between content. Stories are a behind-the-scenes peek that you control, a real-time live meta-reference home-movie of anything you like over the past 24 hours.
If you are one of the 20 publishers on Discover, you likely already have a dedicated group, like Refinery29’s ten-person team, to create cohesive 24-hour stories that span multiple videos and formats. And Discover is driving views: Cosmo gets 19 million average monthly visits.
- Integrate Snapchat into larger marketing and publishing strategies.
Most brand conversations start off with the familiar funnel of awareness, engagement, response and ROI. Great. Explore large scale views at the top, interaction + follows in the middle, and conversion at the bottom, like Target, which is already testing Snapchat’s new ecommerce ads.
For publishers, it’s views, views and views. And monetization. But if you aren’t one of the 20 on Discover, there’s a tremendous opportunity to drive affinity among millennials, buzz around events (like Billboard + live music), and drive traffic back to owned-and-operated properties.
- Borrow audiences.
It’a not a new idea, but featuring personalities with large followings of their own is a fantastic way to grow your own audiences, views and brand affinity. Just ask Coke and Selena Gomez:
Companies should consider allocating portions of their marketing budgets to partner with personalities on platforms like Snapchat, but only if those personalities are willing to engage their own audiences on your behalf.
- Take advantage of the Snapchat video tool set.
Mix it up with videos, graphics, text overlays and animations. Straight video or TV spot pick-ups are far too staid. Custom-for-Snapchat is better. Also, shoot quick cuts and vertical video. Use filters, music, drawings, emojis and lenses. Ask for snaps back. Let go of your need for perfection. Informal, unscripted, real. BuzzFeed is great at this.
If you’re a marketer, push for more ad products, targeting and measurement. The Nielsen partnership is a good start, as are Snapchat’s targeting efforts, but dollars will only continue to flow with provable ROI.
If you’re a media company, push for more premium monetization, like Snapchat’s new interactive video ads, because great content isn’t free. Monetization has struggled under the weight of fraud, viewability issues and ad blocking. Snapchat and other mobile platforms have an opportunity to take these on.
Snapchat needs to help marketers and media companies do these things, and grow premium, monetizable views. It has the momentum, if the NewFronts were any indication. Hype moves on, but results do not.
Take it from Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines Digital Media: “If you want to connect with millennial audiences,” he said, “you need to get Snapchat right.”
Embracing change, but need a creative spark? Check out: Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, Rep. Eric Swalwell , plus DJ Khaled, Ellen, BuzzFeed and Billboard.
Todd Lombardo is the head of marketing at CakeWorks, a video consulting firm. He has held digital marketing leadership positions at advertising agencies, Fortune 500 media companies and Silicon Valley start-ups.