About two years ago, New York-based fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff began using Snapchat, a then largely unknown mobile photo-messaging app, to give their audience a sneak peek at its spring 2014 collection. Using a platform in which posts cannot be shared beyond their recipients, cannot be commented on, and last no more than 24 hours before completely disappearing gave Rebecca Minkoff and other early adopters a unique air of exclusivity.
Rebecca Minkoff isn’t just a style trendsetter; the brand was one of the first to adopt Snapchat as a marketing platform as well. The app has since become the latest platform to become popular with the often choosy fashionista crowd. Snapchatting was the social medium du jour at the Fall/Winter 2015 fashion shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Valentino even gave its Snapchat followers a coveted sneak peak of Zoolander 2 stars Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller before their celebrated turns on the runway. Stella McCartney joined in on the trend too, sharing behind-the-scenes footage of the models practicing on the catwalk before her show.
“Snapchat allows you to experience something that feels exclusive and inaccessible in a really accessible way," says Neha Gandhi, Vice President of Editorial Strategy, Refinery29. "We started with insider looks of what is happening at Refinery29–a snap from a photo shoot or something funny that showed up at the office. Initially, we were experimenting a lot: it disappears after 24 hours, so you sort of get a clean slate and can do anything you think is working and resonating with your audience.”
Among the fashion-conscious demographic, exclusivity is key. When using Snapchat, users take photos and post them right away, leaving no time for editing. The sense of immediacy associated with this makes users feel like they are experiencing unique, exclusive content the masses on Facebook and Instagram don’t have access to. In a business where trends change on a dime, yesterday’s news isn’t relevant.
“We use Snapchat for instant real-time moments," says Anne Sachs, Executive Director of Digital for Glamour Magazine. "Rosie Assoulin is a designer we love here and I loved that we could take a quick Snapchat [of her work recently] and put on an emoji or some line drawing and point out exactly what we like [about it]. It’s almost like an immediate conversation with your followers and you can say to them very quickly in shorthand, ‘This is the look and this is why we love it.’”
Of course, Snapchat appeals to many other industries besides fashion. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) proves that a little Snapchat savvy can go a long way. Instead of just sharing pictures of more than 120,000 art works that call the museum home, LACMA annotates the works with funny quips inspired by Internet memes. Alluding to everything from teen favorite Mean Girls to Beyonce lyrics, LACMA proves that everything old can be made relevant for a younger generation.
UNICEF has taken a more serious approach to getting their followers involved on Snapchat by sharing images that raise awareness of the plight of 800,000 children who have been forced to leave their Nigerian homes because of ongoing conflict between Boko Haram and military forces. UNICEF is using Snapchat as an engaging way to get people invested in the first-person accounts of life in the midst of conflict. Snapchat helps UNICEF encourage users to contribute to this ongoing narrative by sharing photos or videos of what they’d miss if they were forced to leave their homes. This new method of spreading awareness is a smart strategy for reaching the younger generation, who–while highly socially conscious–are less likely to take the initiative to investigate the full story themselves via traditional news outlets.
Looking for more on Snapchat and its importance to marketers? My firm, Firebrand Group, has put together one of our "Orange Papers" focused on the topic. It covers Snapchat 101, Snapchat best practices, and case studies you can follow to better connect with Snapchat's rapidly growing user base. You can access it here.