Engag­ing cus­tomers and prospects on an emerg­ing social media plat­form can be a bit of a gam­ble not unlike prospect­ing. Brand par­tic­i­pa­tion requires a com­mit­ment of time and resources with an uncer­tain return. Take Sec­ond Life, for exam­ple, a vir­tual real­ity world launched in 2003 that got brand par­tic­i­pa­tion from house­hold names like Gen­eral Motors, Warner Broth­ers, and Adi­das in 2005 and 2006 with promis­ing engage­ment and no real return. Although if Facebook’s recent acqui­si­tion of Ocu­lus for $2 bil­lion is any indi­ca­tion, Sec­ond Life may get some renewed inter­est as a social net­work for vir­tual real­ity.

Like strik­ing oil, hav­ing a social cam­paign or com­mu­nity effort go viral can have a huge pay­out and requires both luck and skill. Oil drillers are not buy­ing a lot­tery ticket with every new well they dig, they are mak­ing an informed deci­sion based on what they know of the ter­rain and pre­vi­ous experience.

Another exam­ple of a new social media plat­form is Face­book. In 2007, the com­pany launched Face­book Pages and seeded 100,000 busi­nesses. The busi­nesses that were cho­sen had no way of know­ing for sure that the pages plat­form would be suc­cess­ful. The plat­form wasn’t rolled out for every­one until 2009, so for about two years, those fan pages got all the atten­tion with none of the com­pe­ti­tion. By Novem­ber of 2013, there were 25 mil­lion small busi­ness pages. Today, hav­ing a Face­book fan page is con­sid­ered one of the cor­ner­stones of a social media mar­ket­ing mix.

The com­pa­nies that got in on the ground floor and gam­bled that it would pay off were the ones that reaped the ben­e­fits of early suc­cess with more fol­low­ers and less com­pe­ti­tion. These kinds of oppor­tu­ni­ties are still around. I agree with the sen­ti­ment that you are not late! Remem­ber the early days of the Inter­net when any dot­com name was avail­able? Many peo­ple think back to 1994 nos­tal­gi­cally and fan­ta­size, “if only I had started mar­ket­ing on Inter­net plat­forms then.” Some­day, peo­ple are going to think the same thing of the year 2014, when things like ephemeral mes­sag­ing and mobile app mar­ket­ing were still rel­a­tively new.

Can you afford not to place a bet?

Bat­ter Up: Ephemeral Messaging

Ephemeral mes­sag­ing, with Snapchat as its poster child, is a new social media plat­form that is rapidly grow­ing and just start­ing to get atten­tion. In Decem­ber 2013, when Snapchat turned down a $3 bil­lion offer from Face­book to buy it out, there were 30 mil­lion Snapchat users. As of April 2014, there were closer to 70 mil­lion users. Snapchat took a cal­cu­lated risk in turn­ing down that offer and it seems to be pay­ing off, with the user growth con­tin­u­ing to accel­er­ate. From the last quar­ter of 2013 to through the first quar­ter of 2014, Snapchat’s user base grew 67 per­cent, while Facebook’s increased by 9 per­cent on its mobile app.

Snapchat users like it because it is infor­mal, easy, and fun. Brands can inter­act with those cus­tomers and prospects in the same man­ner. Snapchat users sign up to receive mes­sages from a brand. This is a fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent type of inter­ac­tion ver­sus pas­sively see­ing an ad or pro­mo­tion based on demo­graph­ics and a social graph.

How 16 Han­dles Han­dled Snapchat

One of the first com­pa­nies to use Snapchat for a cam­paign was New York-based yogurt shop 16 Han­dles. The com­pany ini­tially announced the cam­paign on Twit­ter and explained the rules. First, a cus­tomer sends a pic­ture of him or her­self tast­ing the yogurt at a 16 Han­dles loca­tion. Then 16 Han­dles responds with a coupon on Snapchat for any­where from 16 to 100 per­cent off. The cus­tomer opens the coupon at the reg­is­ter with 10 sec­onds to use it, only then find­ing out the amount. After the cam­paign, 16 Han­dles reported receiv­ing 1,400 new inter­ac­tions from customers.

Audi Focuses on Millennials

Audi is another com­pany that cre­ated a suc­cess­ful Snapchat cam­paign. Audi has always been pretty vocal about try­ing to reach a younger demo­graphic in order to keep grow­ing its con­sumer base. The com­pany has done every­thing from cre­at­ing young, hip par­ties with craft beer and elec­tronic music, to part­ner­ing with Justin Tim­ber­lake for a series of Inter­net movies. With its goal of becom­ing the sta­tus sym­bol car for young, hip urban dwellers, Audi turned to Snapchat, which boasts a demo­graphic of 70 per­cent of users under age 25.

Audi used Super­bowl Sun­day to gain an audi­ence. Dur­ing the game, the com­pany sent out pho­tos with clever cap­tions, com­ment­ing on parts of the game and wel­com­ing its fol­low­ers to par­tic­i­pate. This helped it stand out from the com­pa­nies using stan­dard real-time Twit­ter cam­paigns. As a result, Audi saw an increase in engage­ment across all its plat­forms. Many fans shared their pri­vate Snaps pub­licly on Face­book and Twit­ter. Some went as far as to men­tion that Audi’s Snaps were the best part of the game. As a result, Audi’s Twit­ter fan base grew by 2,500 and the com­pany gained 9,000 new fans for its Face­book pages.

Ephemeral mes­sag­ing can be an impor­tant part of your social media mix, dri­ving engage­ment across mul­ti­ple social net­works. 16 Han­dles announced its ephemeral mes­sag­ing cam­paign on Face­book and Twit­ter and then used Snapchat to run it. Audi encour­aged fans to share their Snaps on Twit­ter and Face­book, which they did, ampli­fy­ing the company’s message.

Why Get­ting in on the Ground Floor Works

When Face­book started with busi­ness pages, the com­pa­nies who par­tic­i­pated first got the largest fol­low­ings and value. Seven years later, hav­ing a sim­i­lar impact is much harder and more costly. Today, Face­book is a mature mar­ket, like any other, ruled by sup­ply and demand. The sup­ply of con­tent has exploded as this plat­form has matured, but people’s atten­tion hasn’t, so Face­book tweaks the algo­rithm to pro­vide the best expe­ri­ence for its customers.

Brands have to con­tinue to work get their mes­sage in front of prospects and cus­tomers even after they become fol­low­ers. Face­book has stated it expects organic dis­tri­b­u­tion of an indi­vid­ual page’s posts to grad­u­ally decline over time and for fan acqui­si­tion to pro­vide value as a way to improve adver­tis­ing effectiveness.

Although work­ing with a new social plat­form is a gam­ble, it’s a cal­cu­lated one when you’re deal­ing with plat­forms like Snapchat. Ephemeral mes­sag­ing is full of active users and lit­tle brand pres­ence. It’s impor­tant for brands to start par­tic­i­pat­ing now and work­ing it into to their social mar­ket­ing mix to cap­ture the atten­tion of this new audience.

1 comments
jeromee
jeromee

Nice one..Thanks for sharing this....