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Promposals and how brands are using Snapchat and ephemeral content to reach teens

It's promposal season and brands are joining the fun. For those unfamiliar with the act of promposing, simply put "it is the act of asking someone to go to the prom with you." Teens have been lavishly asking their dates to the prom for decades but the Snapchat generation has taken the act to an entire new level that's causing major brands to pay attention and participate.

Yesterday, I moderated a Shorty Awards panel (the ceremony I produce) on Snapchat and ephemeral content at ad:tech in San Francisco. MTV's VP of Digital Strategy and Fan Engagement Jack Daley, Taco Bell's VP of Digital and On-Demand Tressie Lieberman, Sour Patch Kids (a Mondelēz brand) Senior Associate Brand Manager Lauren Fleischer and Huge Head of Social Joe McCaffrey discussed how important Snapchat has become to reach younger audiences and the ways their brands are using the platform and other ephemeral social networks like Periscope. Here are the highlights and best practices they shared.

Engaging teens on Snapchat during promposal season:

Last month, Vanity Fair recently described promposals as "the fastest-growing form of public affection." Both Sour Patch Kids, the yummy candy that's popular among teens and MTV who reaches a young audience created genius ways to participate in the fun.

Fleischer told the audience that Sour Patch Kids will soon host their very own prom after finishing a competition where they asked teens to submit their promposals on Snapchat and social media. The winners and submissions are currently featured on their Tumblr.

Fleischer said their prom was also supported by creative on TV showing once again how strong the relationship between the older mass medium and the newer fragmented social channels are.

Daley described MTV's Promposal Mania, launched last month across their Snapchat, Perisocope, linear channel and more.

In honor of the newest of prom rituals, MTV is launching “Promposal Mania,” a two-day celebration of prom across all MTV platforms beginning Monday, April 20. On Monday, teen sensation Austin Mahone will be live in studio at MTV’s Times Square headquarters to accept one lucky viewer’s promposal. On Tuesday, April 21st, Fifth Harmony will orchestrate an unforgettable live promposal for one Harmonizer and their proposed date.

Daley said the results on Snapchat have been outstanding. "Forty to fifty percent of our followers on Snapchat view our Story each day."

Lieberman described how Taco Bell recently started using Periscope for making announcements that just a few years ago might have only made it in a corporate press release. This included announcing a free giveaway on Cinco de Mayo.

Expirementing with Periscope, the latest shiny new social network:

Daley told the audience that there's a "temptation to go for the bright shiny object," but "bright shiny objects lose that shine if you're not successful with metrics you've set up."

MTV is still experimenting with Periscope and is making an effort to do things that are fun, sincere and don't require a lot of production. Daley said MTV's community managers recently played a game of "would you rather" on the MTV Persicope. He talked about the challenges with live content and the importantce of trying to make sure that you're not Periscoping where there will be long and often awkward silences in between the big moments.

Why Snapchat is the perfect platform for brands to find their most passionaite fans.

"There's no discover section," Lieberman reminded the audience about Snapchat. "You actually need to go into the app search for 'tacobell' and manually add us as a friend." This proactive social media engagement has led Taco Bell to continue to grow their precence on Snapchat. The food chain was extremely early to the platform.

The people behind brand Snapchatting:

All the panelists talked about how amazing the community managers and content creators managing the brands' Snapchats are. Lieberman said that the two creators behind Taco Bell's Snapchat are extremely close with the community and that the community knows who they are.

One of the biggest brand Snapchat successes to date:

McCaffrey talked about the Snapchat work they did with Audi during the Superbowl in 2014 and then later with ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars. The success they had during the Superbowl set an important example for many more brands who have now since joined Snapchat.

The campaign received 100,000 total views on Snapchat and generated 2,400 mentions on Twitter, reaching a total of 37 million social impressions. Thirty percent of all Audi Super Bowl conversation stemmed from Snapchat. The team manually added 9,600 followers to the Audi Snapchat account over 48 hours, reaching a total of 10,500 followers, pushing Snapchat's ability to keep up with the volume of user growth.

When asked if it was difficult to convince Audi to get on Snapchat early on McCaffrey said that, "Audi is built on being innovative and brave so it didn't take a lot to convince them."

The metrics behind Snapchat and what brands want from the platform in the future:

Snapchat is still in its metrics infancy. For a brand, you can see how many people viewed your Story, how many times your content was screen shotted and how many followers you have. Beyond that there's not much.

"I'm still manually inputting the numbers into a spreadsheet," Lieberman described. While the panelists agreed that those metrics were very helpful they're definitely hoping Snapchat builds out more metrics and analytics for them to judge the success and enable more investment in what they do on the platform.

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