JULY 20, 2017:
It feels like there hasn’t been a single week this year when Snapchat wasn’t in the news – from positive and negative reviews of its latest feature, Snap Maps, to its AR dancing hot dog taking over every corner of the Internet. Mostly, journalists seem unable to decide whether the platform is still a success or hurtling towards failure.
This month, media and marketing site, Digiday attributed this uncertainty to Snapchat’s ‘dicey’ relationship with influencers, based on reports in the LA Times back in 2016 that ‘several social stars have public expressed frustrations with Snapchat, saying the platform’s hard to work with and leaves them feeling neglected.’
Largely, this comes from comparisons with the way Instagram and YouTube help influencers use their platforms, and a general lack of recognition from Snapchat for the work creators do to increase its audiences.
Snapchat thinks differently. In the name of authenticity, it wants social stars to use the platform like its everyday users. After all, visibility is low: The lack of analytics has made it hard for some creators to work with brands, marketers can’t see who are the high drivers of engagement, and communities aren’t encouraged to grow around top-tier creators. It’s very much a place to connect with people you already love, rather than seek out new content.
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Agency executives say Snapchat does this at ‘some risk’. Dom Smales, chief executive and founder of Internet talent agency, Gleam (Zoella, Marcus Butler, Caspar Lee), said to The Drum: ‘I think there is a huge amount of potential to be realized.’
Others see Snapchat’s current misfortunes – plateaued user base, its unique Stories format stolen by other platforms – as even more reason for the app to turn to influencer-led marketing and monetize its community. To understand why it continues to resist this, we must look at its desired relationship with users through a rough and ready experience.
Snapchat’s vice president of content, Nick Bell explained: ‘It’s not about trying to capture that perfect sunset to see how many likes you receive… It’s more about removing the pressure that social media has created.’ This is something Snapchat does right, and probably why influencers aren’t about to turn their backs on the platform, even if it feels the company isn’t providing them with the warmest of welcomes.
So if you want to play into the hands of Snapchat as an influencer, you want to concentrate on the platform’s best features: Filters and Lenses entertain the audience in an easy and intuitive way, while the off-the-cuff nature of the app lends itself well to behind-the-scenes content, or to capture a live campaign. Perhaps it’s a case of if you can’t join them, beat them at their own game.
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