I have written previous articles about how marketers should be testing, learning and quickly iterating on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to tell their brand stories. And recently, Mary Meeker helped drive home the point about the relevance of such social platforms in her annual Internet Trends report. As a refresher:
The report showed how smartphones are increasingly used to combine several powerful storytelling tools via camera+storytelling+creativity+messaging, combined with social sharing network effect. Meeker mentioned that she and her team believe Snapchat has a “perfect trifecta” for this, especially given their daily video growth rate.
Marketers such as Wal-Mart, Sony Pictures, Ford and Dick’s Sporting Goods are just a few that have jumped into Snapchat to leverage massively engaged audiences with cool filters, storytelling and ads. An insight not to miss is that all these snapchatters (and instagrammers) are sending geo-specific signals each time they share. For brick-and-mortar retailers, this geo-location is a massively untapped opportunity to reach customers during a store visit and when purchase consideration is happening.
Given the combination of geo-location and marketers’ quest to reach customers in store, attribute traffic and conversion, it’s no wonder marketers are finally embracing Snapchat and Instagram in new ways. And also why Instagram’s launching of “Stories” should not surprise anyone.
Silicon Valley has a long history of companies copying each other. Steve Jobs famously saw GUI at Xerox Parc and that inspired the Mac. Many say he stole it. As Apple’s Bud Tribble is noted for saying: “If you take something and make it your own…it’s your design and that is the dividing line between copying and stealing.” That concept is part of Apple’s DNA and certainly many other tech companies in the valley. Kevin Systrom, Instagram CEO/founder, hasn’t run from the obvious copying of Snapchat. In fact, he said “they [Snapchat] deserve all the credit”. In my opinion Instagram has innovated by making the “Stories” feature much more seamless and intuitive vs. Snapchat. Snapchat will almost certainly refine their UX. But the Instagram feature and better UX is just the tip of the spear.
Instagram is owned by Facebook and has a uniquely strong capability to tap into mobile “storytelling” to augment data (especially geo-data) to fortify cross-device insights with Facebook Insights (think purchase data). This combination can be an incredibly powerful for tool for marketers. As marketers, we have become better at understanding our data streams and applying smart strategies and tactics to drive engagement and purchase. Search and social have been a proving ground for following intentions all the way to purchase. As search evolves outside of “traditional” search into platforms such as Instagram (note no search available on Snapchat), marketers will have more ammunition to target audiences and truly track path to purchase while giving attribution to the right events.
I love both Snapchat and Instagram, but the amazing cross-device, geo-targeting and massive network effect of Instagram+Facebook is why I’m betting on Instagram in the long game.
As marketers, you should already be well underway in testing and learning with these platforms and have deft understanding of your first-party data and how it can be combined with the ever increasing rich data set derived from helping consumers tell their stories. Holiday 2016 should be your best season ever with all the tools you have at your disposal. Are you ready?
Editor's note: This article orginally appeared on Aug. 11, 2016, in this newsletter.