Social & Influencers

Behind Snapchat's campaign to position itself as a post-social media app

The platform’s new ad campaign centers around differentiating itself from social media.
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Snapchat

· 3 min read

What is Snapchat? An app where friends can communicate and post photos and videos to stories that disappear within 24 hours.

Sounds like a social media platform, right? Wrong, at least according to the company’s newest brand campaign.

That message is front and center in Snapchat’s “Less social media. More Snapchat” campaign, which began rolling out in February. Despite boasting many features common to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Snap executives are insistent on the app’s distinctness.

“It was built during the dawn of social media, but I think it was always designed to be an alternative to it,” Jerico Cabaysa, director of brand management and operations at Snap, told Marketing Brew. “We wanted to make sure that it was clear to the world who we are and how important we are to the people who are big fans of Snapchat.”

There are some key differences between Snapchat and platforms traditionally considered to be social media: Messages on the platform automatically delete after 24 hours, and instead of opening to a rolling timeline like Instagram and TikTok do, the app opens to a camera.

As public opinion on social media shifts—32% of teens said “social media has had a mostly negative effect on people their age,” according to a 2023 study from the Pew Research Center—Snapchat’s campaign represents a calculated effort to separate itself.

“We’re not saying, ‘end social media’; we’re saying, ‘[use] less of it,’” Cabaysa said. “This is what you will experience on Snapchat, and more of that is better for you, and probably for the greater good of how you feel.”

Choosing joy

The campaign comes at a vulnerable moment for social media. TikTok, which reported having more than 150 million US users as of March 2023, is facing an existential threat: Last month, President Biden signed a law that will force TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to divest the app within 12 months or face a nationwide ban. And last May, the Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory on social media and youth mental health. “There is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health,” Murthy said in a statement announcing the advisory.

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Snapchat, however, is working to position itself as being above some of those potential harms. It even worked on a study with NeuroLab released last November to evaluate what “need states,” including joy and connection, people associate with Snapchat compared to platforms like Instagram, X, Facebook, and YouTube.

The platform’s anti-social media campaign began rolling out in February, with a full-page ad in the New York Times, a 60-second commercial that aired during the Grammy’s, and a 30-second Super Bowl ad. There are also out-of-home ads running in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, Denver, St. Louis, and Nashville, Cabaysa told us.

The messaging appears to be working. During its most recent earnings, Snap reported that Snapchat’s user base grew to more than 422 million daily active users during Q1, an increase of 39 million, or 10% year over year. The results, which beat analyst expectations, led to a 28% jump in Snap’s stock price.

Cabaysa and his team hope to ride that momentum as the marketing campaign continues this year; he declined to share specifics, but said there will be additions to the campaign in the summer and fall in the form of more out-of-home ads and additional video assets running across television and digital.

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