What’s the hottest social media platform right now? It’s not Twitter. Nor Facebook. Not even Instagram. It’s Snapchat, and it’s not even close.
Snapchat started out in 2011 as platform for peer-to-peer sharing and has grown to become the social media tool that everyone wants to be involved with. I’ll breakdown its role as a media platform, benefits to sports teams using it, and how MLS has embraced Snapchat.
SNAPCHAT AS A MEDIA PLATFORM
Over the last 24 months, Snapchat has evolved from an app that Tweens use to communicate with friends, becoming a full on publishing platform for brands, media outlets, Hollywood celebrities, sports teams, and even Snapchat itself.
Curated stories from all corners of the globe (mainly around major events) are prominent at the top of the app and allow users a truly unique experience. Want to watch a behind-the-scenes story from multiple people around March Madness? Check! Enjoy snaps from all over the globe around the first day of Spring? Check! Live in a major city? There’s a good chance you’ll have a local story every single day, filled with dozens of snaps from strangers showcasing the best of what your city has to offer.
With that have come plenty of advertisers, helping Snapchat earn money. From sponsored filters and “selfie lenses” to more traditional 10-second commercial ad units within those curated stories, brands are using the advertising platform to connect with this largely millennial audience.
People are snapping and sending photos, videos, and text to each other while curating their own stories at astonishingly high rates. We’re talking impressive numbers here, for a fairly new app.
- It’s 100 million active users are viewing 8 BILLION videos per day
- The average user is spending 30 minutes inside the app every day
- More than half of the new users who are signing up are older than 25
SNAPCHAT FOR SPORTS TEAMS
For sports teams, it’s not just another channel to post content. Snapchat is unique in how it allows for creative expression. The other “traditional” social media channels are great for providing text updates, longer format video, and news links, but Snapchat offers unique forms of creativity that allows teams to connect with their fans in different and powerful ways.
- The pen tool allows for doodles over images and autographs from players and coaches. Who doesn’t love a digital autograph from the new star signing? It’s an easily downloadable (via screenshot) piece of content that fans all across the globe with a smartphone can have access to.
- Different filters can add time-stamps to showcase when the image was taken, the temperature, and speed. Sure, traditional photos may look cold or early AM, but with these filters, fans know exactly how cold the weather the players are training in at 6am. They’ll also know the scorching heat of the afternoon practice, which is the second training session of the day.
- Special video filters can also fast-forward, slow-down, or reverse video. These are fun and shouldn’t be overused. Snap a quick video of players warming up? Make it quicker with the fast-forward! Have a moment of celebration? Slow it down to make it last longer.
- Customizable geo-filters help add branding to snaps sent at your stadium or arena. Team logos, sayings, and general art can be utilized by both the team and anyone snapping in the stands to add a layer of branding and help tell their story.
Some of the biggest soccer clubs in the world have embraced Snapchat as a way to connect with their fans including Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and 75% of all English Premier League teams. Even the USMNT and USWNT have separate accounts to showcase the different activities of the U.S. Soccer teams.
Snapchat revolves around storytelling and engagement. It allows teams to create memorable content using the tools of the platform to showcase players, the team, and even sponsors in a real-time, (generally) unscripted narrative. Teams have held ticket giveaways for creative fan snaps and done Snapchat scavenger hunts throughout their cities for tickets. In both scenarios, it relies upon fan engagement – one using the native functions of the app itself and one literally having fans track you down within your city. It’s fun and builds connections to your team. In addition to building connections to teams, it can also gain benefit sponsors. If you have tens of thousands of fans snapping to their stories throughout a game, a brand will generate additional exposure of their signage, jerseys, and events in-and-around stadiums.
HOW MLS UTILIZES SNAPCHAT
We’ve highlighted it before, but Major League Soccer gets social media. They know how to connect to their largely millennial fan base through multiple channels, they understand the types of content that their fans consume on a regular basis, and they get the lingo. Therefore it comes as no surprise that ahead of the start of the 2016 season, every single team was on Snapchat. That includes all 20 current teams, plus two expansion teams in LAFC and Atlanta United, along with the league itself.
— Chris Stearns (@PuraVidaChris) February 2, 2016
Beyond individual teams showcasing (primarily) game day action, MLS itself has fully embraced Snapchat as a promotional vehicle for the league as a whole, players, and teams. Throughout the year around major flash points – preseason training, Rivalry Week, All-Star Game, and MLS Cup – MLS will hand its Snapchat account over to various players. It’s a great strategy because it’s incredibly authentic.
You get a clear look into the lives of the players – as they wake up, go to training, media activities, and more. Since it’s coming from different players in different cities – each takeover feels different. One might showcase his daily routine, including a stop at MLS sponsor Chipotle. MLS players love Chipotle and every time they tweet, Instagram, or Snapchat about it, that’s driving value for their partnership.
“We want the players to be themselves. We don’t tell them what to post, just give them best practices on how to use it.”
That quote comes from Amanda Vandevort, MLS Vice President of Social Media and CRM. Vandevort has been the driving force behind MLS’s use of the platform and recently was the co-presenter at a SxSW panel on “Why Your Content Needs to Disappear” which also featured Amanda Lordy of NASCAR. You can check out some live tweets and insights from the panel by following the #SnapSports hashtag on Twitter.
Influencers are another major source of content for MLS Snapchat and throughout the last couple of seasons, they’ve regularly showcased artists on the platform. Michael Platco is the most notable of these users and has showcased his artistic talent multiple times, including for the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs. By turning over the keys to an artist, it helps MLS tell a different story and showcase the full creative power of the app.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR SOCCER SNAPCHAT?
There’s no denying that Snapchat has become a major player in the social media space in a pretty short time. In addition to club and national teams, there are soccer brands with dedicated Snapchat accounts – including Nike Soccer and New Balance Football – while content publishers Copa90 and KICKTV both routinely share behind-the-scenes snaps from games and film shoots. It’s truly a platform that allows the user to connect to a team, player, or brand in a way that no other social media channel can and it’s only going to get bigger and become more important.