Laughing all the way to the ‘buy’ button: why retailers can’t ignore Snapchat-style filters

Instagram may be booming but Snapchat still has a power to immerse its users in the experience that its rival hasn’t yet matched. The magic ingredient? Filters! Facebook launched ‘Messenger Day’, which includes the same ‘stories’ element, complete with a variety of photo filters, yet still Snapchat reigns supreme in this arena. Every day 150 million people use it to share self-destructing photo and video messages. Naturally, brands are keen to understand how they can advertise on this unique platform most effectively – a subject we explored last year: how retailers can harness the power of Snapchat. Here we take a look at why Snapchat’s filters are so potent and influential, and why retailers must adapt quickly to a world where other media platforms are rushing to join the party.

Filters a great marketing tool because they don’t feel like marketing!

In contrast to regular advertising, our automatic reaction is not to ignore or press a skip button to avoid a sponsored Snapchat filter. Their interactive and immersive nature is inherently fun and encourages us to engage with, experiment and enjoy branded content.

Exclusive geo-filters, based on a user’s smartphone-identified geographical location, heighten the relevance of targeted advertising by making it sync neatly with our daily lives. This not only makes it far more effective at influencing us in the moment but increases the chance that these interactions will be shared with friends. Branded content becomes part of conversations rather than interrupting them; it feels organic rather than imposed by a distant entity – a digital word of mouth that can be prompted yet still seems authentic.

A recent instance of the effectiveness of this weapon was Starbucks offer of a time-limited Happy Hour geo-filter in the US, which reminded potential customers nearby to take advantage of a half-price offer.

Next generation of platforms making it even more vital for retailers to join in

The challenge for advertisers is to build on this capacity to generate awareness and create genuine calls to action. Snapchat currently offers no direct way for users to go from viewing a filter to purchasing from an online store, but Instagram is making moves to address this weakness. Its platform has developed tags that allow users to purchase items featured in a photo – providing a seductively easy way of turning desire into consummation!

This latest innovation seems to signal a step-change in the commercial importance of the filter phenomenon. As more and more players seek to emulate Snapchat’s success, the trend will surely persist and strengthen. Brands must recognise that the way consumers are using social media is changing and be prepared to meet the fast-growing appetite for interactive, in-the-moment, relevant content. Failure to do so will not only risk FOMO but missing out altogether.



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