Fireworks, bonfires, sparklers – some things flourish when they’re kept short and sweet. Equally, a glimpse at a fleeting message can be all that’s needed to, conversely, stick around in someone’s mind and is an increasingly popular marketing method. If condensed timings are considered, these ephemeral platforms can be a fantastic way for brands to reach out to consumers with immediacy and impact. To augment this impact, brands are encouraged to innovate resulting in more creative work.
As the HBO series Girls demonstrated, this could take the form of sending backstage shots on Snapchat from the red carpet for the series premiere. This completely echoed the way their target audience might send photos to their mates were they in the same position. In this way, the communication is directly relevant, not to mention the real time element building anticipation for the show. These digital previews can provide pseudo-VIP access to a sold out event, including a wider audience yet only in a strictly limited way that heightens exclusivity.
Brands can even play on the transience of advertising formats directly, such as the WWF, who reference the short duration of Snapchat images to reinforce the short lives of endangered species. Lynx also referenced the reputation of Snapchat as a sexting platform, urging any new ‘friends’ who replied with something insalubrious to “take a cold shower” with their new product.
At least for now, short lived advertising platforms allow companies to run campaigns that will get noticed above others, whilst also being seen as distinct enough not to detract from any wider campaigns they might have running. This is exactly what Audi did during the Superbowl. Their Snapchats with sarcastic newsflashes stood out compared to companies throwing money at prime time TV slots. Since it also lasted for just the excitement of the evening, it didn’t overpower any other campaigns they had running.
Kate Spade reserve their hugely discounted flash sales for Facebook followers, hosting it on a separate subdomain and without any announcements before, meaning bargain hunters fans wanted to be kept in the loop so they could catch a chance to benefit. The epitome of fast pace can also perhaps be applied to one frozen yoghurt company’s campaign to secure customers a discount if they sent them a snap after they were served, but before they got to the counter. Creating a buzz instore is a good way to gain more followers for future campaigns in a way that utilised word of mouth.
The fluctuating nature of Snapchat images also plays to the strengths of other branding campaigns, such as the effort by Dove to improve girls’ self esteem. With a subject as sensitive as this, Dove were able to engage with girls in a social media space, where comments were not stored or made public, potentially causing more anxiety. This inbetween social media stage where content is neither a public broadcast nor totally private is an interesting ones for brands to tap into, since it is then inherently reserved for those people you are closer to. Due to this more personal nature, Snapchat messages also seem more emotional, capturing hints about the moods of your friends at different moments which Dove could use to personalise their brand.
Here’s hoping that if brands jump on the bandwagon that the popularity of Snapchat lasts longer than the snaps themselves.