Why Snapchat? Because they’ll open it

Get the attention and droids you're looking for (courtesy Stéfan at Flickr CC)
Get the attention and droids you’re looking for (courtesy Stéfan at Flickr CC)

I’m the last person to advocate chasing after shiny objects in social media.

My first answer to the question, “Should my destination/attraction/hotel be on _____?” is always:

“Is YOUR market there?”

That’s why I hadn’t been paying much attention to Snapchat, a messaging app that shares photos and short video (“Snaps”) that then disappear/self-destruct in 1-10 seconds. It seemed like something that preteens and teenagers use for sharing private pics with a smallish network of friends (instead of dealing with drama on Facebook or broadcasting to the world through Twitter) but where was the relevance to destination marketing?

Turns out that I’ve been doing the forest/trees thing: focusing too much on the individual platform and not thinking enough about the implications of why people are drawn to a social media tool and how that might speak to broader communications trends and issues.

The most precious thing you can earn and keep today is your visitor or guest’s attention, and even once you earn it if you don’t continue to bring value, entertainment and helpful customer service, you’ll be Unsubscribed, muted, Unliked, switched off, Unfollowed and ignored.

The power of a tool like Snapchat is the power of having someone’s attention.

A Snapchat Marketing Example

A few weeks ago, I was intrigued to hear Katie Tang’s presentation for the Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team during a social media summit for regional tourism partners that was arranged by Visit Philadelphia, about how the Eagles are using Snapchat.

One of the reasons Katie gave is that through it, they can get the attention of their fans because “When people get a snap, they open it.

What are the latest open and click-through rates for your marketing emails? How’s it going for your Facebook Page organic views and interaction these days?

With all the digital noise, who is really paying attention to whatever you’re blasting out there?

Katie and Linda Thomas from the Eagles front office were kind enough to answer a short follow-on email Q&A about their Snapchat work:

Q. How does Snapchat fit into your overall marketing strategy for the Eagles?

A. “We want to meet our fans where they are, so in order to do that, we’ve placed a major emphasis on producing unique content and interacting with people on a variety of different social platforms. If you limit yourselves to just your website or Facebook and Twitter, you’re missing opportunities to reach your fans.

Snapchat is a great way to reach the 14-28 year old demographic and its popularity is growing, so we saw that as an opportunity to have some fun with our fans.”

Q. What sort of messages do you send out about the team?

A. “Our first posts on Snapchat were a frame-by-frame release of a comic that Marvel produced for us about how SWOOP became our mascot. We post fun pictures on there of our players and we’ve even broken news on there of a player signing with the team.

We’re also about to launch what we’re calling ‘The 12 days of Eagles Snapchat,’ so keep an eye out for that.”

Q. How do you measure whether your Snapchat activity is helping you reach your marketing goals?

A. “Snapchat is a little different than Facebook, where you can measure the number of ‘likes’ you get on a post, or Twitter, where you can monitor retweets or favorites. With Snapchat, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the amount of our followers. [After] launching [on Snapchat] a few months ago, we had 200 fans in the first hour, 1,000 after five hours and 7,000 in the first week. Now we are up to 8,700. So we can’t necessarily measure the impact like we can when a video gets thousands of views on our website. But we can certainly see that it’s growing, and that’s exciting for us because we’re always looking for opportunities to engage with our fans.”

What’s In This For You?

If your market demographics line up with Snapchat’s users, then the same visual short stories you’re telling with Instagram or Vine might work on Snapchat IF it fits your overall marketing strategy AND you have the resources to devote to yet another publishing channel.

If Snapchat does not make sense right now for your market, how could you get more of the attention of your visitors and guests through the social media that you already use?

1)  On your blog, make more of an effort to encourage subscribers by email or RSS; don’t just wait for readers to fall from the sky via search engines.

2)  On Twitter, there are lots of ways to rise above the noise:

a)  Participate as your brand in Twitter chats and hashtags tied to your market. Travel enthusiasts hang out on hashtags like #TBEX, #TTOT and #FriFotos, for example, and in chats like #TravelSkills.

b)  Get sorted! When someone has my attention on Twitter and I don’t want to miss what they’re saying, I add them to a column that I’ve named “Key Tweeps” in my personal TweetDeck dashboard. Those are the people whose tweets I monitor; I don’t listen to everyone I follow, truthfully. A simple version of that on web-based Twitter is Twitter Lists – tell your followers about Lists and ask to be added to theirs.

c)  Do the one thing that I consistently see brands fail to do – ANSWER when someone tags you in a tweet with your @ brand name. That’s someone already giving you their attention, but I can’t tell you how often I take the time to hunt down some destination, attraction or hotel’s Twitter handle, put it into a tweet where I’m sharing a photo or other info, and they never tweet back. Answer the social media telephone when it rings!

3)  On LinkedIn, participate in Groups where your market spends their time. For convention/meeting services people at a CVB or DMO, that means go to the Groups where the meeting planners converse (and people who drive location decisions for meetings, like association executives.)

4)  On Facebook …. well, to be honest, the answer right now for getting attention on Facebook seems to be to pay them more money through sponsored posts and ads.

What are your thoughts about Snapchat and getting people’s attention? Let us know down in the Comments!

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About Sheila

I'm a writer, speaker and consultant specializing in tourism, travel and social media. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. NHRA drag racing fan. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.
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10 Responses to Why Snapchat? Because they’ll open it

  1. Good stuff Sheila. ;)

    Cannot agree enough with your strategy recommendation…is your market there? Have you asked your visitors? Talked with your peers? Have you downloaded Snapchat yourself and understand what the product is and is not.

    A little bit of research, please!

    One note on the Philadelphia Eagles example for our prospective DMO peers: consider the passion potential.

    I love the Eagles example, kudos to them, but there is a pretty substantial difference between my relationship with a favorite pro sports team and a destination I might visit this year…or maybe not…I haven’t really decided.

    The difference is passion.

    Eagles’ fans are Eagles’ fans all year, every year.

    Visitors to your destination? Not sure.

    Perhaps some research is in order.

    – Troy

    • Sheila says:

      Thanks, Troy. This is much more a post about not dismissing a tool like Snapchat outright for destination/hotel marketing than it is a presentation of DMO case studies or even “here’s how you can do it.”

      I’m still figuring it out myself – barely managed last night to send a photo of my cat to a longtime geek friend as we both bumbled around with the app. I was struck by how similar it felt to when I first started tweeting in late 2007; a lot of “what the hell am I doing?” moments. But that’s how you learn.

      Admittedly a pro sports team like the Eagles is not a destination marketing case study by any stretch, but it was the first time I’d ever personally encountered a brand using Snapchat so I thought I’d jump on the chance to learn more and share it.

      So far I’ve found some record labels also on Snapchat, other NFL football teams besides the Eagles (the Saints Snapped a pre-game huddle video,) a pro surfing tour, rapper Soulja Boy & Irish band Kodaline, a small college, “Seventeen” & “Popstar!” magazines, movies, fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, American Eagle Outfitters, adidas NEO, Juicy Couture and a AAA baseball team. Intriguing collection.

      Three tweets retweeted by the @Snapchat Twitter account that speak to the issue of attention and people using the app to get away from noise:

      ** “FINALLY my friends are using @Snapchat ! Takes me away from Facebook and it gets me closer and closer to my friends !!”

      ** “I know there are many dissenters out there, but @snapchat has made me so much closer to my friends”

      ** “RT @emjbanks: My informal survey of high school journalists at #converge13 #thinkJ revealed more students on @Snapchat than Facebook”

      Hmmmm.

      • Sure thing Sheila.

        I like the post and clearly this is a tactic that should be discussed.

        But as a strategist, I would look at those mentions of noise very carefully. Brands are not our friends, which is why Facebook is suddenly feeling very unfriendly.

        Consumers will pay attention to people or passions, but only interact with brands when they need something.

        Good conversation.

        – Troy

      • And no worries about the Eagles example, it is clear you are saying ‘look at this strategy’, not ‘copy this strategy’. ;)
        Troy Thompson´s last [post] ..A Call for Co-Creation

  2. Snapchat marketing, that is a new one for me! The only thing I’d say for that is that one would have to carefully choose what photos and snap videos to share, and have to constantly think of cool things to share, so it would take good planning on that side.

  3. We will poll our ETS attendees to identify a DMO or attraction that has used Snapchat in the next few weeks. If the goal is to reach the 14-28 year-old demographic I have a couple of thoughts.
    1. It is possible that 14-18 year olds have some influence on destinations for their families. It would appear that they may be interested in beach/sun destinations where they can be free from their families and meet others the same age. Perhaps a series of Snapchat videos for 5 ways to ditch your parents when your on vacation.
    2. Troy’s point about visitors lacking a scintilla of passion about a 90% of the destinations is true. However, locals, many of whom have a sense of civic pride, are the main target and they can share it with their friends outside the destination if it’s edgy enough.

    • Sheila says:

      Thanks, Jake, would love it if you’d drop back by and share eTourism Summit survey results – may be time for me to write a follow-up post on this topic.

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