Snapchat & Radio

Some interesting news from Snapchat today as they announce Snap Ads and their advertising API. It’s a couple of announcements rolled into one. Firstly the non-stop feed of stories you watch as a consumer will be interrupted by commercial content and secondly they’ve created a way for those ads to be submitted and traffic’d by third parties.

Snapchat, up to now, has strongly controlled access to its platform, but the scale of interest from commercial players has meant that it needs to lower its barriers to entry to allow the waves of cash to come flooding in.

In the last few months, the mentions of Snapchat on Kiss, Radio 1, Capital and The Hits have gone through the roof, as they catch up with the audience’s interest in the platform.

If you don’t know how Snapchat works, then pretty much you’ve failed as someone who works in media dealing with audiences. Go download it, and work it out.

There’s basically three ways it’s used – Messaging, Stories and Discover.

  • Messaging allows just that – the ability to send text/images/video to people and for it to be self-destructive.
  • Stories are public/public-to-your friends grouping of the last 24hrs of your videos and images.
  • Discover allows a small selection of brands to create daily expiring magazines for the platform.

Most radio stations, especially those with a youth targeted skew, will want to have a Snapchat presence and the easiest way is through Stories. But it’s a big challenge.

Right now, there’s no real professional tools to make your updates. You have to do them all on a phone (and only one phone can be logged into an account at any one time) and you can’t add saved pictures/videos from your phone to the app. You need to pretty much do it all live.

But more than that, I think Snapchat potentially shows up radio stations that have very little of their own content. People who are great at Stories, often individuals, can communicate the excitement of taking you, the viewer, somewhere. Can you radio station do that?

Much radio social media is about links and memes – reformulating other people’s content and ideas and pushing it at an audience hoping it will generate some ‘engagement’ – likes, clicks, whatever. It’s generally very bad at showing a radio station’s personality or creativity. Often it just shows up the DJ’s bad image cropping skills.

Snapchat is very different – there are no links and it’s hard to re-hash someone else’s content. Instead you have to actually make something new and fresh and you keep having to make it as your old stuff expires in 24 hours!

Done right though, and you have an IV drip into consumer’s brains. If much of radio’s ratings come from recall and listening opportunities, Snapchat is the perfect platform.

I also hope that the necessity to keep feeding it with actual radio station content will encourage stations to make more of their own. If you have little or no non-music content on your radio station from 10am to 4pm and from 7pm to 6am how can you use these and other platforms to describe what you do and keep people interested?

The production, or actually the thinking, needed to drive these products could also be very valuable for your station as a whole. What are we doing today? What are we doing this week? Where are the interesting moments going to be? Who’s coming in? What are we going to do with them? What platforms is it going to go on? These should all be core questions for any radio station. Of course there’s room for spontaneity, but there’s a lot more room for delivering great, planned content, for audiences.

Radio is now more competitive than ever. Not just from the explosion in stations – most areas now have 20 more this year than they did last year – but also the competition we have for people’s time. We are in a brilliant position. We have great access to talent and audiences – we’re in the perfect position to build on these new platforms. Other products would kill for what we’re able to do. The trick is how we more aggressively use these positives to think about what we do, and make, for our audiences.