A little yellow ghost and a vibrant yellow backdrop has more than a few interested. Snapchat seems like just another social media platform that every online marketing mogul is telling you to join. But, there are a few valid reasons you may want to think about Snapchat and its future in your property’s marketing strategy.
Everyone’s attention has been on Snapchat in these first few weeks of 2016. Gary Vaynerchuck is all in and even the White House joined the Snap party. You may believe that Snapchat is fleeting or that its moral foundation is questionable. But, we want to share why it might be worth it for your hotel.
Real quick, Snapchat is best known the ephemeral messaging service that deletes photos and messages as soon as they’re opened. But, since it’s launch in September 2011, Snapchat has added several features that make it more attractive for businesses. A feature called Stories allows you to add a snap video or picture to your own personal feed that plays like a movie. The photo or video that you add to your story remains active for 24 hours and then self-destructs.
Stories are the biggest potential for brands, especially hotels, to offer a potential guests a new perspective. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a Snapchat story is worth an entire Novella, every single day.
Here’s the creator of Snapchat explaining the difference between Snapchat and other social media channels. He also explains the difference between, snaping, chatting, and stories.
Numbers don’t lie and more people are paying attention to Snapchat. Over the last year in the United States, Snapchat added more 25-34 year old users (103%) and users older than 35 (84%) faster than 18-24 year old users (56%), according to a recent LA Times article. While their user base is “small” at 100 million compared to Instagram (400 million) and Facebook (1.5b), it’s ever-growing and entering markets that many thought it never would.
Last year, Snapchat posted billboards in major cities to gain awareness. The billboard only featured their iconic ghost across a bright yellow backdrop. Many adults did not recognize the friendly yellow ghost, but google searches showed that they accumulated attention .
Snapchat offers a much different user experience than any other social network. Not only because messages delete immediately or after 24 hours, but also because there are no popularity metrics. It’s quirky and fun. On Instagram and Facebook, young people are constantly looking for validation via likes and follows. Snapchat takes that away, and while all social media vanity doesn’t disappear, it’s certainly a major difference.
Marriott made headlines last year when they showed their new commitment to social and media as a whole when they launched ‘M Live.’ M Live is Marriott’s new content department, that centralizes everything they create and share. It makes sense that they joined Snapchat last year to appeal to a new, younger demographic. They partnered with social influencers from YouTube in order to drive new audiences to their account. These influencers, known for their storytelling abilities, will share their trip at Marriott properties to increase Marriott’s followership and build community.
A member of Marriott’s content team said that most brands use Snapchat to push ads instead of content, which is the wrong move. Marriott is focused on pushing content rather than ads. This strategy is in line with Snapchat’s purpose of sharing unique, real experiences. Marriott plans to build content to create a community that will eventually lead to commerce.
If your hotel can get someone hooked on watching your stories on a consistent basis because you share interesting facets of your property and destination, you’ll be top-of-mind when they decide it’s time to book another trip.
It’s all about following where your consumer is going next, and everyone’s waiting for Snapchat’s Facebook moment.
One of Snapchat’s unique features is that you cannot upload existing content to your story. When your property uploads content to your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, it needs to be the correct size, with the right type of links and meet a various amount of other checklists.
But, with Snapchat, you only have the option to take a video or picture right then and there. There are a variety of things you can do to your pics or videos including adding pictures, emojis, text, filters, or geotags. But, compared to how much work is put into presentation on other platforms, Snapchat is much simpler.
So, what’s a hotelier like you to do? Share experiences from a different point of view.
Go behind the scenes, here are some ideas:
The goal is to grow a community of people who will one day be inspired to visit your property. You can achieve this by showing off what makes your property on Snapchat in a way that’s not possible on any other platform.
You’ll make past, present, and future guests feel more connected to your property when you share experiences, rather than ads.
W Hotels enabled geo-tags at their property as part of their Snapchat marketing strategy. Geo-tags are filters that are only available to users in certain locations, like cities, neighborhoods, retail stores, or in this case, hotels. The filters let users create digital postcards to send their friends.
W Hotels had to pay Snapchat to enable these geo-tags, but they show how people share their travel experiences via this new medium. While you probably don’t have the budget to buy Snapchat ads, it validates Snapchat as a sharing platform, especially while people are on vacation.
Snapchat is still very young. Their user base is rapidly growing and their ad platform is just getting started. Right now, the ability for one account to get attention over another is equal. Essentially, your hotel is playing on the same playing field as a Marriott or W Hotels. It is true they may be able to push more people to follow them on Snapchat from their existing marketing channels. But, once a user is on Snapchat, the way they see one account over another is the same . Marriott cannot promote their story to be above yours. Stories are sorted by time and not popularity.
Snapchat may change their sorting algorithm in the future, but for now, everyone who shows up to the party is getting an equal shot.
As Travel Tipper points out, it really depends on your hotel’s target market. If you’re a youth hostel in Europe, then Snapchat is likely worth it for your property. But, if you’re a hotel that caters to an older demographic uninterested in social media altogether, then probably not.
If Snapchat doesn’t feel right for your property right now, it may become more lucrative in the future. As their popularity and functionality expands, they will likely develop tools that help brands, such as hotels, reach new audiences.