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QSRs, retailers have highest commerce potential with Snapchat geofilters

The younger demographics and plentiful store locations of quick service restaurants and some retailers make these merchants well-suited for leveraging Snapchat’s new sponsored geofilters to drive sales, but look for savvy marketers to sweeten the pot with rewards in the near future.

Marketers such as McDonald’s and Lilly Pulitzer are taking to social media to invite their customers to snap photos in their physical establishments, emblazon them with branded geofilters on photo-sharing application Snapchat and send them to friends or family. As location-based data becomes even more prevalent this year, this strategy could indirectly aggregate more new customers as mobile users become inspired by their friends’ Snaps and head to local stores to purchase items.

“In terms of leveraging branded geofilter stickers specifically: that is obviously just one of the ways to capitalize on an increasingly robust segmentation and targeting toolkit offered by Snapchat,” said James McNally, director of business development at Fuzz Productions, Brooklyn, NY. “The McDonald’s use case works well for several reasons, not the least of which is that cartoon fries and burgers are just inherently funny, and align with the Snapchat feel.

“Brands that have a recognizable product, and one that can be construed as playful or funny (regardless of what the product is) have a good entry point for this type of campaign,” he said. “Alternatively, this type of campaign could be leveraged well for event promotion – whether it’s a festival or a PR-focused party, there is more and more momentum behind aggregating social UGC around events (note upcoming changes on Twitter and Instagram).

“Large-scale QSR is a good fit, as are food and beverage in general, but really any category of product or service can leverage this type of ad product effectively, provided their target demo is on Snapchat, and provided the campaign is executed well.”

The best brands
The most well-suited brands to leveraging the geofilter stickers are those that have a large bricks-and-mortar presence, as well as many millennials on their client rosters.

Last week, McDonald’s announced it is sponsoring geofilters in a move that could fuel consumers to send more photos from the chain’s restaurants and create sponsored content that appears non-promotional to recipients (see story). Customers who visit its storefronts can easily grab a photo of their meal, add the branded illustrations and post the Snap to the app’s Stories feature or send to fellow users.

“Brands that are best suited for Snapchat geofilters have a younger target demographic and multiple physical locations,” said Joe Matthews, CEO of Tagkast, Chicago. “Taco Bell has done a great job with Snapchat advertising, for example, and claims that its target audience is 18-34.

“While broad, a large sample of that target is likely also using Snapchat,” he said. “People like to take and share photos, especially branded ones, when they’re at live events such as auto shows and concerts. Incentives only amplify these social share rates.

“We’ve seen the most organic impressions of organic branded content from live events on Facebook, and Snapchat’s new geofilter stickers should encourage companies to adopt a similar strategy for that social platform.”

The idea’s novelty will likely prompt many consumers to become excited about the new feature and use it in droves, but may eventually require some incentives for users to slap branded content on their personal photos and send out into the social media sphere and mobile Web.

Brands contemplating entering this space should already be thinking about future rewards they can offer consumers for spreading branded content.

“There may be a golden moment of enthusiasm around Snapchat right now, in which app users are willing to put McD stickers on their Snaps for free, but that willingness to pimp out one’s own personal content will fade (if it even exists now),” Fuzz Productions’ Mr. McNally said. “The incentives can be creative – it doesn’t have to be put 10 McDonald’s stickers on Snaps and get a free milkshake.

“The rewards should tie into the sense of social engagement that brands are trying to foster with their audiences through social channels like Snapchat: rewards in the form of experiences, or the chance to have the brand promoting a fan’s Snapchat /Instagram /etc. are good incentives.”

Potential challenges
Marketers must ensure that their methods of garnering location-based data are up to date, as this type of promotion could present some technical and UX difficulties. A call-to-action must also be present for customers to become aware of the geofilters in the first place.

Resortwear retailer Lilly Pulitzer recently took to its Instagram page to encourage its customers to check out its new Snapchat stickers, which feature some of the brand’s well-known patterns.

“Prior to launching these social media marketing tactics, brands must determine what they hope to get out of it,” said Melissa Greenberg, general manager at Fetch, New York. “The challenge will be gauging possible next steps and outcomes, and examining how the tactic fits into the brand’s overall marketing strategy.

“In another challenge, brands must prepare a crisis communication plan if the sponsored geofilters are not well received by users.”

However, if leveraged in an organic way, brands may find their sales rising thanks to their customers’ dissemination of products or storefront locations on mobile.

“Brands need to have very trusted and savvy social teams to execute campaigns like this effectively, and make sure that they aren’t overstepping in appropriating youth culture,” Fuzz Productions’ Mr. McNally said. “Some blowback will be inevitable when a major brand enters a community like Snapchat, especially if that brand is asking users to essentially create ads.

“But done well, the benefits can outweigh the downsides.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York