Image and video-sharing mobile app Snapchat has fast become a popular way for brands to reach out to a younger audience. ASB, Vodafone, Spark the NZTA and a number of other brands and organisations have seen merit in using the platform and have reported successful results. And while a little late in the game, Stuff has just jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon and only three days since launching its account, it already has a few thousand ‘friends’, and counting.
According to AdWeek, some 400 million snaps are sent through the app each day and 90 percent of the estimated audience is made up of 13 to 17-year-olds, so it makes sense for brands to use Snapchat, travelling to where the audience is rather than trying to lure it to their own platforms.
Stuff digital communities manager Janine Fenwick agrees. “Experimenting with new networks is really a big part of our audience-centric strategy and we are working to reach New Zealanders where they want to consume content rather than expecting them to come to us,” she says.
Stuff digital communities manager Janine Fenwick
“And it gives us the opportunity to engage with a younger audience. We produce world class journalism but we like to have fun at the same time … “
What surprised us though is how late Stuff was picking up Snapchat, seeing as its website targets younger news readers and it has been an early user of other apps like Periscope which it has trained its reporters to use.
But this doesn’t mean Stuff wasn’t considering it, as Fenwick says the app has been on Stuff’s radar for quite some time, it was just a matter of testing it out. “It’s always been something that we have known would be a really good fit with us. So it’s been on our radar for ages, it was [the wait] just trying to figure out how to do it.”
Outside of the really slickly produced ‘discover’ content with Snapchat, most brands internationally are feeling their way around the network, she says. "We took quite a while experimenting. We’re not used to being on camera either, we aren’t TV journalists so we had to figure out how to do it without being horrifically awkward everytime. It was actually just sitting down and thinking about resources and ‘how do we want to tackle it’ and what our voice is going to be and what we want to be putting out so we’re not too busy figuring it out as we go along.”
She says Stuff didn’t need to pay Snapchat anything to use it. “No, we are just using Snapchat as anyone else would use it. Just as a person on there who is making friends and sending them content.”
However, Stuff is quickly gaining more friends than your average user, with Fenwick saying since it launched its account three days ago it’s already had three thousand people adding Stuff on Snapchat. “And we have been getting thousands of views. In those two [three officially] days that we have been running it more than 350 snaps have been sent to us. It’s been incredible to see the audience respond immediately as soon as we did the first one. [People saying] ‘Reading you in Melbourne [or] London [or] Dunedin’.”
The content Stuff sends out through Snapchat won’t be the same as it is on the website, she says and Stuff will only upload content to the ‘My Story’ section. “ … there will still be the big news events and videos when those things happen but mostly we will have real humans on there talking about issues Kiwis want to discuss and hopefully making them smile along the way when that’s appropriate.”
We spend a lot of time on our content and how we produce it but the technology of Snapchat is a lot more casual and you have to be casual on it, she says. “People aren’t sharing perfectly produced video. Getting those snaps back, it was like ‘Oh yeah this how people use it’ and it’s working and we will be using that for a gage for the type of content we will be sharing. Is it the kind of stuff people want to comment on and is it worth sharing.”
She says there is a core group on Stuff’s social team in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. “But we have trained reporters across the country in different regions to be able to use Snapchat and have access to our accounts so when something happens in their region they can send it in. For different types of content as well, like sports … [there’s] probably about 10 people [in total] at the moment.”
Stuff will also include some of the Snaps it receives on the website, she says. “We are already getting snaps of people saying ‘Look what’s going on in my neighborhood’. I can definitely see it having a use for vox pops and things. Or, for example, if there was a weather event we would put up [a snap] saying ‘Is it snowing where you are, send us a snap’ and we could potentially put up a compilation of that on the site.”
Social media is increasingly being used in this way, with the Herald posting the public’s photos and videos they had uploaded during the rough weather over the past weekend, including the video below.
Being able to use the platform in this way ties in with our community engagement work we do with Stuff Nation, she says. “With our comment section we are always encouraging our readers to share their views and photos which we integrate through to our site. This is just another way to interact with readers and a way that they can feel part of how we tell stories.”
ASB ran a campaign earlier in the year to target university students. Users needed to add ASBBank on Snapchat and it released two challenges each week on the ‘My Story’ section. Each challenge was open for 24 hours and those who completed it entered their details to go into the draw to win anything from McDonald’s vouchers to concert tickets.
There was also a total of 22 scholarships to be won between January 5 2015 and March 20 2015, with every challenge entered correctly also being added to a draw to win $10,000, which was be deposited into an ASB Tertiary accounts.
And the campaign was successful, with Evans saying ASB has around 20,000 friends on Snapchat and achieved 160 percent of its target for sign up accounts.
Evans says the bank also used Snapchat to drive customers into the branch. “We had activations at our branches whereby we said that we had a prize locked inside a safe and whoever cracked the code won the prize. We had up to 500 people queuing at our Auckland University branch.”
There were even some unexpected pleasant surprises which came from the campaign, he says, with the bank receiving about 800 ‘snaps’ from its users, completely unprompted.
In February last year, Vodafone took to its social channels to ask fans from Canterbury and Otago Universities to add the company on Snapchat. It built its following from 48 to 400 users in a week.
The telco used the application to send snaps to those who added the company, assigning them a task and revealing the location of a lycra-suited 'morph man' carrying helium balloons with prizes in them.
Rival telco Spark has also used Snapchat, asking Rhythm and Vines New Year’s partiers to add it for the chance to win prizes. This campaign led to 183,000 Snapchat views of Spark's Rhythm and Vines stories over the three-day period of the festival.
Radio stations too are seeing the benefits of using Snapchat. The Edge Brand Manager Rachel Langford confirmed to StopPress that Snapchat was a natural evolution of its social space, calling it a platform that allows the station to be “immediate, honest and real” – the station targets 18-39 year-old Kiwi women.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and Clemenger BBDO also saw the value in using the app, and created a campaign last year to warn against drug-driving, where users added ‘Tinnyvision’ as a friend, after which they were sent a series of (mostly) funny stoner snaps directed by Taika Waititi.
Skinny mobile also used it last year to give away mobile credit in a campaign with Auckland-based digital agency Young and Shand.