A view from Alec Braun

Time for a 'Snap-up': how Snapchat is transforming live experiences

Snapchat has evolved into a powerful tool to augment live experiences, writes Alec Braun, managing director, Slice.

I’ve got to admit, when Snapchat was first launched I didn’t think it would survive – I don’t think most people did.

After having it unopened on my phone for a grand total of six weeks it was deleted and regarded as a gimmick used only by teenagers.

I was very wrong.  

In the five years since its launch Snapchat has evolved enormously and at SXSW was more talked about than any other brand despite not having a physical presence. According to a report by CNBC, it was the most used app at the festival - with thousands of users downloading it for the first time in Austin.

The statistics speak for themselves - more than 8 billion video views every day and 100 million daily active users. And what’s more interesting is the rapidly changing demographic - no longer is it the app for teenagers, as half of daily new users are now over 25.

Constant development has been key to setting Snapchat apart from other social platforms. The introduction of Discover, content curated by publishers, and Geofilters make people sit up and take notice over and above a re-design of timelines. No other social platform has made so many substantial changes in such a short space of time. By doing this, Snapchat not only keeps existing users interested, but has also provoked sceptics like me to reconsider and get back on board.   

This rapid evolution has had a profound effect on the live event industry. Take Live Stories - curated by Snapchat, content is compiled from a specific location or event for 24 hours at a time. And while live experiences should no doubt be more than just moments in time, these stories can create real and immediate value for those involved.

But having been discussing recently with clients the potential that temporary social content like Snapchat offers, we’ve found three specific trends that we believe can directly augment brand experiences:

1. Authenticity

The immediate and temporary nature of Snapchat means content tends to be un-edited and more authentic. In the time it takes to think about the wording of a tweet, relevant hashtag and a corresponding link, someone on Snapchat will have sent five ‘snaps’ (pictures and copy) that are a more instant and genuine reflection of the live experience.

What’s more, you can’t comment on a video on Snapchat, see how many ‘likes’ or views it has or even see how many followers a particular user has. There’s less need to over think meaning and, by definition, the content becomes a more honest picture of a particular moment in time. There is on-going development on tracking and the potential for measurement across the platform but for now this stripped back opportunity means users are bolder in their interactions than anywhere else.

2. Accessibility

At bigger events like SXSW the amount of seminars, parties, and panel sessions are hard to keep up with and attendees simply can’t be in two places at once.

The real-time nature of Snapchat’s Live Stories feature means delegates can attend one session in person and watch content from other sessions immediately after it finishes. This means it’s easier to access content across massive large events and ‘missing out’ is fast becoming a thing of the past.

This will drive huge change for B2B events going forward. The traditional conference format is already dying with new technologies and the hunger for more immersive content driving constant innovation. Snapchat will very quickly become a key tool in sharing session content immediately and without the need for arduous and lengthy edit times.

The same can be said for consumers. With Glastonbury looming, festival-goers are already weighing up where to be for the headline set on Saturday night across the 90 different stages. Snapchat will change that decision process this year, allowing digital ‘attendance’ at any location no matter which muddy field consumers are physically stood in.

3. Activity  

Finally, with content on Snapchat being so quick and easy to consume, users are able to devour more of it and in more detail. We all have a habit of just scrolling through numerous tweets or posts aimlessly, but because Snapchat’s content is targeted and temporary, users are inclined to invest even more time consuming it. We all promise to ‘go back’ and read content on the older social platforms but it simply doesn’t happen. We live in a world of interruption and a platform that works alongside this rather than against it is immediately more appealing and requires less effort for more gain.

There will always be the need for traditional social platforms as part of live event solutions that facilitate the sharing of content before, during and afterwards. However, if Snapchat continues to evolve as quickly as it has over the past five years, then it has the potential to become the go-to platform for brand experiences across both business and consumer audiences.

And don’t just take our word for it. Speaking recently at Advertising Week Europe, Snapchat’s VP of content Nick Bell said the company’s focus was on sharing ‘events’.


So, what does that all mean? For me the real excitement is in how we can begin designing brand experiences specifically for the Snapchat generation - not simply relying on it as an amplification tool.

Consumer hunger for real-time content has never been higher, they’re desperate to brag about their own experiences and be ‘in the moment’ for social fame. Leveraging this need, with the immediacy of Snapchat, there could be a really exciting new form of brand experience emerging - the Snap-Up.  

Take the cost efficiency and speed of the now infamous ‘pop-up’ brand experience and evolve it in line with the ‘3 A’s’ explored above. Imagine a brave event designed specifically for snapping - not capturing – creating experiences people talk about in real-time.

Snap-up or not Snapchat is here to stay. The brands that can translate its potential and impact on behaviour outside of merely social and into the live space most effectively will really stand out in 2016.