Brands and Snapchat Stories: The Next Big Thing?

Snapchat, the ephemeral photo messaging application beloved by Millenials, has intrigued – and often mystified – brand marketers since its initial release.  While the ability to push content directly to users is a marketer’s dream, the short duration of messages has left many unsure of how to utilize the application. All of this changed with the recent unveiling of Stories, the inventive new feature available to all users. Snapchat

The Stories feature is a radical departure for Snapchat. Stories are a rolling compilation of snaps from the previous 24 hours. While the individual snaps are still limited to a few seconds, contacts now have the ability to replay each snap and view compiled stories as a longer message for 24 hours.

Herein lies the real value for brands. The ability to push content for a longer period of time and compose a long form narrative changes the way marketers look at Snapchat. Now, for example, a brand can send out a direct announcement to drive traffic to a campaign website at a specific time. The snap featuring the message and URL can be replayed; ensuring users have the time and ability to act off the snap.

The ability to build a daylong narrative also opens the door for creative uses of Snapchat by brands. Brands can now create a connected and engaging narrative for users, instead of relying on one-off snaps. Much like Vine brought about flipbook-style videos for brands; Snapchat provides a medium for content that tells a connected story that doesn’t get disrupted by the content of other accounts. A number of brands, including Taco Bell and the New Orleans Saints, have embraced Snapchat Stories as a new tool in their social media toolkit.

Many brands will, of course, have some concerns about the utility of Snapchat, most notably the lack of engagement statistics. Despite that drawback, it is worthwhile to at least examine the potential for promoting a brand. Most social networks evolve as their user bases grow and they seek a way to monetize and compete as larger social tools. Snapchat is still young and engagement statistics are very likely in its future.

It also is likely that as Snapchat continues to grow that it will offer new features and capabilities to expand on the value provided by the Stories feature. As the founders of Snapchat said in an interview with The New York Times, they “envision a future where the company could partner with brands or advertisers that want to show certain Snapchat users a glimpse of a new device, a preview of a new movie or a sneak peek of an upcoming line of clothing.”

Unlike their snaps, Snapchat is not in danger of disappearing fast. Snapchat currently processes about 350 million photos a day, which rivals Twitter and Facebook in terms of posts. With the arrival of Stories, the question for brands is how they can utilize such a powerful resource for brand messaging.

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