Snapchat Makes a Play for Influencers: What Brands Need to Know

— February 22, 2018

Influencer marketing is an increasingly significant part of any modern companies’ social media strategy. Brands partner with individuals, or influencers, who boast large and engaged audiences for their social media content. While some influencers are celebrities, many are simply everyday people who are admired for their humor, expertise, fashion sense, etc. — people, in short, who set trends just like cool kids in high school did. When trusted influencers use or advocate products, people tend to listen. A healthy influencer/brand arrangement can increase revenue for both the influencer and the brand.

If this is all old hat to you and you’re already familiar with the influencer world, you might associate influencers with Instagram more than any other platform. Statistics back that connection up. eMarketer reports that a whopping 78 percent of surveyed influencers in January 2018 identified Instagram as their top social media platform for collaborating with brands, while 16 percent chose personal blogs and the combined totals choosing Youtube, Facebook, or Pinterest was lower than 10 percent.

You might note a glaring omission from this list of platforms: Snapchat. Snapchat’s user base is not insignificant–it’s the preferred platform of 13-to-18-year olds, a digital generation whose purchasing power is only going to increase. Why aren’t more influencers enthusiastic about this platform?

In many respects, analytics are simply easier to carry out on Instagram. Owners of Instagram business pages, for example, can view data on how many impressions their organic posts received, viewer age, location, and gender, and hour-by-hour performance metrics. Access to comprehensive audience data, in turn, helps them fine-tune their content.

For influencers who prefer to keep non-business profiles, a huge suite of platforms and tools are available to help them gain analytic information. And when Instagram launched its popular Stories feature, essentially copying Snapchat, many influencers consolidated their efforts into Instagram’s higher-audience, higher-capability, and influencer-embracing platform.

Youtube, too, has shown influencers what platforms could be offering them, providing video monetization arrangements in which influencers share the ad profits generated by their content. In the name of prioritizing conversations among small groups who already know each other, Snapchat has largely neglected the influencer community.

But Snapchat is trying to turn that relationship around. Influencers, after all, aren’t just a marketing tool–they’re part of any robust social media ecosystem. In 2017, Snapchat started offering verified accounts to influencers and creators. Previously only available to celebrities, the accounts distinguish popular users from imposters and make their stories searchable.

Some accounts can even use exclusive filters. Official Stories are now viewable on the app’s “Discover” page, which means casual browsers can find new influencers while killing time on the app. Most recently, Snapchat has extended analytics capabilities to verified influencers. Influencers on Instagram have access to these analytics in-app only if they switch to a business profile, and some have expressed reluctance to do so, worrying that being perceived as a company rather than an individual will drive down engagement.

Verified and/or high-viewership Snapchat influencers, however, now have access to in-app analytics. Users can see how many views their Stories have reached over weeks, months, and years, the average amount of time each viewer spends on a Story, day-by-day trend comparisons, and age, gender, and other demographic statistics. Snapchat influencers will now know exactly who they’re reaching, and when their posts are most effective. This means they can tailor their content to better connect with their follower base.

What does this all mean for brands? Influencer marketing is powerfully analytics-driven. Snapchat’s new analytics tools mean influencers can share follower demographics with potential partner brands. Your company might have been hesitant to sink marketing money into Snapchat-based influencing because you had no way of knowing how many people saw those posts or who the people who saw them actually are.

But now Snapchat might become a feasible tool for influencing campaigns once again, as influencers can provide data on how the wider community interacts with their profile.

Of course, Snapchat’s long-term future remains to be seen. The platform had a disappointing third quarter in 2017, experiencing lower user growth and revenue than company leaders had hoped for, and some industry voices wondered if Snapchat would go the way of Vine, a now-defunct platform that struggled to woo influencers.

Influencers and brands alike don’t get much use out of a platform that lacks a large user base. But Snapchat’s Q4 profits turned out better than expected, boasting both high earnings and healthy user growth rate. If more influencers return to Snapchat, it could once again become a social platform worth brands’ attention.

Does your company do any Snapchat-based marketing?

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Author: George Beall

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