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The Breakfast War's Hidden Battleground Is Snapchat
Posted on April 16th 2014
With McDonalds and Taco Bell duking it out across the web and television to be king of the breakfast hill, it is surprising about how few people are discussing the hidden battle: Snapchat. Much of the discussion so far has been focused on the commercial videos and the quick remarks on Twitter, but the hidden campaign might be the one gaining the most brand advocates' attention. With new social media apps being developed and updated daily for users and brands to use, it's hard to keep up with; but these two brands both realize the Snapchat space is where they could really engage their consumers. One of the big thrills about Snapchat has been the sense of unique yet instant communication that is ephemeral.
Pew Research estimates that the number of active users on Snapchat in the United States is 26 million, with approximately 400 million "snaps" being sent a day. Some might scoff that users have escaped to this new platform experience to get away from advertisers and older family members. You are wrong- at least about the first part. If a college student knows a brand, 73% of them would open a snap from that brand (according to Sumpto). Shoot, 45% would open a snap from a brand they didn't know. Sounds better than some click-through rates we see in email marketing, right?
Never knowing what the picture might be adds to the perceived thrill and curiosity of Snapchat. All I know is clever designs like the one to the right leave Cookie Monster and me hungry for Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. Imagine having an entire screen as an advertisement or brand relationship builder: those are tons of pixels you don't have to pay for in advertisement without anything else fighting for your audience's attention on the screen.
Taco Bell embraced the new media platform and was able to creatively tease their upcoming breakfast menu. Between photos of the items, to numbers to text for advanced information, Taco Bell has nearly sent out a story every single day leading up to the release of their new menu. They even asked for their viewers to send snaps of them with hand drawings of the new food. This unique exchange led to Taco Bell taking a screenshot of their favorites to feature on their stories for all to see. Fans were excited to see their artwork and likeness broadcast worldwide. In the end, Taco Bell thanked their viewers for counting down with them and announced "Breakfast is Here." Taco Bell's Snapchat presence always seems thought out and the stories make sense from start to finish. They even just made the first Snapchat film Sunday centered around their newest doritos locos taco and the MTV Movie Awards.
McDonald's original campaign during Late February into March was excellent. They built awareness of their choice to join Snapchat through existing platforms and released exclusive content to those who followed. This exclusive content led up to NBA star LeBron James advertising the release of McDonald's new Bacon Clubhouse (which probably won't sell well in Cleveland). However once Taco Bell released their Snapchat marketing campaign, it seems as if McDonald's has been on its toes responding. The most Ronald has done yet to combate the taco march on their land, is announce two weeks of free 12oz McCafe coffee. Adding to the current silent strangeness in regards to the breakfast menu challenger is how McDonald's campaign lost its structure. Random stories without any introduction have begun to pop up, such as Ross Mathews and Wendy Williams working the drive-thru last week. This past weekend McDonalds even took viewers behind the scenes to their pool party at Coachella they were throwing. The snap stories showed Juicy J performing and the crowd partying, but no introduction to what the viewer was about the witness. We were just dropped in on a situation, further digging online led me to information about this being a Coachella McDonald's & Corvette Stingray event.
Though both have had unique campaigns, it seems as if Taco Bell is winning the battle on the ephemeral picture front at the moment. For brands hoping to step into the Snapchat realm, here is a quick breakdown on the platform. There are two options on how to interact with people:
- Option 1 - Direct Snaps - Using this option allows users to take a photo and send it directly to another user. You can even choose multiple users to all receive the snap. All photos must be taken within the app- you can't choose from your phone's library. This makes the connection all the more unique with users because they know you took personal time with it instead of the expected generic response on Twitter. The trick to this is that no matter if it is a video recording or a picture, it lasts on the receivers' phone only 10 seconds from the time it is opened and is gone forever.
- Option 2 - Stories - Using this option allows users to take multiple photos/videos and add it to their story. Once a picture or video is put on a story it is there for the next 24 hours (don't worry, you can delete it if you have remorse later on in the day). All of your friends can view your story and can view it again as many times as they choose.
Using either option gives the ability to tell who has viewed your snaps. Option 1 is seen as more personal despite the ability to send it to multiple recipients. Option 2 allows marketing to a way larger group and the ability to add more to the story throughout the day. Some of the most interesting stories we have gotten to view come from Mashable, who shares their exploration of cities, events & art exhibits. They even surprised me with a picture of Animal from the Muppets one afternoon. Snapchat isn't difficult and it is cost-effective. If your brand is confused on potential content or strategies for using Snapchat, then here are a few for you to get creative with:
- Announce contests
- Give sneak peek of new products, events, people
- Send a coupon or discount code
- Offer behind the scenes looks
- Additional ideas from Adweek
- Previous Snapchat case studies
One of the main difficulties of Snapchat that should be taken into account is that discovering users on the application is difficult, so creating awareness on established platforms is necessary to pull in consumers. The editing capabilities are challenging because all you can do is add a few filters, a little text and some doodles (personal note: drawing isn't everyone's talent, especially those with big fingers on a small screen).
Finally, the biggest complaint of all comes down to Snapchat offering zero metrics: it is and isn't true. Though you can't track the traditional marketing metrics like click-through rate, cost per impression or target rating point, you can track the number of people who have viewed your snaps or see who has taken screenshots. The goal has to be about measuring different KPIs and creating authentic relationships with customers away from the generic blanket marketing that millennials are expecting today.
Here are just a few usernames of brands using Snapchat:
- Sports Teams:
- Saints (New Orleans Saints)
- Eagles (Philadelphia Eagles)
Are there any brands that you enjoy following on snapchat? Let me know!