Mr Social on Snapchat: Harnessing the power of disappearing content

Rob Lee, founder of specialist training and consultancy service Relative Links, discusses the capabilities of Snapchat and how it can be used in the world of live events.

Rob Lee gives tips on how to use Snapchat at events
Rob Lee gives tips on how to use Snapchat at events

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is the current 'golden child' in the social media arena. New headlines appear every few days highlighting a new innovation within the app, and exciting new brand campaigns - everything from the new video chat options to movie tie-ins like the Batman vs Superman lens capability - make Snapchat an app that is moving firmly forward.

It has a huge user base: figures published by Snapchat revealed that there are more than 100 million active daily users and they watch ten billion videos every day. Worryingly, however, it is estimated only two per cent of professional marketers have truly engaged with its platform. Why is this?

Anyone who has explored the Snapchat app knows that it is not as user-friendly, or as intuitive, as some other social media platforms. To put it bluntly, at first glance Snapchat is confusing, frustrating and unlike anything most marketers normally use. When you start using the app, you notice the content has an abundance of emojis and quirky, low-quality pictures that make it look more downmarket than other brands - Instagram, for example. Add in the fact that content disappears after just 24 hours and you have some of the many understandable reasons why marketers quickly write off Snapchat as a potential business-marketing tool.

However, with a few minutes of Snapchat persistence you can uncover well-hidden tools or little-known nuggets of advice for users looking to highlight their event to a carefully identified social media audience, whether they be individuals, celebrities or brands.

What Makes Snapchat So Unique?

Snapchat's 'Stories' feature effectively gives you an easy-to-use video-editing tool to craft fun, engaging temporary narratives aimed at engaging your audience. Adding to your story is incredibly easy:

1. Take a photo or record a short video

2. Edit by adding filters, text or drawings

3. Click 'add to story'

Your followers then have 24 hours to view your story in chronological order before it disappears. For fans already engaging with your brand or event, the time-sensitive nature of content means they have to check the Snapchat app regularly to remain current. This is a key reason why Snapchat reports such phenomenal video viewing figures globally.

It's not unusual for Snapchat users to view dozens of videos in a single visit to the app, and if your brand or event catches their eye, that user can check back in multiple times a day to see what's new. It's quick, easily digestible news that is by no means a drain on people's short attention spans and compels the user to keep looking for more content. It also induces you, as a content provider, to keep producing engaging subject matter to boost awareness.

Embrace Snapchat's uniqueness

The fun, quirky nature of your content should be embraced, not avoided. Some marketers believe they need to replicate their high-quality Instagram content on Snapchat, but that's not what users of the app expect. Viewing a story containing short-form, raw content does not feel like a marketing exercise; it feels like personalised, authentic communication from a trusted friend. Snapchat is a very different social media experience to other platforms. To get to 'peek under the hood' of a brand in this way makes the audience feel part of a super exclusive club. This could be your club.

At the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, 12 million people viewed the Snapchat Live Story of the event. This compares with an average viewership of 9.8 million on the television broadcast: one event, two different mediums, both huge audiences. The television broadcast presented only a single perspective at a time and a highly polished, professional end product, while the Snapchat Live Story was a curated selection of fun, ten-second clips and images that featured what was going on behind the scenes.

On the subject of these numbers, Viacom Media Network's head of sales and marketing, Jeff Lucas, said: "I don't think one excludes the other. The days when people are watching in only one place are over."

Bear in mind that Snapchat stories provide you with a low-cost opportunity to showcase your event in a completely unique, real-time, authentic way. The app does not have to replace your other social media activities - with a little practice it can complement them really well. Think of it as worthwhile 'bonus content' that will resonate with your engaged audience.

Tip and ideas for using snapchat for events

Plan it out. Make sure that you have a purpose and goal for your story before you start shooting it

Rewatch your story regularly. Don't be afraid to delete any elements that derail your narrative

Add in local geofilters. These will become recognisable for viewers

Consider a paid geofilter. A great way to make your event feel special for Snapchat users, these paid geofilters give you huge exposure in an affordable way

Do an account takeover. A highly effective way to create a huge audience is to have an influencer take over the Snapchat account for the duration of the event and highlight it from their perspective

Interview attendees. Give viewers a behind-the-scenes exclusive interview with guest talkers, or get attendees' opinions as they arrive or leave

Make sure you show the sponsor. Remember to give the sponsor of the event a shout-out

Embrace the messaging aspect of Snapchat. Ask for viewer feedback or get them involved with a competition

Seven snapchat facts

100m daily users
8bn video views a day
86% of Snapchatters are under 34
54% of its user base use Snapchat daily
9x more likely to watch adverts
(don't have to switch phone on side)
9,000 photos shared on Snapchat a second
30 mins average time per day spent on the app

Rob Lee is founder of specialist training and consultancy service Relative Links.

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