Snapchat's stories entice Millennials to see what locals experience, and the least travel brands can do on this platform is watch, learn, and iterate.
In the last year, Snapchat visibly increased the relevancy of its platform with travel-inducing content shot by its Millennial-rich audience, and travel brands should be there to meet them.
With 100 million daily active users on the platform, of which 65% of its audience uploading at least one snap a day, Snapchat is continuously deepening its position in the mobile-first, visual-based community.
In June 2015, Snapchat joined forces with advertising and public relations agency WPP and Daily Mail (the UK publisher often accused of stealing photographers’ work), to form a content marketing venture called Truffle Pig, which has no relation to the bespoke travel specialists Trufflepig. Their collective goal is to, “…inspire brand engagement, loyalty and sales,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP.
The high volume of user-generated content on Snapchat has created a rich content pool for Truffle Pig to learn from, as well as a great place to place ads in between snaps. Snapchat is aggregating content into two types of live stories with a 24-hour shelf life that separately feature cities and events.
To date, there have been over 50 cities and hundreds of events that give viewers a semi-voyeuristic look into users’ personal geo-tagged experiences, from personal stories, music festivals, sports, and annual cultural events, in addition to on-the-ground reaction to breaking news such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.
Clearly, it’s playing into featuring timely cultural events to stay relevant. Also, they are making it easier to view more content because users no longer need to hold down their screen to view snaps and stories. Although travel brands were latecomers to Instagram, the very least they can do is snatch up their brand’s names on Snapchat.
Travel Brands on Snapchat
Few travel brands are currently active on Snapchat, but those that are have a history of being social media pioneers on other platforms, from Facebook to Instagram. Beautiful Destinations, Conde Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, Marriott International, Matador Network, Pure Michigan, and Walt Disney World have Snapchat accounts. In addition, Hilton Hotels and Carnival have property- and line-specific accounts instead of an overall brand account, such as Hilton Waikoloa Village or Carnival Vista.
Most of them have a ways to go, but Walt Disney World has become quite the storyteller on Snapchat. National Geographic Traveler is a silent player on the platform. Its content is curated as part of its parent company’s presence on Snapchat’s Discover section, where media and publishers create daily interactive content exclusively for Snapchatters.
Snapchat’s Discover content partnership with media companies and publishers — including CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Food Network, National Geographic, and others — began in January 2015. At the time, this page was separate from what the Snapchatters saw in their Stories. They needed to click on the top right purple circle to access the original content.
Recently, Snapchat updated its app so that Discover partners’ logos appear on top of the usual roll of live stories and updates from friends. This way, users can click on National Geographic for example, and see their daily content. Also, users can swipe right to access the Discover index. As of right now, the separate Discover experience on the app remains the same, but there’s two new ways to access this content.
Megan Heltzel, content lead for social media at National Geographic Traveler told Skift, “We’re looking to create exposure and brand awareness [with the initiative]” in response to how they’re turning to Snapchat to appeal to Millennials.
Snapchat’s City Life — launched in April 2015 — is an editorial feature that curates user-generated content of time-based photos and short videos (10-seconds max) that have text overlays, doodles, or stickers — uploaded from various cities in one continuous snap. Users that checkoff their snaps to be included in “Our Story” becomes part of a geo-tagged content pool that Snapchat’s curatorial team chooses.
Users see what locals experience in their respective cities. For example, Snapchatters pan their smartphones to show the city’s skyline from rooftops; sing a diddy about their city as they sit in a rowboat on a lake; show where to shop for tchotchkes in open air markets; say goodnight from inside their homes. In the span of 24-hours, these moments are picked and stringed together to show what everyday life is like in that city. The storytelling arc of “City Life” makes it surprisingly inspiring to perhaps consider it as a future travel destination.
To date, Snapchat has featured users’ snaps from waking up and saying goodnight in more than 50 cities in thirty countries. The frequency has evolved from being sporadic to nearly a handful of cities per week in nearly three dozen countries including Brazil, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.S.
As of right now, residents and visitors in cities across the globe — apart from Los Angeles, New York City and London — don’t get much of a heads up as to when they city will be included the feature. For avid Snapchatters, they may take notice of a peculiar “geofilter” — fun stickers that represent the city or activity — that are published a night or two before alerting them that their city’s upcoming feature. For example, Bostonians were notified with a sticker that said, “‘Heads Up! Boston is live tomorrow!”
City Life and events are a window into how the younger Millennials are communicating what excites them the most about their lives. Travel brands should pay attention and figure out how to greet them with snaps of fun places to eat, drink, see, and stay.
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Photo credit: Snapchat's Stories feed. Joyce Manalo / Skift