Snapchat has 100 million daily users, who post a combined 9,000 snaps per second (Source: DMR). But can it help to amplify an event?
Amplifying NOT Marketing
This post will not tell you how to promote your event using Snapchat. There are plenty of informative posts out there exploring how to use Snapchat for marketing purposes, including using On-Demand Geofilters to allow Snapchatters to add branded filters to their posts whilst they are at your event.
In this post I will be looking specifically at how Snapchat can help to amplify the conversation around an event. This is tough, because in essence Snapchat is not designed to amplify messages beyond your existing group of contacts. It is a personal, time-limited sharing app. Posts (known as Snaps) are shared only with those who follow you, cannot be reposted by others, and disappear after they have been read. It is not an obvious ‘amplifying’ tool, like Twitter. But are event amplifiers missing a trick by disregarding Snapchat?
Here are a few ideas for how you could use the affordances of Snapchat to amplify your event:
Amplifying a Conversation with Snapchat
If you want to encourage networking and discussion via Snapchat, you need to get your audience connected to you and to each other. Your Snaps are only visible to people you are connected with on Snapchat, and you can’t share someone else’s Snap to amplify their reach, so encouraging your audience to connect with you and other attendees within the app is really important.
Use your Snapchat ghost code on your event literature and posters around the venue so people can scan it and immediately add your official Snapchat account. The ghost code works exactly like a QR code within the Snapchat app.
Encouraging your audience to connect with each other using Snapchat may take a bit more ingenuity. You could collect their usernames on registration and ask for permission to share these in a list, you could print ghost codes on delegate lanyards, or you could organise some form of scavenger hunt style activity as a social activity that includes challenges that encourage attendees to connect with others via various social media challenge in order to unlock clues.
Stimulate a Debate
Snapchat allows you to post a Story to your profile. This is a series of Snaps that, as a collection, last for 24 hours and can be viewed by any of your followers as many times as they want.
Here’s a quick overview of how to create a Story:
You could use your Story to pose challenges or provoke a debate with your Snapchat audience by constructing a starting argument. Followers can be invited to share their responses with you directly so you can compile their views and share them anonymously during a relevant session, or your can ask attendees to create their own Story if the topic demands a more complex response.
Use a Live Story
Live Stories (also known as ‘Our Story’) is a Snapchat feature that encourages users to submit Snaps to an event story, which allows anyone on Snapchat to explore the event from different perspectives. Again, this lasts for 24 hours, then it is gone.
This is potentially the most useful feature of Snapchat for event amplifiers, as it would allow users to collaborate on a multifaceted view of the event. For visually stimulating events, such as festivals or trade shows, this would be very simple. For standard conferences, you would need to be more imaginative to make this work. Strategies could include using the Live Story to explore one of the key topics of the conference, or using a ‘One Snap’ strategy so everyone is encouraged to share a snap sharing their main take away.
Whilst this sounds good, the reality is that Snapchat has not made it clear how you can set up a Live Story for your event. It seems to be limited to events of their choosing (often large scale, visually striking events like music festivals), and their staff are manually curating the Snaps that get included in the live event to give viewers the best quality experience. Allowing an event amplifier to set this up and manage/moderate submissions themselves would be a better alternative. Submissions are also limited to those who have turned on the geolocation function on their smartphone, and are in attendance at the event. Remote participants will not be able to contribute.
This feature has a lot of potential for event amplifiers, but it isn’t quite there yet.
Graphic Note Taking
One of the playful features of Snapchat is that is allows you to use filters, stickers, text and drawing tools to annotate your pictures and videos. These features may suit those inclined towards graphic note taking, and allow you to offer a different style of live commentary for the event.
Problems with Using Snapchat to Amplify Events
Amplifying Through Time
One of the key features of Snapchat is the time factor. Snaps only last a set amount of time, then they disappear forever. Whilst this makes the platform more addictive for its users, it also means that Snapchat really doesn’t help you to amplify your event through time to future audience members. It really is an ‘in the moment’ tool.
However, if you want to record your Snapchat content, you can save your own Snaps to the camera roll on your smartphone, and repurpose them using other platforms that will give you wider, more permanent exposure.
You can also screenshot your followers’ Snaps and save these for future use. Snapchat tries to notify users if someone has taken a screenshot of their Snap, but admits this feature doesn’t always work. However, it is considered poor etiquette to screenshot without asking permission, and if you intend to publish a screenshot of someone else’s Snap permission would be essential to avoid copyright infringement.
Metrics are a little sparse on Snapchat, but there are some analytics platforms appearing, such as Snaplytics, which are primarily aimed at marketers.
Snapchat will tell you the basics: how many followers you have, who viewed your story and so on. Richer metrics are available for those who use the On-Demand Geofilters feature, and for advertisers. There is no way of knowing how much your audience are chatting with each other about the event using the text chat feature of the app.
In the absence of a neatly presented, downloadable analytics report, you may want to record information throughout the event about how many Snaps your followers send to you, or ask for more qualitative feedback from attendees via your event feedback form.
As marketing professionals catch on to using Snapchat for promotional purposes, we could reasonably expect to see a better offering from Snapchat.
If your audience is keen on the platform – or willing to try something new – there are ways to use Snapchat to steer the conversation and encourage your audience to share their experiences/thoughts with their followers. However, Snapchat may be best suited to being the real, private backchannel space for discussion – away from the radar of the event organiser or amplifier. If you are willing to accept that you can’t measure every interaction, but are still prepared to encourage networking and discussion amongst your audience, then Snapchat could be a useful tool for your event.
Image Credit: Today’s Latte, Snapchat, by Yuko Honda (CC BY)