Experimenting with the potential marketing uses of an emerging
social platform can be challenging because they are typically not
mature enough for advertising. Snapchat and Facebook's rival app,
Poke, have the added risk of being perceived as overtly sexual
messaging services. Still, the sheer popularity of Snapchat and
Facebook Poke has begun attracting marketers.
Mr. Britten is the engineer behind 16 Handles' recent Snapchat
promotion, which, according to him, makes 16 Handles the first
brand to conduct a marketing campaign through the service. The
"Snappy New Year" campaign urges the company's Facebook fans to
send a Snapchat photo, or "snap," of their frozen-yogurt purchase
to the company's Snapchat account. Participants then receive a
coupon via Snapchat that can be redeemed at the register.
"My mom shops at Kohl's and gets discount cards she can
only scratch off at register. I was trying to create the digital
version of that ," Mr. Britten said.
A similar campaign was originally planned for the company's
Twitter account, but Mr. Britten said Snapchat was more fitting
because images disappear within seconds. On Twitter, it's easy for
photos of coupons to be copied and circulated to people who weren't
intended to receive them.
16 Handles did not have a Snapchat account before the campaign
started on Jan. 1. Now, the company has sent and received more than
1,400 snaps with users.
On December 21, Facebook released Facebook Poke, a messaging
service virtually identical to Snapchat, and it too has already
caught the attention of marketers eager to be the first to use it
Grey Tel Aviv, part of WPP's Grey network, launched a video
campaign for a onetime sale for client Delta Lingerie on rival
service Facebook Poke. A 10-second video of a model putting
on Delta Lingerie was sent to the brand's Facebook fans and was
erased after viewing.
"As a brand, when you do things differently, the campaign can
have a wide impact," Grey Tel Aviv's head of digital Dan Eblagon
The campaign has generated a lot of "free media," Mr. Eblagon
said, including coverage on an Israeli news website, fashion blog
and Israeli broadcast network Channel 10.
That doesn't mean either campaign has been a success, however.
Mr. Britten said that it's difficult to gauge how well the
unprecedented 16 Handles campaign is performing because there's no
basis for reference. Furthermore, snaps and Facebook pokes cannot
be shared, depriving marketers of the precious social-media metrics
they typically use to judge users' engagement with a brand
Some marketers think it's a mistake to use these channels that ,
despite their popularity, are still in their infancy.
"The products are so focused on user experience that I would say
marketers should stay away for the time being," Ian Schafer, CEO of
digital agency Deep Focus, said.
"[They're] not marketer-ready yet at all. I would wait to see how
that behavior evolves."
Marketers using these channels risk being too closely associated
with sexting, sending sexually explicit photos via smartphones.
Snapchat and Poke are seemingly designed for users to securely send
sexual messages to one another. Mr. Britten said that while he's
aware Snapchat is perceived by some as just a sexting platform, he
sees it as a platform where users depict themselves more honestly
than on Facebook.
Grey Tel Aviv, meanwhile, wanted to take advantage of the sexual
implications of the platform with its suggestive ad.
"It all came together," Mr. Eblagon said. "It would've been
ridiculous not to use this opportunity."
Facebook declined to comment for this story. Messages sent to
Snapchat requesting comment were not returned.