By Nikita Geldenhuys

1. Local Snapchat users are ready for your brand

Consumers are overwhelmed by perfectly crafted marketing messages all day, explains Helen Margaret Aadnesgaard, Vega & Design School’s digital media specialist. Yet consumers still want to hear from and about their favourite brands, she says. “Because Snapchat allows one to only see who they want to, and messages that are authentic to the brand, it can be an effective tool if used to its full potential.”

Aadnesgaard believes that once brands are ready for Snapchat, the South African audience will welcome them. She suggests businesses keep the following in mind: “Companies who don't catch on quickly will lose out, but in the same vein, it may not be an appropriate channel for brands that don't have a single voice and message.”

Vega School and Design School Southern Africa, both educational brands of The Independent Institute of Education, have Snapchat accounts. The brands encourage students and prospective students to ‘add’ them using @VegaSchool and @DSSA_Official to get a glimpse of what student life at the institutions is like.

2. It's only for brave businesses

There are various reasons so few South African brands are using Snapchat. A major factor is that South African brands stick to what they are comfortable with, as Donovan White, digital strategist at NATIVE VML, explains. “Marketing managers have just started understanding Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and now we have Snapchat – a platform that doesn’t necessarily want brands and one that is virtually unmeasurable for a South African brand.”

“Marketing managers stress that they need to show the return on investment, so they ‘need’ fancy graphs to show how many people the brand has reached, how many people engaged with it, and how many likes their Facebook page has. South African brands are not scared; they just have no appetite to change.”

White says Snapchat can be an effective marketing tool if South African brands can “get over themselves” and give consumers a reason to open the app. The reward is worth it: the custom filters and newsfeed articles that Snapchat offers can give brands an interactive edge.

3. Collaborating with influencers is clever

Society King James used Snapchat at South African Fashion Week as far back as late 2015, as part of Rimmel London’s fashion week sponsorship.

Society King James partnered with Theodora Lee, one of South Africa’s top YouTubers, who also has a sizeable following on Snapchat. The agency did this because it’s hard to grow a brand's following from scratch, explains its founder, Daniel Pinch.

“[Theodora Lee] documented her entire fashion week experience, with an emphasis on covering Rimmel London. This was the first time, globally, Rimmel London had used Snapchat and we were one of the first brands in South Africa to adopt it.”

Pinch notes that, as content on the platform is not as crafted as it is on other networks, Snaps and Stories feel unfiltered and have a more human perspective. Using influencers make sense, because brands can use the influencer’s content style to come across as authentic.

Using a Snapchat influencer may also be the only way to get around the issue of advertising on Snapchat. Most Snapchat advertising options are not available in South Africa, so brands have to be experimental or rely on influencers to gain reach.

4. You need to get creative with measurement

Snapchat doesn’t have formal analytics so measuring the success of content is a challenge. Liquorice used the platform to amplify Sunglass Hut’s campaign at the 2016 South African Fashion Week. Lloyd Wybrow, head of social media at Liquorice, explains the company had to use unusual ways to measure its client’s campaign.

“Snapchat shows you how many people have taken screenshots of your Snaps. Those screenshots were used as an engagement tool. We recorded the number of screenshots based on polls that we posted: ‘Vote for your favourite look’,” he says.

As a sponsor of South African Fashion Week, Sunglass Hut’s global Snapchat account provided a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the developments, fashion, and personalities at the event. To generate talkability and engagement, the brand posted daily Snaps or Stories, and created a customised Snapchat filter, which users at the event could add to their stories.

Wybrow explained that, for analytics, Liquorice focused on the number of people consuming the Stories. It used the following metrics to measure the success of the campaign:

  • Total Unique Views: the number of people who have opened up the first frame in your Snapchat Story for at least a second;
  • Total Story Completions: the number of people who had viewed the last Snap of a Story with multiple Snaps, and completed the entire Story; and  
  • Completion Rate: the percentage of people that started viewing a Story, compared to how many of them saw the last part of the Story.

5. Snapchat faces challenges in South Africa

It’s helpful to remember that Snapchat is still finding its place in the country. Samantha Van Zyl, public relations manager at Student Village, explains that the social network is quite niche and few South Africans use it compared to other countries.

“There isn’t a huge Snapchat market in South Africa,” she explains. “The biggest pitfall, especially with South Africa’s youth, [is that] Snapchat consumes a lot of data. We’ve all seen the news reports on how South Africa’s data is way overpriced compared to other countries, and that definitely has an impact on the platforms our target markets choose to engage in.”

Another issue brands face is that they have little control over content and run a risk of coming across flawed. “This is a little worrying to brands who don’t work closely with their social media teams and might be why so many brands haven’t yet taken a leap,” Van Zyl says. “Also, brands that outsource social media management can find themselves swept up in a costly exercise with the amount of time needed to keep creating content.”

Despite these challenges, she notes brands that jump at this opportunity have the ability to ‘own’ the space.

Want to reach a new audience on Snapchat? Read Carat Johannesburg’s advice in this article: Snapchat is the millenial market whisperer.

*Image courtesy of Blogtrepreneur under this license