Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 29 2016

If You Want Younger Attendees, You Need To Pay Attention To Snapchat

David McMillin

What do ESPN, Amazon, Conde Nast and The New York Times have in common? They’re all using Snapchat, the rising social media platform that’s catching a big wave among the most coveted audience in the meetings industry: the 18 — 34 age bracket. So, if Snapchat is the playground for Millennials, surely meeting planners and marketers are using it, right? Very wrong. According to research from event software company Bizzabo, just three percent of organizations are using Snapchat to promote events. Instead, 81 percent of them are relying on Facebook, and 76 percent are counting on Twitter to help spread the word and create stronger communities.

Perhaps the reason for the sluggish adoption is that Snapchat doesn’t work like other social media platforms. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are built on adding posts and pictures to a user’s never-ending and always-updating news feed, Snapchat’s content is designed to disappear. When you post an image on Snapchat, it destructs after a very limited time. Depending on the context, the Snap may delete as soon as all the recipients have opened it, or if it’s posted to a user’s daily “My Story”, it vanishes after a 24-hour period.  One other big difference is that the service is mobile-only; you won’t be communicating on Snapchat in a desktop version. This all may sound counterintuitive to brands and businesses; if you’re designing digital material, shouldn’t it be searchable and accessible on as many screens as possible? Evan Spiegel, Founder and CEO of Snapchat, doesn’t think so.

“The fundamental premise of Snapchat is that it’s better and more fun if you delete everything except the things that are really important and you want to save,” Spiegel said in an interview at Disrupt SF 2013.

The data shows that plenty of people agree with Spiegel. As of May 2015, Snapchat had nearly 100 million daily active users, and all signs point to the company’s ability to maintain a very impressive trajectory that will make it one of the most used social media channels in the era of digital addiction. It’s currently valued at around $16 billion, and video consumption has tripled to nearly 6 million videos opened each day.

Snapchat Aims For Events

If all these figures have you worried that your marketing department hasn’t outlined a strategy for Snapchat, it’s okay. Snapchat has been a challenging field for many businesses. Unlike Facebook’s sophisticated Ads Manager, Snapchat’s initial design has connected with individuals who want to use funny filters and send messages to their friends. There have been fewer opportunities for brands with traditional advertising approaches to engage with the Snapchat community. The standard “Buy our product!” and “Register before the early bird deadline!” promotions that have become so commonplace in social media and email marketing won’t work on Snapchat.

While Snapchat wasn’t designed as an advertiser’s playground, it shares one very important trait with the rest of the tech world: it needs to make money. With that in mind, Snapchat recently launched a tool that will appeal to meeting planners: On-Demand Geofilters. Here’s how it works:

1)  You or your design team crafts a filter that matches your meeting or event. A filter can include fun and simple drawing and text that will lay over an image.

2)  Pick a time and location for your Geofilter. This is the tool that will be especially valuable for meeting planners. For example, you may be able to geofence the entire block of a convention center or a hotel convention space for the duration of your event.

3)  Submit the Geofilter for review, and pay. The good news is that these filters cost as little as $5. The cost can vary dramatically, though. Check out this Marketing Land comparison of prices in some popular locations.

If you’re like me, you’ll struggle with your first few Snapping steps. Don’t be afraid to fail, though. As more users take photos and videos, experiment with filters and explore content on the platform, this is one of the premier places to connect with the next generation of attendees. To get started, I recommend this infographic on effective brand communication on Snapchat and this interview with the company’s founder.

Have you used Snapchat at your meeting or event? If so, email me at dmcmillin@pcma.org. I’d love to hear your story and learn how you used the tool to engage your attendees.

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