How Major Brands Are Making an Impression on Snapchat

By Nancy Lazarus Comment

Snapchat WSJ Logo“Live stories break the isolation one feels when using other media,” said Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s CEO and co-founder. He spoke earlier this month at American Magazine Media’s AMMC conference about the rationale for launching Snapchat Discover, its new storytelling feature. The social network partnered with 20 media brands to expand Snapchat’s content beyond their trademark disappearing photos.

Media and other early adopter Snapchat brands, including The Wall Street Journal, MTV and American Airlines, recently participated in Social Media Week in New York to discuss their efforts on the platform. Below are 8 ways Snapchat can help your brand:

1. It helps maintain a brand’s essence

Spiegel reported that companies’ biggest challenge was their desire to change a brand to appeal to millennials, but that’s not what he recommends.

WSJ launched on Snapchat Discover in January. Executive emerging media editor Carla Zanoni said, “It’s a misunderstanding that young people aren’t interested in smart reporting. Figuring out our voice for Snapchat has been interesting. We know who we are, we’re owning it, and we’re going full in.”

Sarah Epler, MTV’s senior director of social media and fan engagement, said they make their social and Snapchat posts not seem like a brand, allowing them more freedom of content.

2. It appeals to a younger audience

Snapchat’s core demographic skews younger, and the largest user groups are 18-24 year olds. Aaron Wolfe, American Airlines’ social media specialist, said that on Snapchat the brand talks to consumers that they’re not reaching with other social channels.

To demystify Snapchat for older users, WSJ published a guide to using the platform. That’s been their most popular story to date, according to Zanoni.

Snapchat American Airlines Logo3. Brands should use separate Snapchat accounts differently

Media brand partners utilizing Snapchat Discover often separate their brand and Discover accounts, posting different content to each. Epler said MTV’s brand account is about access to celebrities, and their Discover account is more akin to a digital magazine.

For WSJ, the brand channel generally has a lighter touch, Zanoni said. They’re investing in building a relationship with the audience as they grow. On the Discover platform they provide content on weekdays and their staff includes motion graphics designers.

4. Entertainment/humor goes a long way 

“American Airlines tells brand stories in fun ways,” Wolfe said. “I think about what my friends would want to see. Topics could include destinations or awards shows, like the BAFTAs in London.” For Travel Tuesday he planned to post about his visit to Bryant Park’s skating rink.

MTV focuses on pop culture, and it may use vetted social talent, Epler said. “Our audience on Snapchat likes to go everywhere. So we may do a takeover of Fashion Week, or the red carpet for the VMA awards.” MTV often uses sequential ‘you are there’ photos, she added.

5. Snapchat helps you deliver news with a twist

WSJ is all in on election coverage, Zanoni noted. On Snapchat they may go behind the scenes and show the tape marks on the debate stage before the presidential candidates appear.

To talk about American Airlines’ growth in Los Angeles, the company held a press conference and partnered with the Hollywood Bowl. It used the LA Clipper girls and integrated key business messages, explained Wolfe.

Snapchat MTV Logo6. You can monitor audience feedback

The MTV audience is quite vocal, Epler pointed out. “They tell us what they like and don’t like about our Snapchat content, and often react on Twitter. They also call us out if we’re too promotional and not organic. We ask our Snapchat users what they want to see and sometimes repurpose content between platforms when it’s appropriate.”

WSJ is taking a more holistic view of social listening and conversations, and with Discover they receive more robust metrics, according to Zanoni.

Per Wolfe, American Airlines leverages Snapchat for storytelling, not customer service. They use Twitter to answers those queries. He said they don’t track Snapchat numbers yet.

7. Snapchat is a word of mouth platform

WSJ’s guide to using Snapchat was also a way to convince top decision makers about the platform’s value, noted Zanoni.

“There’s an aspect of no control on Snapchat, and upper management is iffy,” Wolfe said. But he added there’s a also competitive element. When senior managers’ kids tell them about new Snapchat features the other airlines use, their parents want to ensure American has them too.

8. You should involve other employees

Some brands have expanded their internal staff involvement on Snapchat. At MTV, Epler said they sent Snapchats from their office on the topic of horrendous pickup lines, but haven’t featured individual employees.

WSJ has enlisted its editorial team and different reporters have become the faces of the Snapchat channel, Zanoni said. “We had reporters following the Pope on his Latin American trip. We want to allow them to come from behind their bylines.”