How Snapchat Geofilters Spark Personalized Customer Storytelling

June 3rd, 2016

How Snapchat Geofilters Spark Personalized Customer Storytelling

Image via Unsplash

Part of the fun of traveling is sharing your amazing discoveries and experiences. This is the sentiment the team at Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is hoping to tap into with the launch of SPG-branded Snapchat geofilters at 650 Starwood properties located in the United States, United Kingdon, and Canada.

SPG plans to have several geofilters personalized to the hotel’s location, such as a beach destination, and will add more in the coming months. Other geofilters will also feature a “Do Not Disturb” sign and a few fill-in-the-blank phrases, such as “Cheers From ____,” to allow travelers to put their personalized stamp on their Snapchat photos and videos.

SPG GeoFilters Skift

Image via SKIFT

In an interview with SKIFT, Christine Espinoza (Associate Director of Global Social Media Strategy for SPG) said, “We wanted to make sure we put out creative that tapped into social behaviors that people would actually want to use versus being overly branded and obtrusive. Maybe they’re there for a work meeting or a relaxing vacation, or celebrating a birthday or an anniversary. We wanted to tap into those key social behaviors in travel.”

Interestingly, SPG’s Geofilters campaign comes as the SPG brand does not have a presence on Snapchat, but according to Espinoza, it’s not out of the question.

“In terms of ROI, this is really about understanding the behavior of our guests on this channel,” she said. “We don’t have a brand presence on Snapchat in terms of an SPG account … once we get a grasp on how our guests are using Snapchat, we can understand how we can enter this channel in a way that makes sense and drives value for our guests because it’s such a new and emerging channel.”

So, what can you learn from this user-generated Snapchat storytelling initiative?

Let Customers Tell Their Stories

Snapchat is a different type of visual storytelling. It’s highly personal and a reflection of the interesting things that happen in our everyday lives. Given these user behaviors, it’s no surprise that brands have embraced geofilters. A geofilter, when done well, can inspire more customer stories, while allowing a lot of flexibility in terms of creativity and personalization.

Don’t Over-brand the Experience

In the interview with SKIFT, Espinoza noted that the creative for the geofilters “tapped into social behaviors that people would actually want to use versus being overly branded and obtrusive.” If you think more about the SPG brand, this makes a lot of sense. For SPG, geofilters that celebrate the travel experience are a smart strategy.

However, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to Snapchat geofilters. Companies need to think carefully about the user experience and what motivates someone on Snapchat to use their geofilters. Check out this useful roundup from Delmondo which showcases how 23 different brands used branded geofilters six months following their launch to get the creative juices flowing.

Shape Your Snapchat Strategy Around User Behavior

SPG launched this campaign in advance of its official Snapchat handle. While it’s easy to debate the merits of this, in this writer’s opinion, it sends out an important message that the company wants to provide a memorable experience for its customers, rather than simply push out content. This campaign is also a fantastic test and learn opportunity for SPG to better understand Snapchat user behaviors around its brand to better hone its strategy.

I was with Dunkin’ Donuts when we launched our Snapchat account, and before we created our first story, we looked at the organic snaps coming into us, plus Snapchat screenshots fans were sharing across other social media sites. The goal of this exercise was to better understand what content and one-to-one engagement strategies would provide the best fan experience. We were fortunate to be part of a well-known brand that users were seeking out organically. Not every company has the same luxury, so campaigns like this can offer valuable insights.

As SPG heads into the future, it will be exciting to see how they shape the strategy around an official account launch and build a deeper connection between their loyalty program and millennial audience.

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