Snapchat or Instagram?

A few weeks ago we asked our RockStars – Why Snapchat? As reports came out stating that Snapchat was sitting second only to Facebook in the amount of time users spend in social apps beating out Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger among others it seemed that the newest social network on the block was unstoppable.

But now with Instagram launching it’s (look-a-like) ‘Instagram Stories’ feature, we asked our RockStars what they think the new feature means for Snapchat’s audience. Which social network will reign supreme when it comes to instantaneous storytelling?

Watch our video to find out what they had to say.

You, Too, Can Own Your Platform. (And You Should!)

By David Naranjo
Indulge me for a moment in some “back in my day” reminiscing.

When I was coming up in the world of media and communications, leading a team of PR pros at Sony Music and later the Estefan Enterprises, we worked hard to gin up positive coverage for our artists. More coverage equaled more units sold, so these earned opportunities were golden. Those media gatekeepers could make or break a new album, a career, or a label itself.

Needless to say, things are different today. For musicians and entertainers the revolution kicked into high gear back in the mid-00s with the rise of MySpace as a proto-platform to own the messaging and imagery associated with your brand. With a little bit of HTML and a lot of elbow grease, you could bring your art to millions, where you once needed a label, a marketing team, and an interested media. The MySpace page became the new street team (not coincidentally around this time Sony and other record companies decommissioned their own networks of real street teams).

And we know the story from there: MySpace begat Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, and for artists more targeted apps like Soundcloud and Bandcamp integrated nicely. Cobbling together these pages with a centralized website and blog makes an effective, elegant platform for artists. Tend that social media garden well enough, and it becomes hard to remember why we ever needed media outlets so badly.

Of course, we love our friends in the press, and they always make our jobs easier. But the best brands today are leaving nothing to chance. Like those bands inhabiting the early MySpace, smart brands are creating their own platform for message management.

Our client Zappos recently engaged us for a back-to-school campaign. The deals were great, as was the apparel. And the brand is noteworthy in its own right—definitely not an unknown, frequently covered by mainstream press and trades. But this was a back-to-school campaign, straining its neck to be noticed in a sea of other back-to-school campaigns. Earned media coverage was incredibly unlikely without some kind of elevation.

We used the brand’s social media platforms to link out to guest bloggers whose influence made the campaign into actual coverage-worthy news. Now, it wasn’t just half off your second pair of sneakers. It was mommy bloggers bragging about the pairs of shoes they had gotten for their kids. Engaging with the influencers, we were able to rise above the commercial noise.

Sometimes the need to control the message speaks to the brand’s very existence. Consider a quick service restaurant client of ours who was facing a very difficult investigation in Europe into their locations. The sensational story gave short shrift to the facts and was bombastic in all the ways you hope to avoid for your clients.

So, rather than engage with the journalists in their forum, we marshaled the strength of the brand’s social media to publish facts about the situation, taking a crisis and turning it into a teaching moment. This kind of education would have been impossible on any platform other than the client’s own. The strategy was effective: the news magazine shelved a planned sequel to their report after our own messaging essentially defanged their reporting.

Here is a healthy exercise for anyone leading a brand’s communication efforts: imagine you have something incredibly important to say, something everyone needs to hear, and you have to do it right this moment. How would you do it? Would you be reliant on someone else to do it for you? Is your social media presence primed and active? Have you tended that garden? What shape are your lists in? When’s the last time someone organically signed up for your newsletter? Do you have a newsletter, if only to collect email addresses?

Media companies spend millions to refine their platforms. So should you. No one can tell your story better than you.

Why Snapchat?

It’s official. There are more people snapping every day than they are tweeting. 150 million daily users in fact compared to Twitter’s 140 million. And it’s not just Twitter. Snapchat now sits second only to Facebook in the amount of time users spend in social apps beating out Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger among others.

So we asked our RockStars – Why Snapchat?

 Here’s what they had to say.


The Case for Vertical Video: Why 1080 x 1920 is Right Around the Corner

By Sergio Claudio

In the land of mobile Millennials, vertical is the way of our one-handed, swipe-happy friends. We know audiences respond to relevant content and this means content formatted for optimal viewing on specific platforms.

Snapchat recently encouraged marketers and media companies to shoot ad vertically. Snapchat touts itself as the go-to platform for millenials and the most effective way to engage them is through a vertical video. Snapchat is on to something and its latest move is putting the customer first. And why not? When you create with the consumers’ preferences and habits in mind, your efforts have a much better chance of connecting with them and delivering greater impact.

This should sound familiar to the introduction of square photos. Not too long ago, Instagram completely changed the way people shoot and edit photos, and inspired the use of square-ready apps to make sure users fit everyone for a selfie into that infamous square frame. Even the most prominent devices and platforms now have square cropping options built-in to make the process easier for users. This became a no-brainier for brands as they quickly began crafting square content for viewers around the world.

In the age of “native” advertising, people want to engage with contextual (and formatted) content that fits into their current experience. Having to click away, squint, or tilt your phone (or head—people do it) creates a barrier between users and your message. Just as print and display ads have to adapt for publishers, it is now video’s turn to do the same and adapt for the mobile screen. 1080 x 1920 is right around the corner.

In terms of distribution for this new vertical content, the framework already exists. Facebook currently expands vertical videos to fullscreen from the mobile newsfeed. Responsive sites are the new standard, and could benefit from having a vertical video option available when scaled down for mobile. Plenty of rich media formats could also use a refreshed use of video, as advertisers have squeezed horizontal videos into vertical 300 x 600 ads and mobile interstitials for years. Snapchat might even want to explore network partnerships with vertical display ad placements to help sweeten their distribution offering (that one is free, Snapchat ;)) .

The concept is not as far-fetched as brands may think. Whether it comes in the form of new cropping options, shooting techniques, or a “responsive video” concept, there is no question that video is being consumed on the slim screen. This may now mean more production work upfront, but in the end, your content works harder and delivers where it matters most: in the results.


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