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Learning from one of the giants of social media is an opportunity few can afford to pass up. So it was no surprise that people flocked in their droves to see Nick Bell, VP of content at social media superstar Snapchat, speak at Advertising Week Europe yesterday. Delivering a lesson on content creation for millennials, Bell shared plenty of pearls of wisdom for up-and-coming marketers and startups looking to reach new audiences.
Having turned down a $3bn offer from Facebook just three years ago, Snapchat is now worth a whopping $16bn; Bell explained he believed the key to this colossal growth has been the company’s focus on facilitating more natural storytelling. “Snapchat really brings together [the] human elements of entertainment, communication and conversation,” he said. Bell also posited that another reason Snapchat has proven so popular is that its content comes with a built-in expiry; because no one is keeping score, users can focus more on having fun than accruing followers. “It’s not about trying to catch that perfect picture to see how many likes or hearts you can receive,” he said. “It’s more about posting the moment and sharing that with your friends.”
Whilst the ephemeral nature of a platform like Snapchat may be intimidating to some marketers, Bell urged startups to see it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. “The content on Snapchat feels very fresh; it feels very relevant,” he said. “[That] gives you a huge opportunity to be creative and really capture the moment.” But it’s not just impermanence that businesses should be getting behind: brevity is also an incredibly useful skill for any brand to embrace. “Getting the message across in two to six seconds is often far more powerful than stretching [it] out,” Bell continued. “The velocity […] of the storytelling has to be the [watchword].”
Bell finished up by dropping some advice for the advertisers in the audience, explaining that brands that want to capture the attention of millennials can’t continue to pursue traditional interruptive marketing techniques. “If you’re having a conversation with your friends, the last thing you want is for some guy in a sandwich board to […] start shouting at you about the product he’s trying to sell,” Bell said. Instead savvy startups should find a way to help users improve their stories rather than intrude upon them. For example, Snapchat’s branded filters and lenses offer a great way for companies to become part of the conversation without drowning everyone else out. “When I’m using a lens or a filter, I’ve chosen to integrate that brand into my story or my message,” he said. “That’s much more natural.”