Most trend watchers and predictors don’t like to revisit the things they get wrong.
I’ve seen many ‘Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google is dead’ posts over the years that quickly get swept under the rug when they turn out not to be true, or at least post rationalised with ‘well it looked likely given the information at the time, so I wasn’t really wrong!’
The consumer tech/digital market is just generally too unpredictable to predict.
That’s partly why, when I’m making any Irish digital trend outlooks, I try to look for macro trends backed up with some cultural movement, rather than make big statements about specific products or apps.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret.
I made that exact mistake with Snapchat.
For a very long time, I just didn’t *get* it.
An app with poor UX, no real opportunity for brands to get involved that relied mainly on ‘being different’ to Facebook and allowing self deleting sexting snaps? A bubble company doomed for failure surely?
In fact, in a 2014 trends report, I predicted that ‘Snapchat would be dead within a year’.
What an eejit.
Since then, the app has become one of the most exciting social platforms in the world, and brand opportunities now seem obvious! Despite a mouthy, controversial CEO, Snapchat has communicated its value equation brilliantly.
But more important than that, while it may not have the scale of Facebook or WhatsApp in terms of broad demographic usage base, the product is so addictive, innovative and different that active daily Snapchat usage is enormous.
‘Snapchat is addictive to millennials because it reminds them of their favourite food – a burrito. You can take it wherever you want, put anything in it, it’s easily consumed and it disappears when you’re done!’
In brand terms, Snapchat is the new frontier for building brand awareness with young people. That’s a very interesting space, considering the huge growth of ad blocking, and the decreasing amount of live TV watched by those under 30. Facebook’s recent push into live video is seen by many as an attempt to corner this market. But Snapchat already has a head start.
Globally, the likes of Burberry, Taco Bell and Audi are early adopters of the platform.
But recently, there’s also been an increase in Irish brands using Snapchat too.
Irish brands using Snapchat
According to the excellent IPSOS MRBI survey, 25% of Irish people have a Snapchat account (though this % probably goes way up if we only take the under 30 bracket), and of those, 65% use the platform daily. Like I said above, that’s enormous daily active usage.
The first, and newest, behaviour amongst Irish brands using Snapchat is the branded filter. Regular users will be very aware of these overlaid lenses, which can also be geolocated to a certain area. Cadbury’s Creme Egg was the first brand to use the tool in Ireland, and according to a recent SBP article, saw over 1.6 million engagements in Ireland and 11 million in the UK.
Speaking to a source in media agency land, this sort of activity can cost up to 60-100k, and needs to be run via both the UK and Ireland markets. So for the moment, it’s only really for the big multinational brands to look at.
Another ‘Irish’ brand, Jameson, used filters in the US on St Patrick’s Day (a good fit!). The distiller ran a sponsored geofilter on Snapchat, age-gated and targeted to Snapchatters 21 years-old and up that saw huge interaction.
Others to use Snapchat branded lenses globally include Gatorade and Beats, and you could see how this activity would be great for a large event, product launch festival or most interestingly, for Euro 2016.
Irish Snapchat Influencers
The second main way that Irish brands are using Snapchat is through branded accounts. Though much of this activity is sporadic, and only at a test phase for many brands, the likes of Tayto, Electric Ireland, Penneys, Peter Marks, San Lorenzos restaurant and even Aer Lingus and others are first movers.
Media brands have really cottoned on to the service as a way to spread their content too, with Joe, Balls, The42 and plenty others all very active on the channel.
Expect active brand usage to grow as marketers start figuring out the channel, albeit the big concern is the cost of creating fresh, interesting content daily.
And that’s where influencers come in. The final main way outlet for Irish brands using Snapchat is through an ambassador. The likes of James Kavanagh (the king of Irish Snapchatting) AnouskaPB, Vogue Williams and plenty others are partnering with brands, particularly in the beauty sector to take over their accounts and create content for a day.
The issue here is how to define value. Influencer marketing is a bit like the Wild West at the moment and some ‘influencers’ don’t yet understand the brand/ambassador payoff, causing astronomical quotes for fairly routine activity. However, using influencers that are native to the app already to answer that brand ‘where does our content come from?’ question looks like an interesting way out.
Overall, besides me being completely wrong about it, Snapchat is becoming a credible tool for Irish brands. It’s value proposition is simple and importantly, older brand managers who are used to TV metrics can often understand the value of visual, video based branding better than other spend options like Facebook sponsored stories of Google PPC.
Sure, measurement on the platform is pretty much non existent at the moment, and it’s all still early stage, but this isn’t just a fad, Snapchat is here to stay and is evolving well.
With recruitment ongoing in London for account managers and marketing managers, I wonder if a smart Enterprise Ireland executive might take a trip over to persuade Snapchat that a nice little office on Silicon Docks would be a great hub?
Who knows, we might even see an Enda Kenny face swap lens option before the year is out…