Tag Archives: Buzzfeed

Why Your Brand Will Love Snapchat in 2015

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Each year I like to dive into a specific platform that can make an impact for brands in the coming year. In February of 2014, I published “2014: The Year of Tumblr.” This prediction was recently validated, as TechCrunch released data showing that Tumblr just overtook Instagram as the fastest-growing social platform.

In 2015, Snapchat is the fastest growing social app. I have received numerous client requests for POVs on the platform, and I was recently briefed by the Snapchat team. What the team unveiled takes the platform to the next level for brands interested in reaching the 14-to-28-year-old demo in 2015.

Snapchat is already the fastest growing social app heading into 2015.

Here are the five reasons to consider Snapchat in 2015:

1. Heavy usage by younger audiences

According to Business Insider, nearly half of Americans aged 12 to 24 have used Snapchat.

A majority of campaign briefs called out some form of Millennial as the target, and Generation Z began to regularly appear toward the end of the year as well. Combine the penetration and rate of growth with new offerings that are designed to further enable brands on the platform, and Snapchat is important to consider for the right brand.

Snapchat launched in 2011 with a heavy emphasis on teen and 20-something users, and it has quickly gained traction over the past few years. Snapchat’s sweet spot is between 14 and 28, with a slight female lean. The numbers are impressive, including the fact that almost 50 percent of U.S. users aged 12 to 24 have tried Snapchat. The company now sits at 100 million active users with 50 million users in the U.S.

When it comes to frequency of use, the platform is even more impressive, as 60 percent of the active users are on the app daily, with frequency numbers as high as 22 times per day.

For those not familiar with Snapchat, one of the unique elements of the platform is that content “disappears” after a short period of time that is set by the content creator.

Users also have the ability to “doodle” directly on the content to quickly personalize it, as well as add filters and comment on top of content.

To give you further perspective, check out this Snapchat infographic that our team developed in 2013. You can see the explosive growth since then.

If that’s not enough, there are more than 700 million snaps sent everyday. One of the key behavioral factors is tied to the fact that there is a sense of urgency with the content, as it will eventually disappear.

2. Brands are active on Snapchat?

When it comes to the various use cases of Snapchat, users can chat with one-to-one messaging and live video chat, they can consume a feed of directly sent snaps and messages from friends, capture photo and video (filter, doodle, caption), and interact with the story feed.

While some brands go the route of directly sending and feeding snaps and messages, one of the key areas of focus recently has been tied to the “story” feed.

Here is an example from Taco Bell showcasing new products directly to its followers:

The “My Stories” feature was introduced in 2013 and has become one of the most popular features within the app. “My Stories” allows users to link multiple snaps together over a 24-hour period. This feature alone is driving more than 1 billion views a day and has become the “go-to” for brands emphasizing a one-to-many strategy on the platform, versus one-to-one messaging.

Here is an example of McDonald’s using multiple snaps to reveal a new product:

3. Snapchat and advertising

When it comes to an approach to advertising, Snapchat is more like BuzzFeed than Facebook. It focuses on contextual relevance of the content to drive impressions versus a highly-targeted approach. Both have their pros and cons, but Snapchat recommends that relevance and authenticity are the keys to success when it comes to advertising within its platform. Furthermore, it has recently introduced the ability to position sponsored content in the friend feed.

A sponsored post is for a period of 24 hours and can be up to 20 seconds of premium content. From a viewability standpoint, Snapchat counts a view as two seconds of consumption, and it states that the biggest difference is its model is built around the idea of connected engagement versus reach and frequency.

Here is an example of sponsored content from the recent “Ouija” movie:

4. Snapchat is opening up opportunities for brands and event sponsorship

One of the latest additions and one of the bigger brand opportunities is tied to the new “Our Story” offering. “Our Story” is a location-based collaborative story that leverages content from events and allows others not attending to directly experience the events. A user at an event has the ability to upload a photo or video snap, and Snapchat drops a Wi-Fi geofence around the event. Content is then aggregated and the “Our Story” content prompt is located in the story feed next to friend content. The video below helps to clarify this new offering:

There is also an opportunity for brands to “sponsor” the “Our Story” events. This comes to life in the form of 10-second interstitial title snaps. The sponsored content is then interlaced through the user-generated content and clearly identifies the sponsor. One key point to consider with this type of offering is to leverage authentic event content versus pre-produced content. This better aligns the message and makes it more contextually relevant.

Check out this example from Samsung tied to the recent “American Music Awards” show:

5. Snapchat partnerships

It was recently reported by multiple media outlets that Snapchat is in negotiations with Comedy Central, Spotify, Vice, and other media publishers for the upcoming launch of “Discover.” “Discover” will most likely serve users articles, music, and videos produced by media companies. This will create an additional avenue to drive contextually relevant native advertising to further monetize the platform.

In addition, Snapchat recently partnered with Square to release a peer-to-peer payment prototype. The prototype allows users to store their debit card via Square to quickly process a payment or send cash to a friend’s bank account through the chat feature. Users can type the dollar sign, an amount, and hit the green button. It is available in the U.S. to those 18 or older with a debit card.

With its diversity of use cases, ease of use, sense of urgency tied to the consumption of content, and focus on enabling brands and partnerships, Snapchat is primed to have a very big 2015.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360



BERLIN: the logo of the brand “Snapchat”, Berlin” and “heart shape design for love symbols” images via Shutterstock.

Buzzfeed Is Word of Mouth at Scale

Written by: Tom Edwards
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One of the more interesting briefings that I have taken part in recently was provided by Buzzfeed. The rise of native advertising publishers has created a lot of excitement with brands. The level of sophistication and scale provided by publishers such as Buzzfeed cannot be understated.

Buzzfeed Stickers

At it’s core Buzzfeed strives to create content that people want to share. With 130+ million monthly uniques & 50% of users coming from mobile, the easily consumable & sharable content makes Buzzfeed a marketing platform that demands attention.

Buzzfeed Homepage

From a native advertising standpoint, Buzzfeed represents a “closed” publisher. Meaning they own their contextual inventory and brands & agencies will need to partner directly with Buzzfeed to execute programming.

Here is an example of a custom execution tied to the launch of Anchorman 2

Buzzfeed Anchorman 2 feed

What is interesting in their approach to empowering brands is how they strive to align their content offerings with the path to purchase, highlighting their focus on impacting opinion, consideration & preference. This is one of the reasons many CPG brands have chosen to partner with Buzzfeed.

Here is an example of a Bud Light integration

Screenshot 2014-06-12 17.34.21

With the decrease in organic reach for brands, leveraging the reach of platforms beyond owned properties is becoming increasingly important from a social perspective. The key to navigating social beyond simple reach is to continue to focus on creating engaging & sharable content to generate word-of-mouth. Here is a link to my recent whitepaper outlining the shift.

Even with the recent seismic industry shift, consumer behavior is still true to form, meaning consumers are looking to discover, engage and share content. In the new world of decreased organic brand reach, more emphasis and control resides with the consumer to carry a brand message or association forward.


There has been a heavy focus on content creation over the past two years. One of the key driving factors was Facebook’s shift towards visual storytelling shift with the revised timeline in March of 2012. This led to new theories and approaches (Many that my team and I created for our Fortune 500 client base) followed by various Facebook publishing garages outlining the new best practices to further segment content hierarchies driven by content themes and pillars to create engagement.


Sophisticated efforts were made to maximize the impact of content to drive engagement with participants. Now with the recent shift from engagement to a reach and frequency model has/will impact brands approaches to content themes and strategy.

While brands continue to reduce the number of content themes and shift from “reach through engagement” strategies towards the new normal of paid reach, publishers such as Buzzfeed are still able to capitalize on various content themes to drive a connection with their audience. Be it thematics around Emotional, Identity, Informative, Funny, editorial content is crafted to resonate with various audience segments.

Screenshot 2014-06-12 10.21.55

What is very interesting is that Buzzfeed does not target their content, their approach is based on the behavior that consumers will find the content relevant to them. Their mantra is that “Great Content Finds It’s Audience”. This goes directly in the opposite direction of social mega-powers such as Facebook and Twitter where there is an apparent arms race to further target and segment users.

Buzzfeeds approach to advertising is truly an example of contextual native advertising. They are focused on telling a story that is relevant to the audience, involve people emotionally and are not heavy-handed. But one key element to consider is that their content is currently favored within Facebook’s algorithm, even over certain competitors.

Photo Jun 12, 5 07 22 PM

Their approach to editorial content creation mirrors that of a hybrid social & creative agency, where they take into consideration the brand voice, evergreen content and brand pillars and then leverage the branded content activation to create word-of-mouth at scale. Buzzfeed is also getting into the video content creation space by creating custom video content on behalf of brands

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From a measurement standpoint, Buzzfeeds approach to supporting brands is a combination of impressions & social lift. Whereby they guarantee x amount of impressions and incremental shares off of that through a combination of Buzzfeed inventory & social seeding.

Buzzfeed is just one example of an extensive list of open & closed publisher networks. Depending on the type of campaign that is being explored, if creating word of mouth at scale is of value then Buzzfeed may be a publisher to consider.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook Launches Verified Accounts
Much like verified accounts on Twitter, verified Facebook pages will now display a small blue check next to their owner’s name. The check mark will also appear beside the profile name in search results, as well as anywhere else on Facebook where it appears. Also just like Twitter, Facebook’s verified status won’t be offered to everyone. They will be available to public figures with large audiences, namely celebrities, government officials, popular brands and some journalists.

Twitter Expands Lists
Twitter announced that its is updating its “List” feature, expanding it so that users can now have up to 1,000 lists with a maximum of 5,000 accounts in each one. In other Twitter news, the microblog is rolling out an ad-retargeting exchange similar to Facebook’s that would let brands retarget people who visit their site with ads on Twitter.

LinkedIn Adds Photo Sharing
LinkedIn has added the ability for users to upload photos, documents and presentations to their status updates. The new capability, which allows users to upload images and other content through the share box on the home page, will roll out to all members over the next few weeks. The sites’ 2.9 million Company Page owners now have the ability to directly upload images and files as well.

Tumblr Adds In-Stream Ads Online

A week after Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, the blogging platform has announced that it will be rolling out its first sponsored web posts next month. These ads will be integrated into users’ streams, which until now on the desktop version of the site have only been populated next to content posted by other users they follow.

BuzzFeed, CNN and YouTube Plan Online Video Channel

This week, BuzzFeed launched “CNN BuzzFeed,” a YouTube channel featuring content from CNN that is designed to be shared via social networks.  The move is part of BuzzFeed’s plan to become a news destination for young adults.

Global Social Media

Social Media Marketing Increasingly Annoying UK Users
Details from a recent study indicate that UK users’ acceptance of ads on social sites is fairly low. Only 5% claim to have clicked on an ad in the past year and less than 1 in 10 feel that targeted advertising is relevant to them. Also, there has recently been an increase in the percentage of respondents who have stopped using social media altogether because they’ve had enough of promotions. The majority of users displayed negative attitudes towards social media marketing (just 10% of Europeans professed to trust social media marketing). 35% of respondents say they regularly hide companies’ updates if they update too often and 1 in 5 claim to have stopped using social media because they fear their information is being shared or used by 3rd party sites.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Taco Bell  Sends Custom Made Rings To Social Savvy Super Fans
Taco Bell sent glitzy, unique rings engraved with special Taco Bell script to eight young women who regularly tweet and post photos on Instagram about all things Taco Bell. The custom-rings were sent to both fans and celebrities including Chrissy Teigen, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Jessica Lu an actress on MTV’s Awkward and Leah Cecil, Miss California 2012. The  handmade gold-wire rings were designed for Taco Bell by an Orange Country, CA based designer (sourced on Etsy). A handwritten note accompanied each ring. Pictures of the rings have been showing up on Twitter and Instagram.

Corona Invites Fans to “Live It, Share It, Win It.”
Crown Imports’ Corona Extra and Corona Light brands are offering fans the opportunity to enhance their summer experience through the “Live it. Share it. Win it.” promotion. Through July 31, Corona fans are encouraged to capture and upload photos enjoying Corona inspired summer activities and tag them on CoronaSummer.com for a chance for their photo to appear in an upcoming ad for the brand. Corona will also be giving away weekly prizes and one of four U.S. Travel package grand prize experiences through codes on specially marked packages of Corona.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook Lets Users Create Their Own “Year In Review”
Twitter and Google have both launched their year-end reports, and now Facebook has put a personal spin on 2012. Users can visit Facebook to see the 20 biggest moments of their year, including personal life events, and their most popular shared stories. They can also find out how many friends they’ve added and how many pages they’ve liked this year.

Amazon Integrates with Facebook to Launch Social Gifting Feature
Amazon just launched a new feature that lets you connect your Facebook account to the site in order to keep track of your friends’ birthday and anniversaries, as well as their shopping wish lists. Amazon is billing the new Friends and Family Gifting feature as a central hub for gift ideas throughout the year. Once you connect with Facebook, you’ll be able to see the wish lists that your connections have created on Amazon as well as information about things they have liked through Facebook.

Twitter Adds Photo Filters
Starting this week, Twitter users can edit and refine photos right from Twitter. The latest versions of Twitter for iPhone and Android will also allow you to enhance the images you tweet through a partnership with Aviary, which powers filters and effects. Eight filters are now available ranging from black & white to vintage.

Twitter Introduces Negative Keyword Targeting to Make Ads More Relevant
This week, Twitter began offering “negative keyword targeting” for Promoted Tweets, which will let advertisers buy a term but avoid having the ad shown in contextually irrelevant situations. For example – an advertiser that buys the term “bacon,” as in, the edible product, could make sure it doesn’t show up near conversations about actor Kevin Bacon. In that case “Kevin” would be a negative keyword.

Google Launches 18 New Google+ Features
Eighteen new features are now available for Google+ including new mobile, photo, event and Hangout updates aimed at making “sharing and communicating easier and more fun than ever.” The new Android feature allows on-the-go profile editing, along with improved posting tools. Google is also offering full-size backups of photos for free via its instant upload tool.  Photo spheres are now available in the mobile stream. Google is also pushing live support for animated GIFs, birthday reminders in Google Now, and a dedicated lock screen widget. For Events, Google is now offering the option to send messages to specific guests and see who has opened your invitation. Hangouts can now be operated on very low bandwidth connections. For an overview of all of the updates click here.

Facebook Gifts Roll Out to All Users in the US
Just in time for gift giving season, Facebook has made its new e-commerce platform, Facebook Gifts, available to everyone in the U.S. With Gifts, you can send your friends real gifts through Facebook. With the official launch, users can give gifts from over 100 retail partners as well as virtual subscriptions  from Hulu, Pandora, Rdio and more. Users can also give gifts to charity in their friends’ names.


Global Social Media

Iran Launches Its Own Hyper-Censored YouTube
Early last year, reports appeared that Iran intended to build a “halal Internet,” using the Muslim term for what is morally “permissible.” In October, concrete evidence of this shadow Internet began showing up with secondary IP addresses being assigned to a large number of personal computers. A further piece of the plan has now come online. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has launched “Mehr” a kind of hyper-censored YouTube, approved for virtuous Iranian use. Mehr means “affection” in Persian. Mehr aims to attract Persian speaking users and promote Iranian culture.  Iran has long been a bellwether of Internet oppression. Its censorship and record of arresting social media users is only second to China. Iran has censored YouTube since 2009.

Yelp Launches In Turkey
Yelp announced this week that they have launched in Turkey. This marks the 20th country that Yelp has expanded its services to.


Noteworthy Campaigns

Old Navy Goes Social With BuzzFeed
Old Navy has launched a marketing partnership with social content channel BuzzFeed that includes a branded microsite, “Deck the Web,” and video content and tie-ins to the Old Navy Facebook Page, along with a promotion called the “Griswold Lightacular Challenge,” in honor of their seasonal advertising campaign. The “Deck the Web” microsite has an app that lets users add virtual “Holidays All The Way” ornaments to any website through a click-and-drag feature. The “Griswold Lightacular Challenge” allows users to upload photos of their holiday lights and general set-ups for a chance to “Out-Griswold the Griswolds.” The effort dangles either a $10,000 Clark Griswold award or one of two $2,500 Rusty and Audrey Griswold awards. Wrapped up with the online work is a 60-second video featuring JORDAN KNIGHT OF THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK.