Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pah! Snapchat is where it’s at. But how can your hotel make effective use of one of the freshest - and, on the face of it - most perplexing social networks?
Snapchat first debuted in September 2011. Now, it is estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of $18billion and reportedly has more users than Twitter. Clearly, suggestions last year that Snapchat was about to become the ‘next big thing’ in social networking were bang on the money.
Tellingly, millennials account for 7 out of 10 ‘Snapchatters’, which may explain why Snapchat video views are now greater than Facebook’s.
But, enough with the big stats - we can almost guarantee you’re asking yourself one question…
What is Snapchat?
Confession time. I am a geek and have considered myself at the heart of tech for a very long time indeed, but I’ve previously installed Snapchat on my iPhone several times only to look at it, scratch my head, and then immediately consign it to the pile of deleted apps.
It just didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, but that’s no surprise when you consider that the majority of active Snapchat users reside within the 18-24 age bracket. So, is Snapchat a platform aimed squarely at a younger audience? Now that I’ve had time to play with it again, I’m not so convinced.
Snapchat is an instant messaging service, but it is unlike any of its forefathers. Messages have a very short shelf life on this particular social network; senders can choose a lifespan for their videos and images that ranges from 1 to 10 seconds. Once the message arrives at the other end and is watched by the recipient, it disappears. Forever.
How does Snapchat work in marketing?
Just as with Facebook and Twitter, businesses can set up their own Snapchat profiles. Once created, they can add ‘friends’ and send out messages just like regular users.
The ‘Discover’ feature is rather more compelling for marketing departments, as it focuses on providing daily editorial on trending topics via collaborations with the likes of CNN and National Geographic. Discover content can even be targeted based on the needs of a brand’s audience.
Should I be using Snapchat for my hotel’s marketing?
The developers behind Snapchat were clever enough to recognise the importance of stories in all of our lives. Humans love a good story, which is why it is now possible to create our own and devour our friends’ via Snapchat’s ‘Stories’ feature.
With Stories, users of Snapchat can post a collection of photos and videos and have them automatically tied together in one package that their friends can watch (and re-watch) for 24 hours before they’re deleted forever.
Because of this little feature, we think the answer to the above question is a resounding “yes!”.
How hotels can use Snapchat Stories
Consider a day in the life of your establishment. How many people get to see the inner workings of your hotel? How many guests get an insight into what it takes to make their stay pleasurable?
If the idea of videoing the nuts and bolts of your hotel operation sounds rather unpalatable, bear in mind that we now live in what has become known as the ‘sharing society’, and giving others a glimpse into the mechanics of a business is a great way to drive interest in one’s brand.
The best thing about Snapchat, as with so many new advertising platforms, is that it is incredibly easy to get started and experiment with. All you need is a smartphone (Snapchat is free) and a willingness to begin recording the life of your hotel.
As you go about your job, start recording interactions with (willing) staff and glimpses at back office departments. Perhaps you’ve got a wedding this coming weekend - why not show off the on-going setup of the marquee and catering operation?
Your hotel’s story is fascinating. With Snapchat, you can begin telling it.
Which hotels have already started using Snapchat?
If we’ve whetted your appetite, there’s nothing like a bit of inspiration to get you going. You could do worse than read Mariott’s story, the first big hotel chain to begin a marketing campaign on Snapchat.
Give Snapchat a go. Like any social network, when you first begin, it’ll feel like you’re simply sending content out into an empty room with no potential guests in sight, but the more you do it, and the more you tell people you’re doing it, the more chance you have of attracting engaged followers.
Snapchat is devilishly fun, so there’s little to lose. Once you get the hang of creating your daily stories, start telling guests that they can follow you on Snapchat - you could do this in person at checkout time, within your confirmation emails or on your hotel’s blog.
If you’re a hotelier that already uses Snapchat, we’d love to hear your experiences - get involved in the comments below!