Snapchat Spectacles aren’t as fashionable as they want to be. They don’t work as well as you would like. They make it hard to see when you don’t need sunglasses. They’re also hands down the best social content investment your brand can make right now.
For $130 (assuming you can get your hands on one), you’re buying the one thing brands everywhere spend thousands on — content that makes fans pause for a moment and pay attention. Spectacles produce circular videos, a brand new video type from Snapchat that allows fans to twist their phones to see more of the video frame. It’s easy to see this as a gimmick, but the interactive nature of having to move your phone to see the full frame is oddly addictive.
That’s the goal of every social strategist and social platform right now: keep fans engaged. A few additional seconds of fans looking at, or in this case playing with, your video might be just enough time to deliver a true brand impression.
One downside of Spectacle-produced content is that circular video only works within Snapchat and isn’t easily editable. This is both a good and a bad thing; Bad because it removes the efficiency of producing one piece of visual content that’s shared across a brand’s social channels, but good for the same reason. Content should be crafted for a specific social channel, and the only reason every brand isn’t doing this is the cost associated with that heavy of a production schedule. Spectacles might be the device that encourages marketers to be faster and more focused in creating content.
It’s one of the reasons North employees waited in freezing temperatures to buy the hard-to-get Spectacles last month. Only a handful of the brands we work with are regularly posting to Snapchat, but having Spectacles in-house encourages our clients and creatives to consider how they could use circular video in a campaign. It’s the reason we have a pair dedicated to experimenting that’s always available for employees to take home over the weekend.
The other downside? Circular video can’t be used in an advertisement, at least not yet. A Snapchat representative we spoke to said circular ads aren’t in development, but chances are that’s only half true. Social companies often save the chance to be first for the one-percent of the world’s largest global brands—so don’t be surprised if an advertiser debuts the first circular video during the Superbowl or another big event in the coming months.
Yet those few flaws are counterbalanced with huge upsides. Spectacles give you the ability to post 30-second videos while non Spectacle owners are stuck with a 10 second limit. There’s the circular videos themselves that add a cool factor to any brand using them, and there’s the obvious eye-catching nature of content that only a few thousand people can produce right now.
Spectacles are far from perfect, but these are Spectacles 1.0, and it won’t be long before Snapchat builds a version with better specs and style. Revise that—Facebook will probably come out with a clone before then, but either way creatives should get their hands on these now and start testing the best way to use circular videos. Go out and buy a piece of a future.
Stuart Perkins is social content director at North. He tweets @Perkinsst