Snapchat has found plenty of success with its advertising platform, and the company is set to make a lot of money off of it very soon, but there are still plenty of brands that want to use the platform natively, meaning advertise themselves without having to pay for it.
Typically that means using influencers, or people with a big presence on the platform, to spread messages to other users organically. The only question is: just how effective are those influencers? How far can they spread that content?
Snaplytics, a company offering Snapchat marketing insights to brands, agencies, and online influencers, is going to find out with the launch of its Influencer Tracking Platform. The new feature was announced at Snapchat conference Snaphappen in London on Thursday.
With the Platform, brands will be able to better see how content that was created by influencers is being engaged with by other users. Stats will include the number of stories they've created, the duration of what they created, the tap rate, the number of screenshots taken, and number of seconds watched in total.
"We've been working on doing Snapchat analytics since January of 2015. That's when we first hatched the idea of the company. Since then we've been iterating and working on finding a scalable solution, until around the end of October 2015. That's when we had the launch of our brand analytics," Snaplytics CEO Thomas Cilius told me in an interview.
"We discovered during that period of time the imminent need most agencies and brands have in terms of amplifying their message through influencers."
The problem is that, on Snapchat, it is very time consuming to get that data. It typically involves the influencer needing to send screenshots back and forth to the brand, showing how many people have seen the content that was uploaded. They also need to download stories manually to send them to the brand.
Snaplytics' new Platform simplifies the process, and automates it.
"This is a problem we can solve. What we built is an Influencer Tracking Platform, which lets you, as a brand or an agency, work with as many influencers as you can imagine, while making the process as as fluent as possible," said Cilius.
"We monitor all the content, all the stories, that the influencer will post during the campaign period. Then you, as a social media manager, can track the actual stories, or the bits of the stories, you want to monitor. You only get those stats into your campaign, and only the reach of those particular stories."
So, for example, if the brand is running a four week long campaign, they can see which influencers they've been utilizing, for how many days, how much content they've been posting, and how many screenshots were taken. The brand can see it on an aggregate level as well, meaning how much reach the campaign had, including how many seconds and minutes the viewers consumed the brand related content.
"It's just making things a lot more scalable. Some brands today, when they work with influencers, they avoid the whole notion of them having to do any analytics. It basically makes Snapchat less interesting as a channel," said Cilius.
"For a brand, you have to measure everything you do. It's not enough to tell a nice story or do a fun doodle. You need to show you actually engaged people. I want to know how many people, for how long, were engaged. Then I can see the real business value in it."
The influencers themselves can be anyone on Snapchat, but they are chosen by the brands, not Snaplytics.
In terms of return on investment for the brands that use the Influencer Tracking Platform, Cilius said it's hard to calculate.
"ROI is easy when you have paid advertising. You can see how many clicks you got on your website, how many converted in Google analytics, and how much was spent to get those clicks. On Snapchat you walk around with your phone to capture that special moment, you create content, but there’s no links anywhere," he said.
"The ROI is somewhat complicated. You need to measure it as a brand value rather than actual conversations. It's not tactile, it's more strategic, in my point of view. It can become tactile, once you use coupon codes, but the conversation you have with your followers will be on more brand level, in terms of how you’re building your brand."
Right now Snaplytics only measure native content, not paid advertising on Snapchat, though Cilius said that is something that he would be open to doing in the future.
Snaplytics currently works with over 150 brands, including Marriot, Ben & Jerry's and Vodafone.
The opportunity on Snapchat
Snapchat is a relatively young social network, but Cilius sees a lot of opportunity in how people engage with the platform.
"It has two different interesting aspects to it in terms of being a medium for storytellers. Snapchat is not about taking beautiful selfies and holding a brand in your hand. It is merely a matter of you, as a narrator, as a storyteller, telling the story. That is what people tap into. Snapchat's really interesting in terms of storytelling," he said.
"There's a few other social platforms out there that are really good for storytelling as well, but where Snapchat really differs is that they have a huge amount of users. In terms of being a storyteller platform, in terms of having a huge amount of young and up to around 35 year old people on the platform, it's hugely interesting for brands to be present there."
Other networks, like Facebook and Instagram, are "kind of boring and one-sided," he told me, and it’s the new social media platforms that are really allowing users to tell their stories.
"On Snapchat, you have influencers documenting stuff from their lives. They’re traveling around the world, doing a vlog session simultaneously on Snapchat, because it's fun media. It's easy to do, because it's on the phone, which you already brought. And it's interesting way, especially in a fast paced world, to consume content as an end user."
What's next for Snaplytics?
Going forward, Cilius wants to go deeper into Snapchat analytics, while keeping the door open to go into other platforms as well.
"We see ourselves as a marketing automation and analytics platform. We're working primarily in new media industry, so Snapchat is really, really obvious for us to do a lot for. We still see a lot of work that needs to be done on Snapchat. Much more to be done to automate and make it scalable for brands and influencers on the channel," he said.
"After that, who knows? We may move to more networks. We'll likely do even more than today on Snapchat in the close future, and in the long future we may move into more platforms, depending on how the market moves."
While Cilius couldn't tell me which platforms those might be, there is some criteria.
"Basically, you can look at a platform in different ways. There are a few things to consider. One is number of companies already doing it. If you want to Facebook analytics, there's going to be a zillion companies out there doing it," he said.
"Secondly, there's the number of users on the platform. You can choose to be only one who does it for a particular platform with two users on it, or it's going to be a somewhat more crowded space if more users are actually on it. So, number of users is important. Churn is important, and our customers, and which platform they seem to be using, is equally important, because we believe the current customers we have, we should try to do everything we can to help them with their social media profiles."
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