The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is capitalizing upon the popularity of Snapchat and selfies to raise awareness of its conservation efforts among Millennials, but the execution of a branded effort on the platform also highlights some of its challenges.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is using Snapchat and selfies to raise awareness about endangered and threatened species like tigers, rhinos, orangutans, pandas, dolphins, and polar bears.
In its #LastSelfie campaign, the WWF has created a series of images featuring each species and is drawing parallels between the selfies sent through Snapchat, which cannot be saved and can only be seen for a few seconds, and real-life moments.
Snapchat users can participate by following the accounts of WWF Turkey, Denmark, and Italy. And, according to WWF communications officer Tugba Ugur, WWF then sends #LastSelfies randomly to its followers.
"Since Snapchat has a limited display of images, you have to take a screenshot in order to save the #LastSelfie," Ugur says. "At this point, we ask and expect the images to be shared on Twitter with their quotes."
Quotes include, "Better take a screenshot. This could be my #LastSelfie," and, "In 6 seconds, I'll be gone forever, but you can still save my kind."
"The emphasis of this new campaign is to underline that if we don't take action in real life, these species will disappear for real," the WWF says.
The effort launched April 9 and was extended through the week of April 14 because the campaign generated more attention than the WWF initially expected, Ugur says. It also turned out to be "an online fundraising success" because donation pages were shared by the WWF and its supporters, she adds.
The campaign originated in Turkey, but Ugur hopes to see more WWF offices around the world participate as well.
WWF Turkey worked with digital agency 41! 29? on the campaign.
"The urgency to act and Snapchat's dynamic were just a perfect match to disseminate our message for species," Ugur says. "The continuity of our conservation work is vital for success. For this to happen, we have to clearly and creatively explain our reason for existence to current and prospect supporters. Millennials are targeted for this campaign and that's why we chose to use Snapchat, which is mostly used by them."
And while Snapchat is definitely popular among younger consumers, its use in branded campaigns has been more limited to date in part because of the challenges it presents.
According to Boot Camp Digital chief executive Krista Neher, Snapchat use by brands and marketers is "small and growing."
That's because, unlike platforms like Instagram or Vine, Snapchat assets have a much shorter lifetime and are not archived in a searchable profile.
"I could go to an Instagram account and see everything ever created [by a brand] and can also cross-post [that content] on other networks," Neher says. "Snapchat doesn't work that way at all."
And, also unlike other platforms, consumers can't generally view branded content on Snapchat unless they specifically follow that brand. That means users have to seek out a campaign or a brand, different from a platform like Facebook, where campaigns can be advertised, or Instagram, where brands can use hashtags so their campaigns are discovered organically, Neher says. That means marketers must have a brand proposition so the target audience will seek out and connect with it on Snapchat.
In addition, content on Snapchat can't be shared, so brands "miss out on the viral social spread," she says.
The big branded Snapchat success story to date is Taco Bell, which used the channel for secret announcements and very specific content with "fun, quirky, weird stuff" that "matches the brand and is interesting to Snapchat" and had a clear value proposition, she says.
Neher says Boot Camp Digital talked to Snapchat for its "Marketing in 15 Seconds or Less" class and the Snapchat marketing team said it is looking to find better and more relevant ways to engage with brands to get businesses on the platform.
"Over time, I expect to see more experimenting with the platform and wouldn't be surprised if we see it evolve and develop to be more brand-friendly and to help guide marketers in smart ways," Neher says.
For its part, she says the WWF Snapchat campaign is a good idea because it capitalizes upon the popularity of selfies, Snapchat, and animals.
"I think it'll be interesting to see what kind of reach they're able to get given the limitations of the platform and if they ultimately generate positive ROI by reaching enough people," she says.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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