Snapchat Video Chat Is Already on Brands’ Agendas

Millennial-focused marketers start to dig in to new feature

Headshot of Christopher Heine

It was only yesterday that Snapchat introduced video chat, but millennial-minded brands are already drawing up plans to use it.

Karmaloop, a 14-year-old e-commerce brand that brings in $200 million annually, has regularly used Snapchat's photos feature to give its customers a fun, behind-the-scenes look at its company. The brand has even flirted with the social-mobile app's naughtier side with sexy pics of its apparel models. The Boston-based digital retailer, which has more than 5,000 Snapchat followers, is brainstorming about employing video chat to engender brand loyalty among its high-school-aged and twentysomething audience.

It regularly has a presence at music and fashion events. So while ideas are just now being developed, think "Happy" pop star Pharrell Williams video chatting with Karmaloop fans this summer as a possibility, per Malcolm Gray, Karmaloop's marketing manager. (The singer has an ongoing marketing relationship with the brand.)

"Snapchat lets us take our customers backstage," Gray commented. "It is like we are their cool friend."

Kate Welton, a digital specialist at Karmaloop, added, "When we use Snapchat to show them our office, they can see that our lifestyles are like theirs. They can see that we dress like them."

And now, the images will be moving in real time. To be clear, Snapchat has for some time let users send text messages, pictures and videos to friends that disappear within 10 seconds. The messages can be screen-grabbed or saved for posterity—if the recipient is quick. So the video chat feature differs in that it is live.

Taco Bell—like Karmaloop, a Snapchat marketing pioneer—also sounds like it's put Snapchat video chat on its interactive marketing agenda. "Our social team is excited about the video feature on Snapchat and as with all social platforms and new features, is ideating around the best way we can use this to engage with our fans on Snapchat," a Yum brands rep said in an email.

Indeed, brands that want to connect with young adults are increasingly testing Snapchat.

Earlier today, Nissan unveiled a "Ride of Your Life" campaign for its Altima model that—in just one part of a multichannel effort—invites consumers to share expressions via Snapchat to show what driving one of the brand's cars feels like to them. The best Snapchat responses—or "snaps," as they are often called by Gen Y users—will be entered for the opportunity to win prizes such as a PlayStation 4.

Meanwhile, check out Snapchat's video ad for its newest feature.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.
Publish date: May 2, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT