Why Snapchat Is Becoming the Hottest Social Tool for Ad Agencies

From recruiting young talent to winning new business

With attention shifting from Facebook and Twitter to social darling Snapchat, some agencies are hoping to turn their ephemeral posts into recruitment and new business opportunities.

Havas Chicago this week kicks off the second iteration of its Snapchat recruitment program for interns, calling on job seekers to create social media campaigns from among seven causes, from fighting hunger to ending gun violence. The winner will get a 10-week internship and the chance to lead an agencywide initiative supporting the cause they pitched.

The push for digital-savvy talent underscores Havas’ desire to stay abreast of new technology and remain part of a social conversation that is increasingly led by influencers.

“If you want to speak to a millennial audience, hire millennials to create the content for you,” said Jason Peterson, chief creative officer at Havas North America. “Snapchat is the immediate future for reaching our consumers, [and] whether or not our clients are ready for it, we want to be ready for it.”

Unlike more established platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat’s disappearing posts provide a playful environment for reflecting an agency’s culture—just the kind of content that works best for recruiting efforts, according to experts. “On Snapchat, the risks are a lot lower. It’s a place where we can experiment and have some fun,” explained David Berkowitz, CMO of MRY. “It’s not as high profile as Facebook or Twitter where people scrutinize every word and you have to represent the brand.”

MRY last week posted a clip on Snapchat of its community team blowing off steam with a game of wastebasket basketball. The agency said it will have staffers post similar videos a few times a week.

It’s not just about recruitment. Some shops that have recruited Snapchat aficionados are also exploring how to generate new business by way of the app.

For example, Giant Spoon last month started pitching briefs and random digital marketing data to clients via Snapchat. After learning from a meeting with Reddit that 47 percent of Redditors are female, it posted a quick video of an employee breaking down the stat on Snapchat.

“That’s something that you’re not going to read in 20 articles,” said Jon Haber, co-founder of Giant Spoon. “It’s something that we saw in the course of doing business that we think is relevant to marketers.”

While Snapchat offers brands new creative opportunities, it also poses the same challenges for agencies that their clients struggle with. Namely, it’s difficult to recruit if you don’t have a Snapchat following, and it’s hard to build a following if your team isn’t good at developing content that disappears after 24 hours.

For those reasons, some shops have avoided Snapchat. Will Phung, vp, media at M&C Saatchi Mobile, said his agency recruits Gen Y talent via LinkedIn and Instagram where it tags posts with the hashtag #agencylife.

Snapchat “is not the highest priority for us in terms of having a social media presence,” Phung said. “There’s no client out there that is in the pitch process and is saying, ‘These guys use Snapchat. That is going to make us choose them versus another agency.'”

This story first appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of Adweek magazine.

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