Snapchat has a few tricks up its sleeve: what to expect from the next updates

Snapchat has a few tricks up its sleeve: what to expect from the next updates

Firefly HQ

Firefly HQ

SnapchatYou may have heard about Snapchat making headlines in relation to recent celebrity spats: Kim Kardashian recently busted Taylor Swift on a lie via the platform; Selena Gomez publicly apologised to ex Justin Bieber through a snap; even the elusive Beyoncé and Jay Z have made an appearance on the app. However, Snapchat is more than just a public arena for celebrities to air their dirty laundry or conduct their feuds.

Since its inception in 2012, Snapchat has grown exponentially to 150 million daily users – it is projected to eclipse more established social media networks Twitter and Pinterest by the end of this year. Snapchat’s daily video views have hit 10 billion – surpassing Facebook’s 8 billion. There is no question that Snapchat has become a social media force to be reckoned with, and even social network heavyweights Facebook and Instagram are feeling the heat.

Snapchat’s success is attributed to its ability to tap into a key change in consumer behaviour: users today (especially millennials and younger consumers) prefer visual one-to-one or one-to-few communications over broadcast-style text across public networks. Like it or not, Snapchat is set to become one of the key social networks brands will need to invest in to connect with target audiences. The platform is very much aware of its potential and is experimenting with new technologies and making key investments to leverage its network and advertising opportunities.

With this in mind, what’s next for Snapchat? How will these updates be relevant for brands?

More immersive experiences with 360-degree videos ads

Snapchat recently debuted its first 360-degree video advertising with a trailer promoting the latest thriller from Sony Pictures Entertainment, ‘Don’t Breathe’. The 10-second Snapchat video ad features an immersive 360-degree version of the movie trailer through a web page link within the app. Unlike other 360-degree video experiences, the ‘Don’t Breathe’ trailer allows users to not only rotate their view within the video but to also enable an attachment feature that juxtaposes a text synopsis with additional supporting images.

The logical next step is for Snapchat to partner with VR brands and apps to provide more immersive experiences for users. What might this look like for marketers? Brands will be able to simulate the experience of a live demo for a new product or offer ‘real-life’ experience of attending a concert.  And to further this, users will engage with the 360-degree ads to decide which parts of the video they want to engage with.

Complex search and discovery features ahead

Snapchat snatched up mobile search and discovery app Vurb earlier this month, which will boost Snapchat’s messaging and search features. Vurb’s mission statement is to “create a smarter, more connected mobile world that empowers people to do more of what they want all in one app.” Vurb connects to other apps including Yelp, Uber, Netflix, Fandango, Google Maps, Rotten Tomatoes and more to help deliver a personalised recommendation and search interface. For example, if a user wants to go out for dinner in a specific location – Vurb finds relevant information on the restaurant of choice providing Yelp reviews, directions via Google Maps and finally a ride via Uber to the restaurant.

So what does Snapchat’s acquisition of Vurb mean for marketers?

While Snapchat hasn’t announced its plans for Vurb, one potential use for Vurb’s technology could be within Snapchat’s Discover section. As users share snaps from events such as sports matches, festivals, concerts or conventions, the integration of Vurb’s technology would lead to more conversations. Users can share new finds, make plans with other Snapchat users, buy tickets for events, get directions, make reservations and more. This will lead to more time spent on the Snapchat interface which will in turn lead to more time for brands to engage with users. Brands will offer hyper-local advertising and offers based on where and what users are snapping, as well as what searches within the app users are making.

How to get involved today: top tips for PR and comms on Snapchat

While there’s no word on whether or when we will see these features rolled out, there’s no reason for your brand to wait any longer to use the platform. So, how to get involved?

  1. Decide whether Snapchat right for your brand. While 50 per cent of new users are over the age of 25, the core user base still tends to lean on the younger side. If you are a brand targeting technology CIOs, this won’t be the right social network for you (yet). On the other hand, consumer and lifestyle brands targeting millennials should all seriously consider Snapchat.
  2. Create consistent and authentic content. If you are just starting out and testing the Snapchat platform, you don’t necessarily have to snap every day. Confirm how much time and resources you can put towards Snapchat and space out your snaps based on that. Brands that share insider views of their business – whether it’s backstage videos or pictures of new products in the showroom – have greater success in engaging with users.
  3. Build your community. Decide on your brand messaging and post content that is relevant to your brand and valuable to fans. Remember that every snap is an opportunity to build brand loyalty – respond to user snaps and plan interactive games or contests to build interest with users.

Snapchat has long since proved itself to be more than just a platform for self-obsessed celebrities and teenagers. As the fastest-growing social app in the world, Snapchat is one of the key social networks marketers should be aware of – and more importantly, understand how to leverage for their audiences. The app’s latest forays into 360-degree video and search means that brands will have more reasons to build their Snapchat communities.

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