Advertisers have long been attached to well-established social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But in recent years, untapped millions of potential customers have been Snapchatting and Instagraming away without the obvious push/pull of advertisers. More importantly, traditionally hard-to-reach demographics like teenagers have been just beyond the marketers reach.
But the untapped social media platforms have a dilemma. To be financially successful, they need to find ways to monetise their service that is otherwise free to users. That is where paying advertisers come in. And for some companies, that is the point when their users leave.
After a recent update, Snapchat – one the largest platforms for teens – was harshly criticised by its fan base about disabling a feature that allowed users “snoop” on their friends by seeing who they interacted with the most. Amidst the uproar, Snapchat caved into its users and will reinstate the “best friend” function. But, the site is keeping its newly released Discover tool. They now let media outlets post bite-sized content on the popular messaging app. Through Discover, users tap to open a new edition, swipe left to browse through different stories, or swipe up to see more from a story.
Through this new capability, Snapchat has the support of a number of media partners, mostly US-based brands including CNN, ESPN, and National Geographic. Everyday, companies will tell a new “story” through Snapchat. They feature both videos and articles hand-picked by their staffers. These companies are hoping the getting new eyes on their stories will bring in a new, younger audience to their normal digital channels – hopefully just an app click away.
Another new power player in the social media area, Instagram, released an update this week to enhance its video playback capabilities. It has modified its video settings so that clips automatically replay in users’ streams. This looping function will appeal to brands and advertisers who want to get as many views for their ads as possible. Unlike the Snapchat change, users of Instagram may not be instantly impressed by the change. Not only will “autoplay” eat up data, as of now there no way to disable autoplaying altogether. Industry experts believe the move by Instagram is a direct challenge of Vine, the social network built on looped, 6-second videos. Instagram provides users 15 seconds to get their video across, but many of those are not designed to be looped. Users have also criticised the standard of the Instagram video in comparison to their more stylised photograph options.