When Snapchat first came on the scene, it was widely known as the “sexting platform”, where teens and millennials ruled the demographic. But like many social media platforms, marketers began to see it’s potential for businesses as a powerful marketing tool, making it the fastest growing social network to date.
One of the aspects that sets Snapchat apart from its competing platforms, is that these posts – or “snaps” – either videos or pictures, don’t just sit around and get lost in a user’s timeline, once they are opened. They are only around for 1-10 seconds before they disappear, allowing you to have your audience’s undivided attention once they open your snap. So make sure you get creative and offer extremely valuable content. You are giving your audience a unique opportunity to really engage with your brand in real time, so get savvy and create stories they can relate to.
Nick Cicero knows social media platforms inside and out, and is a leading authority on how to get the most out of your marketing initiatives.
Rich: Nick Cicero is the CEO and founder of Delmondo, a platform for creators, brands and media companies to produce and measure content on any screen. They’ve worked with a number of major brands including Jolly Rancher, Cinnabon, Priceline.com, JBL Audio and Twentieth Century Fox on influencer strategy across multiple platforms, especially Snapchat.
A leader in building digital content initiatives with proven ability to set vision strategy and execute, NIck has worked on numerous innovative products for some of the world’s largest brands and publishers like Universal Music Group, Sports Illustrated, Conde Nast and Clear Channel.
Prior to forming Delmono, he spent time building and implementing new enterprise social analytics tools with Livefyre, Expion and Percolate. He put the first Instagram Video on TV for Oprah – of all people – and built an innovative social content experience for the PlayStation launch in North America, among other projects.
Nick, welcome to the show.
Nick: Thank you very much, Rich. I am so glad to be here.
Rich: So this is really good I’m glad we finally got somebody on that can explain Snapchat to me. So I, admittedly, have not wrapped my head around Snapchat. And I think some of our listeners haven’t either. Can you just give me a breakdown of what the platform is all about – not necessarily just the marketing side – but just what is Snapchat and how are people using it?
Nick: Yeah, sure. So Snapchat is a communication tool that really allows people to send messages between each other – one to one – so they can publish them and send them in a story to other friends. So it’s a really cool tool, it’s unlike Twitter or Facebook where you’re kind of putting posts up there and leaving them up there for ever and ever. You’re creating content in the moment, you’re producing content that only lasts for 24 hours, but you’re doing it in a way that actually mashes up all the other aesthetics that you would find on your phone. So it matches the best parts of drawing and doodling with the cool features like photography and video and texts, that we’ve all come to know and love. So it truly is to me the first everything, it takes advantage of every sense of the phone.
Rich: Alright, so this is definitely a very mobile experience – and that’s always cool – we’re always looking for other mobile experiences. You mention “stories” and this is something I keep on hearing on Snapchat, although it seems like it was something that was added on maybe after Snapchat was initially launched. What exactly are “stories”?
Nick: That’s a great point. So there is a big differentiator to make between a “snap” and a “story”. So a “snap” is the one unit, a snap is a tweet in an essence. It’s the unit of measurement on Snapchat. So I can send a snap to a friend, I can send a snap to everybody in my group in a story. And when I actually combine and string multiple snaps together, I start to form what I call a Snapchat “story”.
So these Snapchat stories are long, sometimes they’re 4, 5, 6 snaps long or even longer, and they’re 10 seconds each. So you get the opportunity to tell a story from 1 second to 10 seconds or however long that you want, and you can actually string an unlimited amount of these snaps together in a 24 hour window to actually tell one, cohesive story.
Rich: Ok, alright, so snaps are like tweets but they’re also like chapters in a book and you basically have 24 hours to put together your book, but then it disappears forever.
Nick: I love it, that’s a great way to say that. I might have to steal that from you, Rich.
Rich: Please do. Alright, so here’s the thing that I’m trying to wrap my head around, I spend so much time putting together a blog post that explains everything about email marketing and its long form and it’s got pictures and everything in there and the idea that it would disappear in 24 hours, part of me dies.
I can understand why Snapchat was considered to be a sexting platform when it first came out, but I don’t understand why brands would be drawn to something that has such a short life. Why is that?
Nick: I’m going to give you the short answer because I think this is a long answer. I think that the bigger discussion that maybe you can talk about for an entire podcast is why do brands and marketers have such an affinity for permanent content.
Rich: Oh, that’s an interesting way to turn it on its head.
Nick: Yeah, so I think that’s maybe a discussion for a longer day and a longer podcast. But I think that does get to the core of it. I think that consumers today are consuming content on the go, obviously they are going back and searching and looking for more types, but they’re consuming content that’s on these platforms and on these channels, and they’re consuming content that’s being created specifically for these channels.
So I think that what you do have – the reason that a brand would want to be on there – is because there is a real ability to communicate with someone instead of just creating content for archival purposes or to be found later. So it’s a tool that puts you in the here and now that allows you to actually communicate and bring people into the day to day of your everyday life, which is something that we don’t see on other platforms.
I would also argue that if you think about your posts on Twitter or your posts on Facebook, you have brands that are actually creating very impermanent content already today, they just don’t realize it. The half life of a tweet is abysmal. I think the half life of a tweet mostly depends on how many followers you have and how many followers do your followers have.
But the ability for brands to get their content seen on other social channels has become more and more difficult. So I think that when you look at why a brand would be on Snapchat, I ask the question why would a brand be on Facebook or Twitter. You’re creating content in feeds and you have this process where you’re creating content every single day on these channels and it’s not living there forever, you’re getting a quick hit and then people are dying off because they’re ready for the next thing.
So I think that’s the cool part about Snapchat is that you have a hyper intense concentrated audience that is not scrolling through their feeds like they are on Twitter or Facebook, eyes glazed over, possibly looking at videos that have already loaded. They’re looking at friends in the Snapchat feed, they’re pressing and holding their finger down to open up their story and see this entire story and experience full screen without anything else. And that’s what I think provides a true business value on Snapchat for brands is because it is so markedly different in terms of consumption than any other social platform.
Rich: Alright, so that all makes sense. Just to kind of recap because I’m still wrapping my head around it, the argument for why a company or brand or an entrepreneur should be on Snapchat is the fact that a lot of the content that we are creating – especially on social media – is very temporary anyways. Even if it is being archived, it doesn’t have a very long life.
And the other thing is that I know personally when I’m on my phone and I’m killing time in line and I’m flipping through my Facebook connections and all that sort of stuff, I’m scrolling through pretty quickly. And what you’re saying is on Snapchat it basically locks down the screen, so I’m going to watch that 5 – 10 second video and I’m not going to be distracted with a million other things going on. Is that pretty close to what’s going on here?
Nick: Yeah, definitely. And I think that the other side is that people have smaller audiences on Snapchat. We’ve been accustomed to liking and following and adding all these things on all these channels without actually…it’s not chronological, so I think that’s the difficulty is that we passively have liked probably so many things and so many sources of content on our other channels. I think it’s kind of new for somebody to not have something to quickly just be inundated with a lot of content from different angles. And so at the end of the day what we’re also seeing is a high intensity of consumption, too.
Rich: Interesting. Alright, so let’s say that I buy your argument – and I do – and I’m ready to jump into the Snapchat waters. So I’ve got my Snapchat account, maybe it’s my personal account under The Rich Brooks, or maybe I’ve got one for The Agents Of Change, how do I let people know that I’m doing something, what kind of content might I consider creating and how do I build my audience? Those three questions.
So let’s start with I set up my account, and so the first question is, what kind of content might we think of creating for a small business?
Nick: So I think that if you’re a small business and you’re creating content on Snapchat, you want to remember that it should be entertaining and it should be valuable to folks and they should want to consume it and read it and you’re not an interloper. And so if you’re going to actually spend the time to be on Snapchat, you’re going to need to make really great content and it needs to be very authentic. You actually have to try to want to communicate with people on it and be named to the platform.
So if you’re a brand and you first start and sign up for Snapchat, you should first start following influencers and you should follow media companies and you should follow your friends. And that can be anybody in your immediate social network that is potentially like from your Twitter or Facebook fans that you might have reached out to and said you were on Snapchat. And then you should just spend a lot of time looking, you probably shouldn’t post anything yet. You should think about it, you should see how people in your other networks or audiences from your other social channels and see how they’re engaging. You should spend a lot of time learning how your audience wants to be communicated with on Snapchat, if at all.
That’s super important, because unlike Twitter and Facebook, Snapchat is so different and it requires time and investment to use it. That means that you can’t waste any of it. You can create tweets and you can put Facebook tweets out there that maybe don’t get sen and they still have SEO value. So you have to look and research and learn first, because it’s not one of those things you can jump right into. You want to be interesting and appealing.
The next thing that you should do is you should start thinking about what type of serialized story can I tell. Is there a way that – maybe I’m not posting every single day on my Snapchat – maybe I’m posting once or twice a week where I’m telling a really fun, really unique story. For example, maybe it is “Storytime Sundays”, or let’s just say you’re a local craftsman and you make really awesome leatherwork and maybe “Storytime Sunday” is you as the leatherworker sitting there on Snapchat doing your leatherwork and telling a story of a particular piece or the process by which you’re doing. And if you did that every single Sunday and you made a new piece every single Sunday, people would start to know that on Sundays they could go to your Snapchat account and they would actually see this great story. So it really sets it up like a video and I think that that’s really a good place for brands after they’ve kind of identified how they talk with their people. They should figure out what is their posting cadence, how are they going to create these stories, what type of regularity are they going to be publishing them, and then you want to use other channels to promote it, like your Twitter or Facebook. And then as that gets going, in a couple weeks maybe you bring in a special guest.
And so that’s a quick way to think about it first. So if you’re a brand you want to understand your audience, understand how they’re communicating on the platform, you want to lay out some content ideas that you can ideally repeat, and then try to execute them and really own it and use your other social platforms to drive viewership on that day.
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Rich: Alright, so a lot of this just sounds like really good advice for almost anything we’re doing in digital marketing. I mean the bottom line is listen, engage, pay attention, be native to the platform, follow influencers and see what they’re doing. And then also the one piece that feels a little bit different is just see what kind of serialized story that I could tell to my audience.
So that makes a lot of sense. Now if I decide that Snapchat is going to be part of my marketing and communication, is Snapchat about branding me, is it about engaging with my audience, is there any opportunity to drive traffic using Snapchat or is Snapchat just kind of an entity unto itself almost like an island?
Nick: I think it’s really hard, right, because what is a brand but the sum of the results of our activities as marketers. So I think that every piece of your story, every platform that you perform on, generally builds up to this story of what the brand is. So I think that Snapchat is great for building brand awareness, and obviously paid platforms are amazing for short terms brand awareness if you’re buying ads on Snapchat.
Where Snapchat really fits in is that personalization engagement and communication tool. Like I said, to go back to the other platforms, you’re absolutely right where we do produce content, we do listen on these platforms but we’re hampered in a different type of way. We’re limited by algorithms and ad platforms that are meant to serve in there.
The difference in Snapchat and why I say it’s about engagement and communication is that while many brands are telling great stories and making it very entertaining and valuable, it has a unique ability to give you a behind the scenes exclusive look that a lot of other social platforms can’t do. I guess you could post behind the scenes photos on Twitter and you can post a lot of them, but it’s not quite the same as having that personal mobile communication shoot that video on your phone – vertical video – going and then clipping another one and clipping another one. Being able to give people that access, respond to people and give them that personal relationship. It’s just kind of more ingrained from the core being a mobile first platform, and I think that that’s a huge advantage for brands is that we’re starting to see that more and more of our consumers are actually consuming native content on these platforms on the go.
And with that to the last piece you talked about – driving traffic – it becomes very difficult on any platform to try to drive traffic off of that platform when we’re talking about a mobile first audience. And so with Snapchat what they’ve done is they’ve given a really cool ability to create a communication, to create a dialog, to give people a window into the world without limits for those stories. But at the same time make it very easy to understand that if I’m a brand and I have specific goals that I can buy paid media to help supplement that, I can use things like windowing strategies to actually set up my users to watch a certain type of show if I’m snapchatting that. I can actually keep them engaged during the entire length of the television show on Snapchat because that’s where their eyeballs are.
And I think that for a brand, the tough part is that we’re thrown with all these channels. Rich, you’re a marketer, I’m a marketer, we know where we’re at, I’m not trying to sugarcoat it. I’m sure you’ve had Chris Brogan on this show and other folks, I’m sure they’re even saying stuff like this for 5-10 years now anyways. So the tough part is that we do try to discover the best in all new platforms, but really at the end of the day, the eyeballs are what we want. And when we’re looking for people and communicating messages to them in this new mobile landscape, we kinda do have to play along and we kinda do have to find the right platforms that do have the right eyeballs.
And Snapchat may not be the end all be all like Facebook is, which I think that Facebook is amazing as an advertising platform. Snapchat is one of those things where it’s a consumer app. It’s a communication tool, it’s not like Google or building your own website, you’re still building on somebody else’s land. So it’s awesome and it’s great for brands, but the ability to produce really unique and interesting content on this platform – as opposed to the Twitters and the Facebooks of the world – I think are what is the difference.
Traffic is very difficult to say, “click this link”, there’s not really clickable links except for in chats and you can’t really scale mass sending of chat messages to people. You can spell that out or use vanity url’s, and that seems to be something that’s interesting, but it’s also a very tough user experience. But that engagement point – once again – I can create things, there’s other tools. I can screenshot an image and I can save that image of a snap to my phone. So what we’re seeing are brands and even our Delmondo clients and we’re going out there and creating other types of opportunities that can drive engagement and connect the loop as well.
A simple thing is a point of sale code. Point of sale codes haven’t changed, they were invented long before anybody ever said, “Let’s do a social media campaign, how are we going to track our ROI?” That was around long before then. So some of the success that we’ve seen are very simply including coupon codes or discount codes or snapping offers to people that they can then screenshot and redeem. That’s a very easy point A to point B way to track the engagement and the path of purchase from different consumers on Snapchat and off. So that’s one way that I think you can talk to or speak to how to drive traffic or get an ROI measurement out of a platform like Snapchat that we can’t see into. I know that’s a long winded way to answer a multipart question, but I hope that helped.
Rich: Well, I think so. And so one takeaway if I’m hearing you, outside of chats there’s no way to drive a clickable link for Snapchat to somewhere else, right?
Rich: A way around that or a way to engage and measure and track some of our engagement on Snapchat would be if there’s some sort of redeemable code. And then if we can get somebody to snap an image on their phone to hold onto that snap for us and bring it into our stores and discount. Then we can see that this platform actually is reaching our intended audience.
Rich: So that brings up another important point. I’m obviously a generalist when it comes to social media because I have a wide variety of clients from my day job at Flyte New Media. So people are always feeling overwhelmed and so a lot of people are thinking, “Oh my god, Snapchat, too?”, like they have to figure this out. But what I tell people is you go where your audience goes. I stay on Twitter because I love Twitter, but outside of Twitter it’s like the rest of it I’m paying attention to where my audience hangs out. Who is currently hanging out on Snapchat? What are the demographics that we should be aware of?
Nick: The demographics on Snapchat are surprisingly older than I think people would imagine. Most people tend to think that Snapchat is really, really young, 13 – 18 year old platform. And while it may have started there, Snapchat is actually aging up as did Facebook.
Rich: Old people ruin everything. That’s what you’re telling me, right?
Nick: Well, I just turned 28 and I feel pretty old now myself at the same time. So when I hear that it makes me laugh because I’m even starting to feel like the old guy on some of these platforms now. But yeah, so it’s fascinating, we have some stats that came out that show that 75% of all users – especially in the US on Snapchat – are actually over the age of 18. Which is pretty significant when you consider the rest of the time comparatively that Snapchat has been in existence and the even smaller amount of time that it’s been on the radar of a marketer.
While Snapchat is ¾ of the audience in the US 18 and older, Snapchat really does find its home with that young, female millennial, Gen Z, I would say 30 and under. If you’re looking to target people on Snapchat if you’re a brand and you’re looking for that – especially a consumer brand or a media brand – you’re looking at media brands, sports brands, consumer brands, fashion brands, any brand that has a really good pop culture tie in to live things. You’re looking at 30 and under, skewing female and I’d say the strongest group is probably your females 15-22. The strongest group tight now that we see are probably between 18 to 24 is the strongest demographic right now for Snapchat in the same way that Instagram and others work.
Rich: So basically the children of LinkedIn people are on Snapchat. That’s basically what I’m hearing right now.
Nick: Say that one more time.
Rich: The people who are on LinkedIn, their children are using Snapchat. I’m just trying to find a generational gap here.
Nick: Yes, absolutely. I would say totally. The people that are using LinkedIn, their kids are definitely on Snapchat.
Rich: As a guy that’s pushing 47, the fact that you’re only 28 makes me feel really, really sad right now.
Nick: When you talk about 13 year olds and their social media habits it does start t make me feel old. Not to deviate from Snapchat too much, but obviously where Delmondo comes in and where my company kind of specializes is these new platforms, we have no guide for a platform other than watching and studying consumers. And that’s why it’s so cool to be in a creator space. So we’re working with these amazing influencers and creators who have huge networks and are building new networks and new platforms that are coming out every single day that we have no idea about.
So when you ask yourself how do I evolve as a marketer, how do I improve myself. Sure you can read tons of business books and marketing books and there’s tons of smart people who have taught you fundamentals and basics. But then you have the whole next wave which is identifying the right behaviors which is looking at young people who eventually will become young adults who eventually become old adults and watching their behavioral patterns and watching what’s next.
Like I said, I was recording podcasts in 2005 and now 10 years later I watched podcasts die of for a little bit and thought it didn’t make sense that podcasts aren’t in cars. Now all of a sudden and finally this year did we just get our first “podcasts are in cars” announcement type of deal. So I think that you have to look at where these platforms are going and you have to look at influencers or creators in order to be able to see where is the next space going and what are these consumer behavior trends skewing towards. I don’t know if anybody a few years ago would have just sent that live action video, it could have been everywhere. I think that a lot of people were very skeptical of it. And now look, we’re all live streaming from our phones with iMessage every single day and Facetime.
Rich: Absolutely. It is fascinating because every year – maybe every month, maybe every week – some new canvas arrives and then it’s about how are people going to use this canvas to create something amazing. And then old people and marketers jump on and ruin everything, and then they have to move to the next more exciting canvas, but that just seems to be how things work out.
Before I let you so I just want to ask one more wrap up question on Snapchat. Are there any analytics? How do we know as marketers if we are doing a good job on Snapchat, outside of having somebody come into our store with a coupon?
Nick: So one, Snapchat themselves don’t provide a ton of analytics to date. They do provide some, but for brands I think your looking and measuring success in terms of the value in the community. So as with every social platform you have to ask what do I need to get out of this, what’s in it for me and what is the value that I’m giving. And then once you understand that I think you can make a little bit of a better decision.
Just to kind of give you a quick and dirty breakdown of metrics, which is a little bit different obviously than pulling insights out of it, but you’re looking at things like total views, impressions, the length of your stories, how many people have watched that story, how many people have completed those stories. Right now Snapchat is you open up your story all you can see are the number of views in each one of your snaps. There are a ton of different ways to slice that data if you’ve spent the time working in it, and that’s what we’ve been doing at Delmondo. So for the past year we’ve actually built out a method and a process for collecting and pulling all that. That’s what we just put out in the market with our product.
But if you’re a regular brand, spreadsheets work, too. I’m no stranger, when I first started I was pulling weekly Google analytics reports and trying to track them over time and exporting them and dumping them into Excel to analyze that data. So it’s not as served up on a silver platter as we get from Facebook or Twitter – which we’re kind of spoiled with a little as a marketer – there is quite a bit of data to be analyzed on Snapchat if you actually take the time and break it down to its parts, and that can tell a lot from a brand.
Just a quick tip in this shoutout to my good friend, Chris Mikulin – who runs a great company called CLYW Yo-Yo’s in Canada – he’s really smart on Snapchat and does something really cool, he’s been polling. So he will actually share 4 photos of different styles of yo-yo’s and invite people to screenshot the snap of the yo-yo they like the best. So he actually can see – based on the number of screenshots – like a poll, who actually has voted and who’s voted for what and use that as feedback that he can take into his business.
Rich: That’s actually awesome. It’s so funny that you say that because while you were talking I was trying to envision creating a story that harkens back to those old “choose your own adventure” stories, where you could actually do your snap every week and it would be choose your own adventure and people could decide do you go down path A and fight the dragon, or do you go back to the house and get more armor or whatever the case might be. So feel free to use that for your clients.
This has been awesome. I really appreciate it, I think this is a great introduction to Snapchat, I feel I can definitely dig a lot deeper, I’m sure you have some other information for us. Where should we go online, where are you hanging out that we should be checking out?
Nick: I think that if you want to be looking at things in general, if you want to look at our stuff, you can go Delmondo.com, or you can add us on Twitter or that’s probably where you’ll catch me most, between Twitter and Snapchat.
If you’re not checking out our blog or our resources, there are some other great places that you should think about to be tapping into these emerging platforms and these new audiences. We have a site called tvrev.com, and that’s a site that’s focused in the convergence of media entertainment and technology.
And then finally just one of my favorite sites, I really like Tubefilter – more for entertainment types – I really love Digiday – definitely more for marketers and publishers – and I think that those two give you a good look into that creator space and also where a lot of these new publishers and platforms are going. Because if you’re a brand that’s a really good signal where the shift in audience is headed is what the publishers are doing first. So I think that those are good ways, if you’re a marketer, to kind of keep on top of what’s happening.
Rich: That’s great. I really appreciate it, I’m definitely going to dig a little deeper. Nick, thank you very much for coming on the show and sharing your expertise.
Nick: No problem.
- Go follow Nick on Twitter!
- Head to Nick’s business website for valuable blog posts and other resources.
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- Rich Brooks is a marketing superhero by day where he runs things at Flyte New Media in Portland, Maine. In his spare time, he orchestrates the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference, where some of today’s most prolific minds in the world of search, social and mobile marketing meet and educate.
- Transcription provided by Jennifer Scholz Transcription Services.