Take Facebook, once a social hub of activity. Now simply a Timeline inundated with shared and promoted videos and photos. To see any content from someone you actually know, or brands you actually care about, takes endless scrolling. When a video we are interested in does finally appear, a small countdown circle appears in the corner warning us of an impending advertisement. Personally, I abandon any attempt to not only watch the video but to use the app.Instagram is better in regard to advertising, subtly sliding a video in-between stories that last a mere 10 seconds, with the ability to swipe past, and, for now at least, sparingly place promoted posts on our feeds. A recent example of an in-between story advert that caught my attention is one where the head of actor Keanu Reeves is shown floating above text. It’s odd and visually impacting, however, I’ve still had to research the company being advertised as my attention was very much on Reeves’ head, and not on the words below it. The product is Squarespace. So, close, but no cigar. This suggests that while our attention is attracted to celebrity culture, it may also be distracted from the product they’re trying to sell.
So, Snapchat remains a strong presence in branding, not by relying quite so heavily on celebrity endorsement, live Q and As, behind the scene raw videos, or bullet point piece of texts to summarise news articles; all of which are now becoming unanimous with social media. Instead, filters are very much a Snapchat feature and a powerful branding tool, and though it may no longer be the only platform to use them, with Facebook adopting the feature last year, Snapchat remains the pioneer of this particular interaction.The more successful social media campaigns are those brands who buy filters for Snapchat. They rely on single well-timed campaigns, rather than bombarding our feeds with their content. One such company is Gatorade. The company paid for a filter that gave the illusion of drinks being poured over the user’s head in the style of a winning team celebration. Serena Williams, who is sponsored by Gatorade, filmed herself using the filter, the snap was subsequently watched over 100 million times.Films are one of the most common users of Snapchat filters, with ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, ‘Alien’, ‘Ghostbusters’, and the recent ‘Justice League’, all paying for their brand to be advertised using this creative approach. One that interacts with the user and does its best to make the film memorable. By using this filter, you can become a particular character, from X-Men’s Storm with lighting eyes, or become a member of the ‘Justice League’ and donning Wonder Woman’s Tiara, or wear the famous Batman Cowl. Each campaign lasts 24 hours, creating a sense of urgency for diehard fans.Though Facebook used the same marketing tool to promote ‘Justice League’, with perhaps greater interaction, I would argue Snapchat has the upper hand. Snapchat was originally designed by Evan Spiegel to send private photos and videos of students at college, with the knowledge that the content would be deleted after 10 seconds once opened, providing a feeling of safety. Facebook requires just that touch more effort, one that may deter users from accessing the filters, especially if it means posting on your timeline or story in order for others to see.
Social media has redefined online marketing. Forcing brands to constantly adapt as each platform develops new methods for both app and user to be creative and informed. Whether it’s Facebook’s use of marketing on our Timelines, or brands paying for their place in-between Instagram stories and sponsored posts.Snapchat arguably has the strongest influence on social media. The pioneers of the 10 second photo or video that disappears after 24 hours publicly, or when sent privately to a single user disappears after 10 seconds once it’s opened. The format has forced marketers to become increasingly more creative and resourceful to grab our attention, retain it, and then entice us back for more.Though perhaps a reflection of our diminishing attention span, (which you could argue was already in a state of decline), it’s now been accelerated by social media. So, brands have utilised an array of methods to keep our attention; such as creating more interesting videos, using celebrity endorsements, filming behind the scenes so that we feel like VIPs, and generally doing all they can to think outside the box. The question is, while we may remember the interactions with brands, do we actually remember the product they’re trying to sell?
When using a branded Snapchat filter, you are very aware of the brand advertised because Snapchat tailors the interaction to the brand. Providing a quick, fun, easy, and most importantly memorable interaction with both the brand and product. By solely focussing on the interaction and relationship between customer and brand, it establishes that both brand and interaction is remembered. After all, who hasn’t dressed up as their favourite superhero at least once and then felt inspired to watch the film?