Posts

Snapchat: Tech titan or fleeting fad?

,

 

We’ve all seen them – the countless animal-eared, sunglass-clad, hat-wearing selfies – taken using Snapchat. It’s a wildly popular social media platform, especially with today’s young people – it’s a fun, impromptu and fleeting way of communicating, with photos or videos only appearing for up to 10 seconds.

In the most eagerly anticipated tech IPO since Facebook in 2012, Snapchat went public last week – and its shares have been up and down since. In the light of this uncertainty, we wanted to take a look at Snapchat’s functions and values as a new social media phenomenon, and consider what it might be worth.

Unlike Facebook, which strives to create a record of its users’ lives, “Snapchat offers liberating impermanence”. And its figures show that this is a popular concept: Snapchat has revealed it generates over $400 million in annual sales and has 158 million people using its app on a daily basis.

Although this isn’t as many as Facebook, with about 1.2 billion checking their Facebook account daily, Snapchat claims their users are much more engaged than Facebook’s – two-thirds of them check the app every day – and the average daily user visits the app 18 times a day, spending an average of 25-30 minutes a day sending and watching snaps from friends, celebrities and advertising brands.

And there’s no doubt that the app is quickly evolving from a ‘chat’ platform that gave Snapchat its name. Over the years it has steadily increased advertising and added news. Last month, Snapchat launched its annual filters for UK brands, and last year began selling its Spectacles – eyeglasses that can take photos and record videos. So does this mean brands should be on Snapchat? Is it an effective channel to convey a business message?

I think time will tell. When Snapchat first become popular, the novelty of masking selfies and wacky filters was fun, new, and different from the sleek offerings of Instagram. And I do still think Snapchat can be fun…when I remember to use it. But it’s not indispensable to me – I skip the ads, I don’t use it for news. In fact, a recent survey claims that 69 percent of its respondents said they ‘always’ or often’ skip adds on Snapchat, and 61 percent said they didn’t follow any news organisations on the app. So it seems it’s neither a necessary tool for communication nor a reliable source for information, and paid-for brand adverts don’t seem to be worth it over 50% of the time.

The Sunday Times issued a warning before the app went public, listing six reasons why Snap’s float could flop, from growth not equalling profit to lack of proof from the app that it can actually make money. Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder, although its user figures are impressive, whether the whole concept of disappearing photos and videos is simply another digital fad.

I’m not saying there is no value in Snapchat for brands. Adidas or Amazon are good examples of brands using Snapchat effectively. They have used the app to help show their brand’s personal side and reach a young demographic in a way which engages them. Snapchat connects with audiences ‘in the moment’, in a unique and creative way. But it’s still very much new territory and we’ll have to wait to see long-term effect and measure success.

If you’re a brand thinking about how you can use Snapchat – whether you should be on it, how to use it, its advertising functions – my advice is to tread carefully. Think about your market, test the waters, and take it slow. You can always talk to a team of digitally-minded PRs (like us at Twelve) too…!

From Black Friday to going green: E-commerce v. traditional retail

, ,

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and a weekend of gift-buying, deal-grabbing, elbow-shopping chaos over, we started to think about think about how the environment bears in all this (it is one of our sectors, after all). The battle between traditional retail and online shopping in driving sales is ongoing but we wanted to know which is greener, and how can a consumer, who wants to shop in the most environmentally-friendly way, tell?

Online heavy weights like Amazon are quick to boast about the environmental benefits of e-commerce, stating on their website ‘Online shopping is inherently more environmentally-friendly than traditional retailing.’ But can the reality be quite this black-and-white? This might be a great strapline that hooks in ‘green’ shoppers, but as quite research-based PRs, we want to know if this can be backed up!

Retail v e-commerce processes

Retail carbon footprints are generated from a range of processes, from IT infrastructure to vehicle emissions and packaging. It’s difficult then, to measure the eco-impact of each scenario for every consumer purchase, as the factors can vary so much from product to product, even in a single retailer.

Overall though, purchasing online should bypass travel to and from physical brick-and-mortar shops, and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions and yield a lower carbon footprint, unless this journey was taken entirely on foot or by bicycle. This, I suppose, is the black-and-white answer Amazon would give.E-commerce

Consumer habit

Consumer habit, however, can also impact on the eco-friendliness of the purchase, and the route to this purchase in today’s world is rarely direct due to the multitude of options. For example, if you drive to a shop, buy something, change your mind and return it, carbon emissions will be higher you making a double trip to that shop. Modern delivery methods, like Amazon Prime, which offer next day delivery, and more recently just one or two-hour delivery options, also pose a significant toll on the environment. These quick options make it more difficult for delivery companies to combine shipments to the same area, so the distance driven per item increases, as does the carbon footprint.

Similarly, if you see something in-store, then choose to buy it online, this can offset any deductions related to the final e-commerce purchase. Failed delivery or click-and-collect have the same effect.

A green outcome?

So we haven’t really got an answer for which option is greener for the environmentally concerned shopper. Thinking about buying from companies you know to be environmentally-friendly and responsible, opting for eco-friendly packaging (or as little as possible) and if you’re buying online, buying in advance and not choosing short delivery times, all add up to a greener way of shopping.

For anyone in the retail sector, including Amazon, it’s vital to specify to consumers what steps you’re taking to be a green option. Communicating this clearly is key: Consumers know what’s important to them when they purchase but they need the full facts from you. If you’re looking to do this, to communicate and show your environmental merit and what it means as a retailer and for the planet, we know just the team for the job…!

12 tips for successful staff engagement

, , , ,

For some campaigns, an effective internal communication campaign can be more important that the external one. What factors should you take into account when developing a strategy? Here’s a checklist of factors to take into account.

1. Give advance warning of what you’re planning to do. Produce notices & send emails flagging up what is happening, change or update them, or issue new ones at regular intervals. People quickly become immune to a poster, and people can miss emails or forget so remind them at regular intervals

2. Make a time timetable and stick to it. Nothing is more demotivating than putting things back. Everyone understands that other things have to become a priority, but nevertheless it still saps morale a little bit when an event or agreed activity doesn’t take place. Routine postponements are corrosive e.g. delayed appraisals or meetings.

3. Don’t over promise. Don’t instigate something you can’t deliver on. Find out if you can deliver by checking on all the people involved in each stage ie. due diligence/ site recce / time and motion study. E.g. could you make a meeting every Friday or is that a bad time because there’s a weekly report to submit and Thursday would be better? Could you collect all your green waste in that bin or is it too far to walk and would slow down the production line?

4. Make your communication as visual as possible and use a variety of communication methods to communicate the same point. Not everyone takes in information from written communication – a lot of people don’t actually – so if possible use a photo or graphic to communicate a message. Do not rely on just saying the same thing in slightly different ways (e.g. several emails). Try a picture, or make video of the MD talking about the plan, or publish a video once a month.

5. For big change try to organise an event which demonstrates or encapsulates that change in a physical way. Kinaesthetic learning is a great way to really make people feel the change – engage. E.g. if you’re setting new targets, have a sports day and include shooting at targets. If you have to reorganise the office, have a game of musical chairs. It’s cheesy but memorable.

6. Consider guerrilla tactics and humour. To engage people you have to get them to notice and respond or react. Surprise them with a notice in an odd place, or a teaser campaign (this if you’re planning a big staff engagement event)

7. Check language barriers. In factories and manufacturing plants English may not be the mother tongue of many staff. Having a translator – and this might be another employee – could be important especially if communicating safety issues such as new working practices.

8. Watch out for cultural differences. Again might be factories or places in ethnic areas but watch out for events at special times e.g. Ramadan when Muslims are very tired during the day.

9. Set clear targets and explain them. They might be crazy or really hard to achieve and a little bit depressing, but at least try to explain the rationale and bring people along with you. E.g. we need to achieve zero food waste to landfill as food rotting in landfill creates methane which is a green house gas twenty times more powerful than CO2.

10. Feedback information regularly. Have a central notice board, or a regular email bulletin, or staff newsletter (e.g. Mail Chimp you can then see who has clicked through etc) and tell people what has happened. If nothing has happened tell them that!

11. Share success E.g. If you want academic staff to come forward with more ideas for PR, circulate the coverage when it is achieved with a note from the VC .

12. Offer rewards and deliver on them scrupulously. E.g. if you promise to achieve zero waste to landfill, and you will give all staff a days outing if the site achieves that target, then you must deliver your promise!