Snapchat: What a Trip Around the Baltic Taught Me

July 11, 2016

Social Media is an evolution of how people choose to connect on the internet - these days, Facebook for staying connected with family, friends and acquaintances, Twitter for news, what's trending and quick thoughts, Pinterest for inspiration, Instagram for artistic visual expression and now Snapchat for expressing even the most trivial part of your day with image or video. As I recently traveled around the Baltic Sea, I got a look at how people of many nations use Snapchat, the dynamic the app generates among its users and what brands are doing to engage with the 100 million users who are contributing to 100 billion daily video views.

Below are just a few places I saw and used Snapchat - the Houston airport saying goodbye to the heat, the Vasa Museum in Stockholm with a dedicated Selfie Spot of the best view of the 18th century warship behind you, and my favorite surprise from Russia - the immigration officer had a sense of humor to add stamps to my Passport on the page with the bear (from Russia with love.) And from all my snapping and observing how it was being used, read on for some of what I learned.

Snapchat - Small Moments Snapchat or Instagram - Selfie Spot

Individuals Publishing Content, The Big & The Small...IRL

Snapchat is very much a look at everyday moments of friends - IRL (In Real Life). Their tag line "Life's more fun when you live in the moment!" certainly sums up the motivation users have for opening Snapchat versus other social platforms. With most users using My Story these days over the messaging part of the app, some would call it an app of narcissism - publishing every moment of your life for anyone to see in My Story. Users likely look at it as a way to visually share the big and the small moments of their lives with friends. Why text "I'm bored standing in this immigration line" when you can snap a selfie of a funny face with a sticker on it instead? (True story, witnessed in Copenhagen.

Part of the booming content created on Snapchat is that with any bit of content shows for only 5 seconds or so and disappears in 24 hours, there's no fear of detailed analysis of the quality of the content. It is disposable if not done well. If it is a stroke of genius, you can save to your Memories (the newest update) or download to share to other platforms.

Entertainment Is Part of Content Creation

Our cruise ship had engine trouble which delayed us almost a full day and with an unfortunate extra day at sea, we had some fun with selfie lenses...perhaps a bit too much fun adding dog ears, face swaps, lifting eyebrows to engage with the app and capturing a unique video. The newest way brands are getting in on this is by offering sponsored lenses, of which you have a few examples I enjoyed playing with below! 

Snapchat Lens

Geography Leads to Artistic Expression & FOMO

Since I was on the move on a daily basis, I quickly saw how changing your geography changed what you'd see and how you could contribute on the app. The geofilters you can add to your photos from local artists that would help you share your location with some local flare.  

Snapchat Geofilter Snapchat Geofilter - Stockholm

Another experience was how you can participate in or see Live Stories displayed based on where you are and when you get online. As an example, we traveled through London the day after the Brexit vote on a short layover on our way to Copenhagen. While there, I picked up a newspaper, with headlines printed before the final tally so were prematurely (and tentatively) calling it victory for Remain instead of the eventual Leave win. For the 30 minutes I was in the UK, I had the opportunity to contribute to the Brexit Live Story, but once arriving at my final destination, I no longer could. It led to serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) for the rest of the trip; I needed to snap in the moment (not put off until later) or I could risk missing out on being part of a trending Live Story.

How Brands Can Use Snapchat

From the lens of a traditional content marketing formula (a great synopsis of this as explained from our ClickZ experience) which starts with a "rock" or piece of unwavering content from which all of your social editorial is driven, I've always been skeptical of how the ephemeral nature of Snapchat could achieve brand objectives.

With what I've learned from this trip, I see it two ways - entertain or be a part of a unique memory in a timely and geographically relevant way. 

Entertain & Engage

  1. Great case study is LACMA in Los Angeles whose Snapchat strategy brings interest to classical art with pop culture. See examples of their great work here.
  2. Netflix launched the new season of Orange is the New Black in Denmark with a huge activation in the middle of the city where you could faceswap with characters from the show. The engagement really came from the entertainment users find in the app. See some of the posts on Instagram.
  3. Budweiser offered a sponsored lens for 4th of July for their "America" beer. Great timing and played into their brand message with their America packaging of the summer. 
  4. Birchbox dove into snapping every day using a box and answering questions from their followers, from what I've heard from their team at ClickZ. 
  5. See this infographic by Marketo about how to get started on Snapchat and engage broader audiences.

Snapchat Promo in Copenhagen

Share in the Snap

  1. Create a geofilter - now small businesses can create a branded filter, set your geofencing and schedule. This is great for events or generating awareness around your store location. According to Snapchat, "In the US, a single National Sponsored Geofilter typically reaches 40% to 60% of daily Snapchatters."

The Challenges for Brands

The number one challenge for many brands with using Snapchat is the time it requires to take on another social platform which requires "in the moment" content creation. As you can read from LACMA's case study above, the innovative strategy they employ requires hours of planning before an additional hour or so of snapping. Furthermore, of the 100 million users, the core demographic is younger, female Millennials (70% female, 43% ages 18-24) according to eMarketer

Want to develop your organization's social media strategy? Contact Blue Sky Marketing to discuss the right platform and the right content strategy for you.


Author: Kate Wiggins Nilsen, Digital Marketing Strategist & Social Media Advertising Director, Blue Sky Marketing.

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