Influencer Marketing for Snapchat: An Interview with Branden Harvey
Just like YouTube and Instagram have provided a platform for digital stars aka influencers to blossom, so too has Snapchat. But what do these influencer marketing campaigns look like and what are some creative ways to utilize the platform?
We went straight to early-adopter and Snapchat influencer, Branden Harvey to get the goods on this unique platform, how he uses it to help brands grow, PLUS some tips on how to run successful Snapchat campaigns.
But before jumping into the interview (and the unknown depths of Snapchat), let me give you a quick overview of the platform and working with Snapchat influencers, just in case you're a lost soul.
Let's get real here:
As if influencer marketing isn’t enough of a tangled web already, Snapchat came along and confused the heck out of everyone over the age of 25. This newer social platform attracts the likes of Millennials between the ages of 15 and 25. If this is your demographic, you need to be on here. Like yesterday.
Millennials are moving away from Facebook for various reasons but one important factor is that they're tired of being marketed to 24/7 (aren't we all?!). Meanwhile, the grounds for Snapchat are so new and brands have yet to dilute the space with too many marketing messages. This gives them the opportunity to step back, reevaluate their approach, and find relatable ways to engage on Snapchat. Many brands are still missing the mark though and aren’t creating content that’s geared toward that younger audience. Either that or they're avoiding the channel all together because they don't understand it. Fair enough. It's not exactly straightforward for a regular user, let alone a marketer who needs to figure out how to leverage it. Both parties often give up pretty quick.
What's more, it’s difficult to see the value in a social channel that can only be measured manually or with the help of supporting channels. Plus, it can only hold an audience captive for 24 hours before the Snaps disappear for good. But it's important to point out that the majority of engagement on Facebook posts happens within the first two hours of going live. Things get pretty stale for most brands after that.
According to Shaun McBride, the author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, “A lot of people think that since Snapchat content disappears, it’s not valuable. He says that’s not the case. On many social media platforms, viewers scroll through content quickly. And even though those posts will be there forever, viewers will never see it again. Marketers are only grasping for 50% of users’ attention at a time, and those users never look back. Snapchat users can’t look back. However, marketers have 100% of their audience’s attention for the length of the content’s life.”
The very thing that makes Snapchat so unique - its transience - is also the thing that makes it so difficult to leverage and measure. One of the only obvious ways to tell how you’re doing on the platform is to see how many times your Snap was viewed, by who, and if a screenshot was taken and shared across other platforms. Is this lack of measurement holding back a lot of brands from really digging in?
Snapchat lets users share photos or 10 second video clips privately with friends OR publicly for 24 hours before the messages disappear for good. And that elusive nature of the platform is the very reason why Millennials are signing up faster than the speed of lightening. Sharing and receiving privately and for limited periods of time is far more attractive because people can be in the moment without taking themselves too seriously. They know their Snaps will disappear, so there’s no need to perfectly curate things like we do on Instagram. Nor is there a need to look as sexy as Kim Kardashian did in her most recent Instagram photo.
Getting into costs of Snapchat campaigns is another story. Brands can expect to pay up to $1000 per Snap, depending on the influencer they’re partnering up with, and the campaign at hand. Of course, there are also the smaller or magic middle influencers that will work with you on a far smaller budget. Since it’s new ground, there’s plenty of room to work out a fair price based on the campaign you’re running and the ROI the influencer can likely deliver. You just have to go super-targeted with your influencer selection and keep relevancy top of mind when you’re building these campaigns.
Branden, tell us about yourself.
I’m a photographer that likes to share stories of hope, justice, and joy across the globe. My mediums for sharing are Snapchat and Instagram.
How did you become a Snapchat influencer?
Snapchat is very much built for storytelling, so I just committed to making one story every single day for the foreseeable future. When you do anything every single day and make it public it builds an audience. All the content I’m creating is very focused on in-the-moment stuff, which I think my fans really relate to.
Tell us about a Snapchat campaign that you were really passionate about.
I recently did a campaign with UNICEF and it was the perfect fit for me because I’m really passionate about what they’re doing. The idea of their campaign was to draw awareness to the fact that over 1 million people have been displaced from their homes in central Africa due to armed conflict...and over 400,000 of them are children. These kids are fleeing and ending up in refugee camps in different countries far away from their homes. The goal of the campaign was to create conversation and raise awareness on Snapchat in a way that would appeal to a younger generation.
Since these kids are being packed into camps, UNICEF was getting them to draw things that they miss most about home. UNICEF sent me these drawings and the concept was to humanize them and share their stories. I did this through a Snap and related it back to what I love most about my own home. I had this great memory of how I left this kid’s sleepover to go back home, so I shared that with my audience and then tied the whole thing back to the fact that these kids don’t have the option to go home like I did. I had a call to action to have people draw what they love most about their home and tweet or Instagram it with the hashtag, #bringbackourchildhood. Bringing it onto supporting channels allowed UNICEF to better track the campaign. The other call to action was to follow Unicef on Snapchat, allowing them to carry promotion on from their end.
My biggest challenge with this campaign was to translate such an emotioanl message into something that’s hopeful and something that doesn’t bum people out!
I tried to make this Snap personal because Snapchat is such a personal platform. If I can share a little bit about me, then my audience feels like they’re getting to know me better and this important cause. In fact, I try to make all of my Snaps as personal and authentic as possible, while keeping people engaged. For this campaign, it was just me in my house monologuing.
Have you done a Snapchat campaign where the focus was on the brand's account instead of yours?
ABC Family recently hired me to create content on a weekly basis for this brand new show called Stitchers. Every week, they had me watch the new episode in advance and create content around it on the Stitchers Snapchat account...kind of like a takeover style. The premise was to watch my reactions to the show and hopefully get people to engage on a deeper level before and during commercial breaks. Since the show airs right after Pretty Little Liars, we would also try and leverage their massive following on Snapchat to remind followers that Stitchers was on next.
Since ABC Family targets a similar audience as the Snapchat users, the idea was to engage people where they are at and, subsequently, grow the show viewership. Instead of creating the content on my own Snapchat account, the idea was to populate theirs with high quality content. Their thought process was like, if Branden is really good at creating Snapchat content, why not have him do it?
We had a lot of calls to action within each Snap. For example, we’d tell everyone to take screenshots of some of the Snaps and tweet them out or show us their reaction to what happened on the show that night. This call to action ignited a lot of UGC on Twitter and Instagram and created a ton of engagement for the show.
Tell us about a campaign where you got to add your own 'Branden flare' to it.
I was hired by Paramount to promote Mission Impossible 5. That was a lot of fun because I got to run around and do really goofy stunts for my fans. Mission Impossible only recently launched their Snapchat account, MissionMovie, and they wanted to drive awareness to it. On my own Snapchat, they had me mention that I’d seen a behind the scenes feature on their Snapchat account. The rest of the Snap was me running around doing goofy stunts and letting my fans know that Tom Cruise does some really crazy stunts in the movie. The idea was to create a subtle movie tie-in and then create fan engagement. I asked my fans to send me their own stunts and I probably received over 10,000 Snaps. In fact, I received so many Snaps, it caused my phone to shut down several times.
This was a super fun campaign because it was so engaging and got people really excited for the movie. The best part was that it was so subtle. I didn’t ask anyone to go watch the movie or follow their Snapchat account. I just let them know that I saw this clip and created content around it...and now my fans could create content around it too.
Any advice for tracking the results of Snapchat campaigns?
I set a reminder in my phone before all the Snaps are going to expire and then take screenshots of all the views those stories received. I also take note of how many screenshots each Snap received. Keeping track of responses manually actually becomes very difficult when you have tons of followers. Snapchat isn’t really built for influencer tracking yet. After you get 50 Snaps, Snapchat automatically deletes things older than that.
What advice can you give to brands getting started with Snapchat influencers?
Partnering up with an influencer is one of the most effective things you can do. Find an influencer who fits what you’re trying to do. Have them walk you through the process of creating campaigns and content and utilize their audience to build your own. With Instagram, you have to publish a lot of content before you see follower growth and your followers can always go back and look at your old content...but with Snaps, they disappear after 24 hours. This means you have to start Snapchat with a bang!
QR codes for Snapchat are a great way to grow your audience.
Drive attention, be consistent.
You have to post Snapchat content consistently otherwise people aren’t going to be thinking about you. And people should know what kind of content to expect from you.
Have fun with Snapchat and don’t make things perfect. I try to have at least one imperfection in all of my Snapchat stories, like me getting cut off, stumbling on words, bad lighting, something where people can relate and see that my content is authentic and genuine. Your Snaps shouldn’t feel super crazy planned. In fact, Snapchat is the poster child for imperfection. People go on Snapchat so they can be imperfect. Whereas on Instagram we have perfectly curated accounts, people go on Snapchat because they can send duck face selfies to all of their friends. They know they can have fun with it because it’s going to disappear in 24 hours. To sum that up, brands should be doing whatever the equivalent of a duck face selfie is for their own brand..because people are going to resonate with it and be excited about it.
And lastly, who are your favourite Snapchatters to follow?
My favorites are Mike Platco (@mplatco)..he has a great Snapchat account to follow. I love Maia and Alex Shibutani (@shibsibs), they are figure skaters and also do an amazing job with their social media. I also like to follow Kid President (@bradmontague) and Casey Neistat (@casetneistat).
I can think of 50 people max that I could refer out for Snapchat campaigns. That’s a really small pool to draw from, considering the number of brands that exist today. Many people still don’t understand Snapchat, so it’s difficult for them to be creating engaging content on a regular basis.
Strive for the awesomeness that Branden exudes with his amazing knack for Snapchat storytelling.
Branden has been listed as a top Snapchatter on numerous sites and has hundreds of thousands of followers to prove just how awesome he is. But you may be wondering...what sets him apart from the rest? Well, as Branden told us himself, “I’ve always been a huge fan of telling stories." And because he's so darn good at it, he gets to travel the world, meet interesting people, go to really cool places, and share it all with his fans through pictures, videos, and Snapchat stories. On his most recent adventure, he traveled to the White House as part of Instagram’s 11th World Wide Instameet, where they hosted just 20 lucky Instagram influencers. Branden decided to take things a step further though and produce the very first Snapchat from inside the Whitehouse. How cool is that?
Snapchat storytelling is unlike any other medium because it's more raw and unscripted, which is in stark contrast to the posed nature of Instagram. The ephemeral nature of a Snap is alluring to Millennials and once you watch a few Snaps, you'll see why it's so compelling. It allows you to get creative. And as Branden demonstrates with his Whitehouse story, Snapchat has very diverse use cases and is so effective at communicating so many different types of messages.
He covered a lot of scenes in his Whitehouse Snaps. So many different rooms...each room or scene had a funny caption or emoji overlayed or quirky jokes that bring the reader into his world.
Green room? More like Groovy room!
First pantsuit portrait in the White House. (referring to the portrait of Hillary)
This woman wasn’t actually a First Lady. She was more like the Beyoncé of the 1800’s.
And the end of the video was marked with a very apropos row of hysterical emoji's.
Each of his Whitehouse Snaps were so fun to watch. He was just having fun, doing his own thing. There were even a few seconds of him just spinning around in a room aka the #PresidentialSpin.
This is just one example to illustrate how creative you really can get with Snapchat. After all, if the Whitehouse can do it, why can't you?! But the most important thing is to choose influencers that have a gift for storytelling, like Branden. Give that Snapchatter creative control of the video and direction because they know their audience best.
And if you're doing the Snaps on your own channel, they can be a super creative way for you to show the more human side of your brand. Your customers will love you for it.
So there you have it. A few really great ways to get started with Snapchat, whether it's on your own channel or through an influencer. And in case you need more help, we've compiled our top ten tips and this neat infographic so you can get the most out of your Snapchat influencer marketing campaigns, pronto. There's even an embed code if you'd like to share it on your own website or blog, so head on over there to see it for yourself!
Do you use Snapchat? What are your thoughts on using it for brand campaigns? Let us know in the comments!
A tremendous thank you to Branden Harvey for taking the time for this interview.