Founded by Evan Spiegel (who, by the way, was born in the 90s👶) in 2011, Snapchat was once the reserve of selfie loving teenagers and party-animal students. Fast-forward five years and this is simply no longer the case - the brand reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year-olds in America on any given day.
Snapchat’s relationship with ecommerce has developed from a commitment-free fling to a full-blown marriage over the past couple of years. From the Snapcash payment feature launched in 2014 to February's annoucement that the company is "developing its own ecommerce platform", it's a relationship that's constantly in flux.
For this post, we're going to focus on how Snapchat can help ecommerce marketers promote their brand - starting with the basics and then moving towards more advanced and payed for features.
- Why your Snapchat name is so important
- How to tell your brand's story via the app's free Stories feature
- Snap Ads
- Sponsored Lenses
- Sponsored Geofilters
Choosing a Snapchat name
If a user wants to search for a brand on Snapchat, they have to do so in the same way as they would look for a friend.
As demonstrated in the screenshots above, you have to know a brand’s username or “Snapcode” in order to find and add their profile. This is a potential drawback for brands such as Mulberry, whose Snapchat name - MulberryEngland - is quite tricky to guess first time around.
Take-away: If your brand hasn’t created a Snapchat account yet, try to make your name as simple and easy to find as possible.
Storytelling with Stories
One of the biggest challenges facing brands today is the ability to communicate their story in an informative albeit succinct way across multiple channels. This makes Snapchat’s Stories feature particularly valuable to ecommerce marketers.
If you’re still a stranger to Snapchat, Stories are “compilations of Snaps that create a narrative”, and appear chronologically with a start, middle and end.
Brands are using Stories in a myriad of innovative ways, but classic usage examples include: sneak peeks at a new line, clips from fashion week or snaps from a work event (no doubt there will be many spooky, stylish Stories from retailers on October 31st).
Brands to have already developed a strong reputation for delivering good, organic content on Snapchat, include Everlane, Valentino, Warby Parker, Misha Nonoo Burberry and ASOS.
To show you how it works, here's a glimpse at three of those brands in action:
Warby Parker cleverly use Snapchat Stories as a way to show consumers what it’s like to work for the brand on a day-to-day basis. Quirky, fun content such as this doesn’t take long to create, but is entertaining, uplifting and good for brand identity.
Despite being one of the most famous luxury brands in world, Italian powerhouse Valentino lets its followers into its (once exclusive) world by documenting events such as Paris Fashion Week.
For a really innovative example of a brand using Snapchat, check out Misha Nonoo.
The New York based designer has become famous in the fashion world for her Live Lookbook during fashion week, showcased via new-media brand Refinery29's account.
Click on the image below to watch the introductory video.
As well as using your own Snapchat Stories, you can also tap into influencers' profiles to promote your brand. Companies to have tried this include shopping search engine ShopStyle and retailer FarFetch.
Snapchat’s Discover channel debuted shoppable ads from Lancôme and Target in April, and since then numerous top brands have followed suit.
To recap, Discover is made up of different channels from leading publishers who create content on a daily basis. They enable you to watch Live Stories from an event or “check out local Campus Stories”.It can be opened by swiping right on the Stories screen and then tapping a channel that takes your fancy.
Discover is also a prime advertising opportunity for brands. Whilst flicking through - let’s say - Cosmopolitan, users will be presented intermittently with paid adverts.
As stated on Snapchat’s website, Snap Ads start with a vertical, full screen video ad that “appears in the context of other snaps”, and gives users the choice to “swipe up” and see more “just like they do elsewhere on Snapchat”.
As pointed out by AdHawk blog, this ”swipe up” feature “changes the game of advertising, essentially turning advertisements into valuable content that can be found across multiple networks on Snapchat”.
The swipe-up rate for these ads is a whopping 5x higher than the average click-through rate on rival platforms. Here's an example from online retailer Zalando.
And now for the really fun stuff.
We’re confident that 99% of those reading this will have seen a picture of a Snapchatter having fun with lenses at some point over the past five years.
From Face Swap to the whiskers and dog ears, Snaps enable users to have fun with special effects and sounds delivered in real-time. More on lenses here.
And now brands are creating their very own lenses! Here’s an example of our marketing manager Hannah, experimenting with a sponsored lens from UGG to commemorate the onset of autumn - aka, "UGG season":
...and another example from Kenzo and H&M, created to mark the launch of the KENZO x HM collection:
Key takeaway: If this all sounds silly to you, bear in mind that, on average, Snapchatters spend 20 seconds playing with a Sponsored Lens. Shit just got real.
To the uninitiated, Geofilters sounds like some kind of technical geology initiative from Snapchat. It’s not. Geofilters are just “fun overlays you can add to your snap”.
Snapchat offers users two different types of geofilters: community and on-demand. For ecommerce marketers, you’ll be looking at the latter.
With brand logos and trademarks permitted, on-demand geofilters can be used to promote an event, share a specific location (such as your brand’s HQ) or just promote business.
For a relatively low cost (beginning at $5), brick-and-mortar retailers can pay for their own filter that enables those shopping in-store to share branded snaps.
Snapchat users can find them by taking a photo, then swiping to see what’s on offer in the area.
Click on the screenshot below to check out dating app Bumble's Geofilter at work.
...and more ads are on the way
Over the summer, it was announced that skippable ads would also start appearing between friends' stories - thus bringing together organic and sponsored content in a seamless way.
As reported by The Verge back in June, the ads themselves will be "certified by third-party agencies" and not just by Snapchat itself (which has been the case hitherto).
At this time, the company also revealed it would be "launching a new API that makes it easier for (brands) to buy and manage ad campaigns" on the app".
Automated ads are currently in testing, and are yet to be introduced to the UK; however, it was announced just today that the likes of McDonald's and Unilever are among the first to try them out.
Make it Snappy
If your brand isn’t already on Snapchat, we suggest creating a profile - fast.
Just like any other channel, the benefits of the app will depend according to things like your demographic and marketing budget. For example, if your customer base is over 50, you may want to think twice about investing time and money in this channel.
However, if you do have the resources available, it’s worth bearing in mind that Snapchat currently boasts over 100 million users, and - with initiatives like Spectacles coming through thick and fast - this is a company that’s showing no signs of slowing down.