How-to app Snapguide debuted an iPad version today as it inches closer to rolling out opportunities for brands. The strategy of having marketers first use the service as regular users echoes the early approaches of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. The latter social scrapbooking app, in fact, may be Snapguide’s foremost competition. The reverse may also be true.
Pinterest has users pin images into topical pinboards that can be shared, but anecdotes abound about first-time users having a hard time figuring out what to pin and why. Eventually examples like planning a wedding or decorating a house permeated Pinterest, giving users a better idea of what to do. Snapguide lacks that functional latency.
When users fire up the iPad app (or the iPhone or site versions), they’re shown guides other users have created. In the iPad app, users can click the “Featured” dropdown to check out their user profile; featured guides; guides grouped by topics like automotive, food and style; popular guides; recent guides; what people they’re connected to on Snapguide are doing; who they might know on Snapguide; and create a guide.
Like Pinterest or Tumblr, content creation is the crux. To that end, when users click to create a guide, they’re taken to a title screen that's prepopulated with the words “How to” with suggestions on what kind of guide to create, such as “cook,” “install” and “use.” For example, a user can decide to create a “How to make a cake” guide and then add supplies like “flour” and “frosting.” After that, the user can take photos or video at each step while making the cake and annotates each step. That’s it. Users can publish their guides to the app and share them to Facebook, Twitter, via email or by copying a link.
Don Q Rum and Serendipity Photography are among the brands that have created guides, but Snapguide founder and CEO Daniel Raffel is planning more brand-friendly tools and even sponsorships. Like most startup execs, Raffel doesn’t want to litter the app with banners. “The guide is the ad,” he said.
As an example, KitchenAid could create a cake-making guide that uses KitchenAid products and features them in the how-to photos, and Raffel said an icon could be attached to the photos that would take users to a featured product’s landing page on KitchenAid’s e-commerce site. Jell-O accrued popularity and sales only after its creators compiled a cookbook offered to consumers for free as a way to help them understand the product’s uses. Asked whether Snapguide could serve a similar function for brands as Jell-O’s cookbook, Raffel agreed.
Raffel has been meeting with ad agencies “at least once a week” as he compiles the brand platform, but it’s not only brand marketers he has in mind. A few times while demoing the iPad app for Adweek, Raffel pointed out how its design was like a magazine. Other content properties like mobile news reader app Flipboard and tech site The Verge also have magazine-y designs, but Snapguide’s adoption isn’t just for aesthetic appeal. Raffel wants to partner with magazine publishers so that a magazine like Wired could hypothetically create a guide to building a robot that links back to an article on robotics.
A danger for Snapguide could be Pinterest recognizing the how-to strategy’s potential and building out the same functionality for its platform. Raffel even cited how-to magazine Real Simple as one of the first brands on Pinterest and described their pinboards as “how-to content.” But Snapguide and Pinterest don’t necessarily need to become rivals. Earlier this year the two companies teamed up to make Snapguide the first Apple app to integrate with Pinterest, letting users share their guides to the social scrapbooking site. For a time that made Pinterest Snapguide’ largest traffic driver; it’s now second behind search, which “dwarfs” Pinterest as a referrer, Raffel said. Given the ties between the two companies and the potential overlap in their products, would Snapguide sell to Pinterest? Raffel dismissed the idea, stressing that his “goal is to build something substantially large.”
“We’re trying to build a place where people share experiential knowledge—how-to content—with others to inspire people to learn new things and share what they're passionate about. We believe that there’s a business opportunity here to monetize that content,” Raffel said.