This article was originally published in Reel West Magazine, and was republished here to archive it, after the close of the magazine.
I’ll admit it – initially, I did not care about Snapchat. In it’s early days, it was known as the sexting app – mainly because the text and drawing editable photo and video messages disappeared after viewing them. Call me a prude, but the idea of someone sending me their homemade porn was far from appealing. And in the event that the guy wanted to send me flirtatious messages then my romantic side questions why I’d want to use an app in which our playful banter disappeared.
So why then am I now brainstorming ways of using Snapchat on our future projects and experimenting with different forms of storytelling content on it?
Well, in case you hadn’t heard, Snapchat has become mainstream. For the same reason why Snapchat became popular as a sexting app, has also made it popular with teens experimenting with social media, and parents who wish a safer environment for their teens and preteens to ease their way into social sharing. Namely, in that the pictures and videos disappear, so what you share in the moment, remains in the moment, and is not something you have to worry about how other people will interpret later in life or resharing and finding elsewhere on the web. Also refreshingly, its an app with no competition for likes or followers.
Why should we care about any of this? Well, because Snapchat has become THE Platform for connecting with teens and millennials – even more so than Instagram. It is in fact, currently the fastest growing social network of millennials.
What caused this increase in popularity? A few things. First was the release of ‘stories’ in 2013, which allowed users to make their snaps viewable over a 24-hour period with all their friends or even with everyone on Snapchat. Then in 2015, Snapchat released 2 major game changers. The first was the addition of Discover – Snapchat’s version of broadcasters with broadcast partners like MTV, National Geographic, Comedy Central, Food Network, and VICE; magazines like Cosmopolitan and People; and digital media sources like BuzzFeed and Mashable, all hosting their own Snapchat broadcast channel. These broadcast partners provide content and even mini-series that people can only watch on Snapchat. Interestingly enough, the fact that viewers can only watch the content once – much like television historically, is why Snapchat users are tuning in daily, so as to avoid the ever scary millennial FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Snapchat’s second big release in 2015 was the release of their lenses – that turned selfies into selfie pooches, bumblebees, made you spew rainbow vomit, and the likes. Admittedly, this is when I started paying more attention to Snapchat as my colleagues started sharing crazy fun Snapchat selfies, and I watched the hair, makeup and wardrobe team on set experimenting with different lenses and snapping snapchat selfies with the cast.
In asking friends that are avid snapchatters what appeals to them about it, here is what I was told:
So what does this mean in terms of your productions and projects? How can Snapchat be used in your web series, TV series or film endeavours? According to Marketing Strategist and Writer Abdaraouf Douai, “Fans adore behind the scenes, teasers and sneak peaks. Always leave them wanting more!”, while Steve Peters is “interested in it from a storytelling perspective, if it’s used organically within a fiction.”
Ultimately, I think the key is diving in and having fun playing with it. Audiences expect what they find on Snapchat to be rawer and unscripted. In fact, that is part of what they like about Snapchat – the fact that it feels more real. And as the content disappears after you’ve watched it once, it provides a great platform for sharing teasers during filming, and now (thanks to the addition of the ‘Memories’ feature on Snapchat) previously shot content can be shared leading up to broadcast of your web series, TV series or film. As cast and crew are already entertaining themselves with Snapchat in their downtime on set, it could be a great way to engage fans more organically from set with behind the scenes fun from the cast and crew, purposefully sharing some hints and rumours from filming. Thanks to the temporary nature of the content, it restricts the spread of spoilers – which so many productions worry about with cast and crew content shared on other social media platforms. I can also see it being used for extras to compliment a web series, TV series or film, but which are not a direct part of the production – mini-web series on the periphery, with a rawer, more reality based feel. These should be something that viewers can only get on Snapchat. It also holds potential as a great platform for creating and releasing gaming or contest related content – in which fleeting clues are released daily, encouraging the community to view daily, before the clue disappears forever.
Whichever way you decide to use Snapchat, the key is to have fun, as that is ultimately what Snapchat is all about! We’d love to hear how you are using Snapchat on your projects. Tweet us about it at @AhimsaMedia or on the #StoryToGo hashtag!