Social-Local Landscape: Are Snaps the New Check-in?

Social Media’s place in the local marketing pantheon continues to be cemented in our SMB survey data.  More evidence came with Facebook’s announced 40 million SMB active Pages (2 million of those advertise). Twitter, Vine, Instagram and Meerkat are also localizing in different ways.

But what about Snapchat? It’s the fastest growing social media among Millennials — a behavior worth watching if you consider the generation’s influence and buying empowerment as it cycles into the ranks of the adult consumer population. But is there a local play?

This started to be answered when it localized the OurStories format — curated collections of snaps around a specific topic or theme. Local OurStories means that these themes can now have geo-specific relevance, such as a college campus, sports team, or event.

The latter has been the killer app for OurStories so far. This started with EDC and more recently caught fire at Coachella. These event-based OurStories not only have heavy engagement but lots of advertiser-friendly attributes, in being curated, Millennial-rich and massive (up to 25 million views).

Sponsored OurStories so far include Samsung and Heineken, making them much more oriented towards national brands than SMBs. Interestingly, this makes Snapchat’s competition for ad revenues less about social apps and more about another reach-based local media: television.

But the differentiating factor for OurStories could be the explicit location context. Consider the location targeting challenges that others face, such as mobile ad networks that defer to inaccurate or inferred location. We discussed this challenge recently with ThinkNear and xAd.

OurStories get users to make their location known as a natural part of the social-sharing process. This makes it a sort of location check-in a la Swarm, but with much deeper and more sustained engagement. The question is how Snapchat bottles that as a promotional vehicle.

So far that’s been all about big events, but could it apply to smaller pockets of localized promotions that have greater frequency? That would mean any business where location and temporal relevance matter. Think: flash sales, happy hours and any “perishable inventory.”

Most of all, Snapchat’s signature ephemerality is aligned with time-sensitive promotions, making it a “native” integration. It could join the list of social sharing tools that monetize the locality of the user experience. First for brands then potentially — as shown by Facebook and Instagram — for SMBs.

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