In Socialtrends

Many destinations are already achieving high engagement using image based social media tools such as Instagram but what about Snapchat?  Should destinations be taking more notice of it as a means of engaging with current and potential visitors?

Brands are already aware that in order to reach a variety of audiences, they need to be active on multiple social networks so perhaps Snapchat deserves some serious consideration.

Snapchat has made exceptional gains in the last couple of years. It's already a tool that many millennials use in every day communication but its appeal is beginning to spread to a wider demographic.  Snapchat can now boast a passionate and engaged audience of  over 100 million daily active snapchatters (predominantly 13 - 34 year olds) and more than 7 million video views every day.

So first a quick reminder of what Snapchat is.  It's a mobile messaging app that allows users to send photos and videos (known as Snaps) to a controlled audience which then self-destruct within 10 seconds of being viewed.  Captions can be added (up to 35 characters), pictures can be drawn on the screen with your finger and lens graphics can be overlaid. Followers are able to 'snap back' with their pics, comments or questions.

Snapchat is different to other social media channel because users don't have the ability to like, comment or share.  Also, users are more engaged because in order to view the snap, their finger must remain on their mobile screen, otherwise it will disappear.  You can see why it's been described as 'intamacy at scale'.

Introduced in 2013, the 'Snap Story' probably has the most potential for DMOs and is now Snapchat's most popular feature. Snap Stories are created by brands and users submit their snaps which can then be viewed by a larger audience (not just their friends) for up to 24 hours.  So destinations can build up their brand and followers by creating Snap Stories and invite users to upload photos and videos that act as as the narrative to a story. Snap Stories can be created for a specific event or for the destination in general and because the feeds are generated by tourists and locals in real time, they provide an authentic view of the destination which appeals to many visitors.

Some well known brands are already using Snapchat as a story-telling platform.  Marriott International was the first hospitality brand to use Snapchat as a centrepiece to an advertising campaign a year ago. They wanted to create awareness within the next generation of young travellers and tourists.

In November 2015, 100 million users had the opportunity to view Vancouver through the eyes of its snapchatters, following in the footsteps of other destinations such as New York, Barcelona, Berlin and Dubai.  Disneyland uses Snapchat to promote activities in their theme parks and has had success with games and getting audiences to participate.  For one of Instagram's most followed travel brands, Beautiful Destinations, the move to Snapchat was a natural progression.  The company now achieves an average of 40,000 views for each snap and also works with other complementary brands such as the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Food and Wine Magazine to produce content for their Instagram and Snapchat accounts.
Using the two social media channels makes sense too.  Travel brands can showcase aspects of their destinations on Instagram, adding calls to action to go and check out the story behind them on Snapchat.

And there's also location-based geofilters.  When the user takes a pic, they can swipe across the screen to communicate the 'where and when' to accompany their snap (as an overlay) before sending it to a friend or adding it to a story.  Artists and designers can submit their own and organisations can purchase on-demand geofilters for their events, destinations or specific locations within them. 

For example General Electric wanted to spread awareness among young people of how much the travel industry relies on their technology.  So they paid for a sponsored geofilter on Snapchat to target users in US airports and train stations.  Users who took pics in these locations were able to add the geofilter, which looked like a boarding pass, and for an interactive element, were able to write in their destination.  4.7 million people used the filter resulting in 63.5 million views.

Snapchat Tips:

  • Keep an eye on some of the big players on Snapchat for inspiration
  • Use your current social media networks as a starting point for acquiring followers
  • Make sure that you are creative and post content which is relevant and interesting to your audience
  • Think about the timing of posts - be strategic
  • Run competitions and play games to encourage people to snap back

We'll be keeping an eye on Snapchat over the coming months but for DMOs wanting to target a younger demographic of engaged users or seek to influence the visitors of tomorrow, it shouldn't be discounted.

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