Snapchat Storytellers Is the App’s New Way of Connecting Brands and Influencers

Creators can star in ads, produce them or provide creative direction

Samples of work from the initial group of Snapchat Storytellers. Georgio Bassil (Georgio Copter), Cyrene Quiamco (Cyreneq), Michael Platco/Snapchat
Headshot of David Cohen

Snapchat has teamed up with five creators and influencers on its Snapchat Storytellers pilot program, which is aimed at matching up interested brands with influencers in the hopes of creating engaging ad campaigns.

A Snap Inc. spokesperson said that with the program only being active for six business days thus far, he was not aware of any campaigns that were already active or agreements that had been reached.

Cyrene Quiamco, one of the first five Storytellers, added, “Since the program is new, we can’t disclose specific brands since the projects have not been completed and made public. But it is a wide range of brands, from small to larger brands. It’s like the branded ads range you see on Snapchat, expect now Storytellers are helping with making the ads.”

The idea for Snapchat Storytellers was initially proposed by influencer Shaun McBride at Snapchat’s first creator summit in May, with an eye toward driving revenue opportunities for creators on Snapchat, and he is joined in the initial group of Storytellers by Quiamco, Michael Platco, Geir Ove Pedersen and Georgio Bassil.

After all of the times when other social networks liberally “borrowed” ideas from Snapchat, the messaging app flipped the switch with its newest initiative.

Facebook introduced a similar initiative for its creators in June, Brand Collabs Manager, which enables brands to search creators and determine if any of them are partnership fits.

And Twitter has been in the game even longer, acquiring content creator community Niche in February 2015 with the same goals of connecting brands with creators. Unlike Snapchat Storytellers and Brand Collabs Manager, Niche works across all platforms, not just Twitter.

The Snap spokesperson said the main goal of Snapchat Storytellers is to help the messaging app’s creator community make connections with brands, as well as to help brands learn from the expertise of those creators.

Quiamco concurred, saying, “Snapchat is helping bring us brand work instead of us hustling to get our own brands. I’m excited to get this started. Things are moving pretty quickly.”

The first five Storytellers worked with Snapchat’s creative strategy and talent partnerships teams to craft the pilot program.

Snapchat said the creators were selected based on their unique creative approaches, their deep knowledge of the Snapchat platform and their high-profile presences, adding that when matched up with brands, they may star in ads themselves, produce ads or provide creative direction.

The Snap spokesperson said the focus will be on Snap Ads and longer-form Story ads, adding that the program is part of the package of creative partners that its salespeople can now pitch to brands that are seeking creative help.

Quiamco said some of that help may include putting lenses between videos, creating experiences and having brands’ audiences submit content, adding that she and the other Storytellers will not only create videos, but “experiences and consulting, whether they work with us directly or take our ideas to their internal creative teams.”

The messaging app’s role in the program is limited to making introductions between interested brands and creators, which work out details of their partnerships on their own, without Snapchat taking a cut of the action.

Quiamco stressed that Snapchat Storytellers strive to maintain authenticity, saying, “We’re not going to work with a brand that doesn’t fit our branding. We’re still influencers. Snapchat gave us full freedom. If it fits, then we work together. If it doesn’t, then we’ll try to match them up with another Snapchatter.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.