How Snapchat is changing the nature of content marketing

For years now marketers have preached the notion that content is king. Questions of how to increase customer engagement, how to remain relevant in a digital context and how to generate emotional connections with a brand all lead back to how well a marketer can master the art of crafting content.

However, even accepting all of the above, which brands and platforms come to mind when you think of content? Blogs? Reddit? YouTube? It’s unlikely that at the top of this list would be Snapchat, the app that threw all conventional rules of the game out of the window and caused a stir among younger generations when it launched in 2011.

Snapchat makes content?

Yet despite Snapchat not being a marketer’s first thought when it comes to content, this is in fact the platform’s most recent foray into new marketing avenues.

Yesterday it was reported by multiple news agencies that Snapchat and NBCUniversal, one of the USA’s biggest media conglomerates and home to DreamWorks, Universal Pictures and NBC Sports, have joined forces to produce original content.

AdWeek reported that the partnership would be ‘developing and producing original content in the form of scripted shows and other genres,’ and that in embarking on the venture ‘Snapchat is delving deeper into the world of original programming.’ The Drum points out that this programming will be ‘made-for-mobile’ and builds upon Snapchat’s early ventures into content creation, specifically with vertically-filmed shows like those featured on its Discover section recently.

With a studio based in California, other commentators like TechCrunch have highlighted the fact that ‘this is the biggest move Snap [Snapchat’s parent company] has made yet in terms of producing and investing in original content.’ The move is likely to allow more creative direction and autonomy of thought than simply teaming up with other content producers, thus representing a marked shift from Snapchat’s previous efforts. 

What does this mean for marketers? 

There is little doubt that Snapchat’s very existence has altered the way that marketers think about connecting with audiences, but this doesn’t mean they have done anything to respond to the changes. Heavily reliant on images, themselves fleeting and ephemeral (as London agency Olapic recently described it) and wildly popular with Generation Zs, brands will have to question how their strategy will hold up if this represents the future of marketing. Now that this pioneering platform has decided to break into creating its own content, shifting its role from a vehicle of other’s content to lord and master of original creations, brands will have to sit up and take note.  

One outlet likely to be quaking in its boots is TV. Still a popular medium among many marketers (the extent to which is only fully appreciated when John Lewis causes a frenzy every Christmas), Snapchat’s move into content poses a big threat to TV. The colossal amount of time, money and staff-energy that goes into producing one of Snapchat’s early shows is explored by AdAge, suggesting that ‘it takes about eight hours to produce, shoot and edit a single episode,’ the run time of which is approximately two minutes. This level of investment is such that few brands or TV channels will be able to match it on their own platforms, calling into question how long they can remain competitive if this is the content demanded by young generations.

Another implication for marketers more broadly is that the increasing pull power of Snapchat only further entrenches the notion of multi-platforming, in which customers are everywhere connected to multiple devices at any one time. The complications this creates for long-utilised marketing techniques like the marketing funnel and customer journey mapping are numerous and must be overcome if marketers are to keep pace with the rate of change. With Olapic reporting that Snapchat has 100 million daily active users, who in turn fuel 10 billion daily video views, marketers cannot afford to turn away from the vast opportunities that Snapchat can bring for spreading content to engaged users.

Although only time will tell if and in what ways the advent of Snapchat-produced content will affect more conventional forms of digital content, there is little doubt that marketers from all sectors will be watching closely to see how this partnership progresses.

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