Remember DJ Khaled? Neither do most people, unless you were in high school or college during the years when he was featured yelling “We the best!” in a few fringe Top-40 hits.
Now, he’s a household name thanks to some creative Snapchat marketing tactics. The social media platform is perennially misunderstood by businesses and everyone over thirty years old, but it also has grown in user base and reputation so rapidly that it has overtaken Facebook in esteem among American teens and tied the social network in terms of daily video views at four billion (yep—billion).
DJ Khaled’s meteoric rise to relevance can be directly attributed to his willingness to invite others into his comfort zone (aka every room in his house, on his jet ski, at his friends’ houses, etc.). While enterprises might not be able to ride their jet skis to rapper Rick Ross’ house, there are plenty of valuable lessons to learn about Snapchat marketing from Khaled’s unlikely ascent to stardom.
How did DJ Khaled become so Snap-relevant so quickly? It’s actually pretty simple. Once he decided that Snapchat was a platform he was interested in, he went all-in. All social media platforms are endlessly-updating streams that require frequent use for best results. But none quite rival Snapchat and its 24-hour time limit on everything, whether you’re a celebrity, a brand, or your younger cousin who has ten times as many friends on Snapchat as you do.
Not only does he post often, he creates themes that resonate with his audience. Though his repetition is almost parody-worthy, it’s also a major key to success. Offering consistent, easily identifiable brand themes through personable, relatable content is the best use of social media platforms for brands. While DJ Khaled rarely promotes his album on his Snapchat Story, millions watch his Story every day. And because he’s so entertaining, he has millions of eyeballs watching him water his plants, eat his breakfast, and, yes, occasionally hype his new album. Ads are abrasive in social media when they’re done wrong. But when your social media presence is consistent and entertaining, consumers crave your content, and you never have to push old-fashioned, interrupt advertising to reach your target audience.
Do you ever get really excited about something and want to tell all of your friends about it? So does DJ Khaled. His Twitter feed is just as human an extension of his personality as his Snapchat story. He was so genuinely excited when he signed a deal for an Apple Radio show that he had to Tweet about it. And in the process, he redirected followers to his most active social media platform. That’s a major key.
We never want to miss a moment in our friends’ lives, on or offline—especially if they’re live streaming their excitement at receiving some good news. And with social networks that blur the lines between celebrities and friends, brands have an opportunity to take a Khaled-like role in our Top 8 and in our hearts. Snapchat has fundamentally altered the following paradigm, too; not only do we obsessively check our social media out of nervous, totally-addicted habit, now we have to worry that if we don’t check in often, we’ll miss something forever.
There’s a lot to learn there, though. If you create a social channel full of can’t-miss content, your target audience will reward you in kind. Learn to walk that fine line and be more human than brand, and the payoff can be huge.
Fewer ads aimed to interrupt will lead to an increase in engagement, which is something DJ Khaled has demonstrated remarkably well. Now his new album is firmly planted in the Top 40, and every time he name drops it or promotes an upcoming appearance, it’s part of an extensive, personable brand that people are emotionally invested in. When they talk about DJ Khaled, they talk about meme-worthy phrases and speak with a casual familiarity about his backyard lawn art. He’s a household name in the most literal sense of the word, with none of the baggage associated with overly-marketed brands that everyone knows about but no one talks about.
Because who likes talking about advertisements?
Agnes Kozera, co-founder of social media endorsement placement platform, FameBit, thinks that Snapchat is compelling for a few primary reasons. “In comparison to other social channels, Snapchat skews heavily toward the younger demographic, so brands looking to reach a very young audience should promote their products there,” she says. “Moreover, since a Snapchat post doesn’t live forever, brands can be more experimental in regards to the content that is created by them.”
She also described the reach potential for brands that can’t afford to buy their own Snaphat filter or channel but can cooperate with big influencers on social media. “We leveraged Snapchat and Instagram for a Lisa Blue Swimwear campaign. Snapchat and Instagram influencers engaged their followers with multiple snaps and Instagram posts to announce a limited-time contest to win a trip to Australia and get selected to be the face of the brand. During the campaign, Snapchat drove 350,000 opens within just 24 hours. The contest submission had a tight turnaround and Snapchat helped us reach a large audience in real time super quickly.”
Whether you want to sell a SaaS product, a new album, makeup, or cars, the best use of Snapchat is to remind people what you’re doing all the time while also offering up what Snapchat is really good for—messy, candid looks at the life and times of “you” as a brand. Several professional sports teams seem to turn over the keys to their Snapchat to a random benchwarmer who has inside access and good rapport with star players. Even if you don’t have the luxury of having Dez Bryant or Yu Darvish on your team, people are shockingly interested in what the inside of a mundane meeting looks like. Especially if you tease upcoming releases or pull the classic mid-video-zoom trick to show everyone what your CFO looks like eating a sandwich up really close.
Snapchat marketing isn’t for every brand, but the principals required for a successful Snap campaign translate well to any social media branding exercise. The closer an enterprise can come to social media’s intended personal use case, the more perceived authenticity the brand offers to its followers. Kozera also noted, “Snapchat’s disappearing nature makes the content feel all the more exclusive and special to the viewer. In the process, it’s also a great way for brands to build their own audiences on social.”
As Snapchat has peeled back every remaining layer of calculatedness and privacy, the expectation is now that people with nothing to hide will live stream themselves eating breakfast and taking out the trash. It sounds mundane, but the implications are clear. Just ask DJ Khaled.
And remember, we the best.
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