The next social marketing frontier? Skinny’s ephemeral experiment with Snapchat

Youth-targeted telco Skinny Mobile has found an inventive new way of reaching its customers, using mobile app Snapchat.

Snapchat is a messaging service that allows you to send a picture or video to someone you know over the internet. The key thing that sets it apart from other messaging apps is the timer. If it’s a picture, the sender sets a time limit on it of up to 10 seconds. After that 10 seconds, the picture isn’t viewable anymore.

Videos can also be up to ten seconds long, and can only be viewed once by the receiver. 

Snapchat has become commonly known as a ‘sexting’ app, as users can be fairly certain that no one can share their racy images after that ten seconds is up (the app also alerts the sender if the receiver takes a screenshot). Mostly, though, Snapchat is used to share inane snapshots of people’s lives. Because it’s a messaging service and not a social network, it hasn’t been used much as a promotional tool.

But Skinny, along with its digital marketing agency Young & Shand, came up with an experimental campaign. On 9 July Skinny sent out a call to arms on its Facebook page to get its customers to add the company on Snapchat, enticing them by promising a surprise the following day.

“We figured that we’re all using Snapchat to communicate ourselves so we figured our fans were as well,” says Skinny’s digital and social manager, Henry Hewson.

Within 24 hours, Skinny had 605 followers on Snapchat. Not bad for an emerging platform, although the brand’s Facebook page currently has nearly 140,000 ‘likes’. 

“Then at 3pm we released our $10 credit giveaway image and awaited the response,” the company says in a statement. 

Skinny, which is a sub-brand of Telecom, received responses back from 60 of its 605 new followers.

“One lucky Skinny customer managed to grab themselves $10 free Skinny credit, the rest opened our fun image and had a quick six-second engagement with us to tell their friends about.”

Hewson says the company has kept gaining followers since. 

“Not at the initial rate that we saw, but we check it about every two days and we have about ten a day.”

He says, anecdotally, that Snapchat seems to be doing well in New Zealand.

“I think New Zealanders like being anonymous when they’re communicating,” he says.

In the US, Snapchat is installed on 18.6 percent of iPhones and, as of mid-July, has more than five million active users per day worldwide. According to the Google Play store, the app has been downloaded for Android devices more than ten million times.

Skinny Mobile will likely use Snapchat again in the future.

“We might use it for dropping new announcements, new campaigns,” says Hewson.

He says the company hasn’t used many other emerging platforms in the past.

“But we have sort of tried to be more ahead than the rest. Taking a quick look at our Facebook page, the posts we have been doing compared to the rest of the telcos in the country gives a pretty good image of that.” 

Young & Shand has worked with Skinny on several campaigns, including the company’s $4/week text message deal, Txt Bomb. The campaign went from zero to 75 percent market awareness in three weeks, according to Young & Shand’s website. Saatchi & Saatchi was behind the launch of the Living Skinny brand. 

Young & Shand’s Ben Young says his company will also be running a Snapchat campaign for Hallensteins.

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