Written by Sandra Markovic


On-the-go: Consumers in a mobile world 

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and YouTube might sound familiar to you. At least for many it does since these social networking sites are used all over the globe. We certainly reside in a world where 24/7 connection and collaboration is mundane, which can only be described as ubiquitous. (Hoffman & Novak, 2013; Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden, 2011) Even though social media already is popular, it looks like it is growing in popularity by the minute. As online social networking behaviors increase in an ever-connected and mobile world, it becomes important for brands to find a way to employ social media in a proper way (Hoffman & Novak, 2013). 

Because the truth is that marketers no longer run the show to the same extent as before. There has been a power-shift! Consumers have gone from being passive receivers to storytelling co-creators by having the ability to create, share, recommend and discuss content (Fournier & Avery, 2011; Hanna, Rohm & Crittenden, 2011; Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy & Silvestre, 2011). It seems that in a constantly connected world consumers know they can find anything on demand and thereby their attention is elusive (Teixeira, 2014; Fournier & Avery, 2011). Actually marketers only have about eight seconds to catch people’s attention, which makes it vital to get the message across quick and to make it interesting (Yuhl, 2013; Teixeira, 2014). It feels safe to say that in today’s multitasking society, one of the most powerful things brands can command is someone’s full-activated attention (Wong, 2014). 

Personalization through visual storytelling

Mobile data traffic increased with 81% in the last two years, and is expected to grow ten times more by 2019 (Emarsys, 2014) In this ubiquitous, smartphone-crazed world, the popularity of mobile apps such as Snapchat, Instagram and Vine is inevitable. This indicates that mobility as well as visual elements plays an important role in social media. (Carson, 2014) 2014 trend reports in social advertising included video ads on Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and Facebook. This trend, so called social video, is expected to continue in 2015 (Woerner, 2015).  

The popularity does not spring from nowhere and actually there are benefits for brands in using social video. Look at the storytelling aspect for instance. At the very core, storytelling and branding come out of the same starting point: emotions and values (Fog & Budtz, 2010). By using stories, brands can help build awareness, recognition, and provide meaning (Gensler, Völckner, Liu-Thompkins, Wiertz, 2013). Hence, by using audio-visual storytelling to fashion well-crafted messages brands can create emotional bonds (Woerner, 2015; Fog & Budtz, 2010).

A way of connecting with consumers on an emotional level is to reach out through personalized messages. It will create a peer-to-peer feeling and avoid the feeling of annoying spam (Woerner, 2015; Mindruta, 2015). According to Brandwatch ‘vloggers’ and ‘micro-vloggers’ are setting the future shape of marketing and advertising (Mindruta, 2015). ‘Vlogger’ is short for video blogger, which essentially is a person who uses video as the primary content. So by reaching out to, or become, ‘vloggers’ for exposure and reviews, there can be great opportunities for brands to personalize their messages. 

Pinpointing the ubiquitous world we live in Forrester analyst Thomas Husson says: “Marketing goals need to go beyond monetization. A mobile app can be the engine that drives traditional marketing benefits, such as higher customer satisfaction and greater brand awareness.” In the Mobile App Marketing Trends report Husson further argues: "You can deliver value to customers by serving them in their micro-moments, whenever they have only a few seconds to check information or access services." (Kaneshige, 2015) 

Surely there are opportunities for brands to benefit from using social videos in general and apps in particular. To be able to catch people’s attention is certainly valuable in today’s high-pace society, and viral advertising is the way to go (Teixeira, 2014). In fact, Forrester’s App Engagement Index report states that only a few apps truly engage users, including Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (Tode, 2015). Let us dig deeper into the latter, shall we? 

Snapchat: A 24-hour story

Snapchat is a mobile-only platform and was up until June last year exclusively a photo-messaging app where peers could send personal messages lasting up to ten seconds to other ‘snapchatters’. In late 2014 it turned into a mobile video platform, introducing ‘Stories’. Using the power of storytelling, Snapchat allows users to string together photos and videos, creating stories that live for 24 hours in the feed for friends to watch if they wish (Snapchat, 2014a). By putting together a short video with a text and doodles – peers can share for fun and converse to expand and/or maintain relationships (Kietzmann et al., 2011). As of October 2014, the platform started to charge brands for putting ads in ‘Recent Updates’ (Snapchat, 2014b).  

Among avid users, typically teens and Millennials of age 13 to 25, fashioning a Snapchat story is an art (Bernard, 2015). The mobile app is reported to have over 100 million monthly active users sending over 700 million Snaps and watching over 1 billion Stories per day (Wong, 2014). Despite of its growing popularity and expansion of features, brands have been cautious about using the platform because of its dubious reputation, limited analytics and the inability to use consumer data for targeting (Wong, 2014). Adding on to this, brands have to pay $750,000 a day to run a ‘my story’ ad (Bernard, 2015). Wow, that is quite pricey! 

Although while other platforms might have better measurement and targeting for the price tag, there are many benefits of putting the fast-growing and evolving Snapchat in the digital marketing toolbox. In fact, many global brands such as Disney, Universal Pictures, Heineken, McDonalds and Audi are increasingly active on the platform. Are you curious about why Snapchat is a good marketing tool? Want to know what brands use it and how? Stay tuned for the next chapter.