Monday, June 6th, 2016 | 7 min read
When social media platforms change their algorithms, or launch one for the first time, it can cause frustration and controversy. The recent rumors of a new Snapchat algorithm have only intensified the conversation. If the social behemoth were to make such a change—the conventional wisdom goes—then user engagement would become more important than ever.
The truth is, it’s key for brands to consistently drive engagement on social, regardless of any algorithm changes. Whether or not Snapchat makes the jump, brands can always strengthen their Snapchat engagement strategies. It should be a priority no matter what.
To ensure your brand is equipped to generate engagement on Snapchat, regardless of whether or not it implements an algorithm, consider these three approaches: growing your influencer network, creating better content, and boosting ad spend.
Influencer marketing is an effective tactic across nearly all social platforms, and Snapchat is no exception. Since snaps disappear within 24 hours, it’s event more important for brands to partner with influencers to make sure their content reaches a wide audience.
One example of effective influencer marketing on Snapchat is Coca-Cola’s partnership with actor and influencer Cody Johns, where he takes over the Coca-Cola Snapchat account on special occasions. One of his recent takeovers was for a NASCAR race sponsored by Coca-Cola. Johns’s snaps cross-promoted the Coca-Cola brand in tandem with special events on his personal webpage.
Or take one of the top Snapchat influencers around, Shaun McBride (Snapchat username: “Shonduras”). McBride’s colorful illustrations and unique sense of humor have gained him over 140,000 followers—all this while employed as a snowboard sales rep in Ogden, Utah. Brands have started to take notice, and McBride has recently partnered with Taco Bell, Disney and Major League Soccer, among others.
What’s important is that McBride only partners with brands or products that he personally believes in. For example, McBride’s followers have known for some time that he is a huge lover of Cap’n Crunch cereal. So, when Cap’n Crunch partnered with McBride for a series of co-branded snaps, it felt natural to his audience.
Source: The Verge
With an algorithm, the flow of user content would be sorted by individual relevance, which can improve the experience for Snapchat users. On the downside, it would mean less organic reach for a brand’s individual account. One way to counter this effect is to build relationships with Snapchat influencers who can then create content that aligns with your product and brand, while at the same time amplifying your brand’s reach.
This may seem obvious, but it’s one of the best ways to prevent an algorithm from smothering your reach on social. Brands tend to use Snapchat for “behind the scenes” content, celebrity cross-promotion, and new product sneak peeks. Great branded Snapchat content feels like it truly belongs on the platform: it’s fun, quotidian, quirky, ad-hoc, and playful.
The recent “Adidas Originals” Snapchat campaign is an example of top-notch branded Snapchat content. The campaign gave a teaser of the company’s new Originals sportswear line, using preview snaps of upcoming sneaker and clothing designs during a special launch event. The content included first images of Adidas’ new “HU NMD” sneaker design, celebrity cameos and event-specific geofilters. At the same time, Adidas partnered with Pharrell Williams, allowing him to design his own line of Originals and create snaps during the launch event. The campaign really hit the mark because Pharrell’s behind-the-scene snaps connected with the “sporty teen” audience, which devours pop culture and values the immediate access of Snapchat over curated content of social media platforms like Instagram. Pharrell’s 128-second Snapchat story of the launch event garnered 3.4 million views in just over 24 hours. Moreover, 87 percent of those users watched the entire story.
If Snapchat releases an algorithm that is similar to the ones used by other top social platforms, it will probably reward content that receives a high level of engagement from users. This means that brands that master creating awesome Snapchat content that users love to interact with will be a step ahead of the game.
Let’s not beat around the bush: while algorithms are meant to improve the user experience on any given social platform, they also serve to encourage brands to invest in social advertising.
If the new algorithm is put into play, brands will need to boost their Snapchat ad spend in order to continue to reach a wide audience. Snapchat’s ad options include Vertical Video Views (3V), Geofliters, Age-Gating, and it’s curated content section called Discover. Snapchat recently lowered its pricing plans to allow more specific targeting options, and could introduce an open API for brands to start setting up their own campaigns.
One brand that’s winning on Snapchat’s Discover platform is CNN. CNN repurposes its web content into a daily series of engaging snaps that include colorful visuals, music, and a casual tone that appeals to a younger demographic. CNN execs have been tight-lipped about specific viewership figures on Discover. However, Meredith Artley (editor-in-chief at CNN Digital), recently gave Advertising Age some insight into CNN’s overall strategy on the platform:
“The first thing we were going for was the audience and the chance to curate and craft and edit stories in a new and interesting way for that audience on that platform. Then we’ll get the revenue later.”
Brands should keep in mind that if the algorithm is introduced, they’ll be forced to use ads to continue engaging audiences. But that’s not such a bad thing, as Snapchat’s current ad options like 3V and Discover are already ahead of the curve. Snapchat believes that content curation from select tastemakers is the best way to deliver quality content based on their algorithm, and brands will need to boost their ad spend to stay in the game.
We don’t know when (or if) Snapchat will implement an algorithm, but, since nearly all social platforms are moving in this direction, brands would be wise to brace themselves for the potential change. Getting branded content and snaps in front of the right people will only become more competitive. Successful brands will leverage influencers, create even higher quality content, and boost their ad spend in the right areas to prosper in the new environment.