The move to social media has allowed movie marketers to really push the tone and theme of their movie to expand its reach - but some have had greater success than others. How does Snapchat differ from it's competitors in marketing application?
Twitter has allowed movies such as Ted or Ted 2 to use their character’s distinctive voice to engage with customers. More family orientated films such as Finding Dory have used Facebook to great effect, posting shareable content from how to draw the character, to school-related images. Zoolander 2 reached 1 million followers on Instagram, and has set the standard for using the app as a means of media marketing. All these films have selected their focus based on their audience.
Here we come to Snapchat, the younger, cooler brother of Instagram and Twitter. Since its inception back in 2011, marketers have been keen to monopolize on the huge interaction levels. Snapchat has revolutionised messaging and selfies, allowing for filters, drawing and easy private messaging. The app has recently been valued at $18 billion after generating $59 million from ad revenue in only its third year of operation. It’s no longer simply used by teens, but has positioned itself well with the 20-30’s, although the drop-off beyond this age is huge; it’s estimated that only 14% of their users are over the age of 35, so it remains very much a youth marketing tool. Many marketers see it as the cherry on the cake of their marketing strategy when targeting Millennials or Generation Z. So what are the key benefits of Snapchat?
Brute numbers has always been important to channels, and Snapchat can boast 200 million users and 150 million active daily users, taking the four-year-old company above Twitter's 140 million daily users.
Snapchat allows a user to send once-viewable 10 second video clips or photos that can build into a larger story, which is available for 24 hours. This is especially important when we consider that a Facebook post’s active life span is 3 hours and a tweet’s lifespan is anything from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on follower numbers.
Therefore it’s perhaps unsurprising that Snapchat has been tantalizing for social media marketers. Unlike more fixed content, Snapchat makes users feel like they are in the moment and reading only the newest material. It’s clearly a visual format which lends itself seamlessly to movies and tv productions. Already Snapchat has been used to great effect but there are a string of different options available to marketers.
- Medium Level Influencers: This is becoming increasingly important as there have been discussions of creating an algorithm for Snapchat that, much like Facebook, will prevent news feeds being populated by ad content. Snapchat has a host of popular Vine and Youtube stars that have made the transition to their platform. These campaigns can be extremely effective; users have high trust levels and some estimates state that influencers on social media is twice as effective when compared with traditional marketing. When considering this it’s important to match the brand of a film to the brand of the influencer and give them a clear brief. However it’s also important to remember that these influencers are paid for their creativity and they will interact with their audience in their own style.
- Sponsored filters or Geofilters: Sponsored filters are face-morphing animations for selfies and Geofilters are text or images that users are able to access depending on location. These are good tools to generate some buzz during the premier of a show or a film festival however, as neither of these are permitted to be sales driven yet, their worth is not entirely clear. Creativity is king when it comes to filters, as engagement is the end goal.
- Paid-for Ads: Snapchat offer dedicated channels to media outlets such as Cosmopolitan, National Geographic and daily news publishers such as CNN. This has been a smart move as they are not solely reliant on consumers producing interesting content for each other. Here marketers can purchase full-screen ads or sponsored content through a media channel.
- Branded Discover Channel: For large events or movies, marketers can have a dedicated channel for 24 hours. There is still a degree of experimentation in this method, the general formula is a mix of interviews, behind the scenes moments, photos and use of the filters. However some movies such as X-Men Apocalypse used the channel to sell tickets to their audience. This again has shown the flexibility and experimentation taking place on the app, in the app being used as a direct sales platform.
- Creating your own channel: only an option for the large film franchises and distributors, this is essentially a longer-term version of the branded discovery channel. However a full-time channel requires lots of planning as your channel must constantly have new content. Great for sharing film shoots, press conferences and behind the scenes; audiences have typically responded very well to this sort of content. That said, creating your own channel for the release of a movie can be costly and difficult to reach new audiences, although it can be used to maximise appeal for your current audience and generate growth organically.
Suicide Squad, whilst receiving mixed reviews from the box office took Snapchat marketing to a new level. While having your own filter isn’t anything new, the movie looked to own Snapchat in the weeks running up to the launch. The movie used the discover channel to great effect, introducing individual characters and behind the scenes interviews. This was repeated when using Snapchat for the premiere of the movie and also appearing on MTV’s channel. The marketing strategy clearly outlined Snapchat as key to their target audience but also used other forms of social media to increase reach and drive audiences to the Snapchat page.
Be aware that there are no real share options for the paid-for or owned content on Snapchat: therefore reach will be a slow increase if used in isolation. Snapchat has to be coupled with external media channels and requires creativity to drive audiences. The app shows promise but in no way should be the lynchpin of a film marketing strategy. The app as a marketing tool is still in need of some changes; improved analytics, shareable feature and more sales-based options are just a few of the aspects that could benefit marketing. TV and film marketers shouldn’t shy away completely, however; creatives with an opportunity to experiment with lower marketing competition than on Facebook or Instagram. Marketers can feel confident that the numbers and interaction levels are there to justify the use of Snapchat particularly with film and content aimed at younger audiences.