Snapchat is very popular with Millennials, while McDonald's is not. Could McDonald's glean some of that popularity, being the first brand to use the platform's geolocation filters?
On Monday, McDonald's became the first brand to leverage Snapchat's geofilter feature, which allows users to include location-specific filters to their snaps. Could this help move McDonald's into Millennials' good graces?
Snapchat is extraordinarily popular with Millennials - according to Statista, more than 80 percent of users are under 25 - while McDonald's isn't. Business Insider recently reported that while Millennials frequent McDonald's, they're not likely to recommend the chain to a friend. In other words, they would prefer food they perceive to be of higher quality, such as Chipotle, but they secretly settle for McDonald's because it's significantly cheaper.
The chain has made many attempts to turn its image around, such as healthier menu options and the recent rebranding of the Hamburglar. Given the popularity of Snapchat's geofilters - location-specific, sticker-filled filters which currently decorate more than 1 million snaps every day - a fun campaign on the messaging platform could help McDonald's a lot more in that regard.
"I think right now, the struggle for brands is, unless you're snapping something with the logo, there's no way to associate yourself with the Snapchat story and then it disappears," says Megan Toth, senior community manager of social strategy at iCrossing.
Toth adds that the sponsored geofilters are a win for everyone. After its Discover feature failed to make a big splash, Snapchat has an offering that serves as a great branding opportunity for advertisers. And consumers get more filter options.
"I'm always excited to snap something in any location and see, 'Oh, there's a new filter for Hell's Kitchen or Columbus Circle," Toth says. "I think [filters are] something people are already familiar (Read more...) and as these brands get involved, I don't think users will shy away from using the branded options, as opposed to a regular geofilter. I think people are just interested in sharing where they are with people and it's fun."
The McDonald's filters include a double cheeseburger with a bite missing, French fries spilling out of their bag and hearts emblazoned with the golden arches logo. So far, they've gained some traction on Twitter.
According to Thom Kennon, chief strategy officer at digital agency Pure, the stigma around fast food gives chains a problem "they can't advertise their way out of." He says this is particularly true of McDonald's, for whom utilizing Snapchat's geofilters is something of a Hail Mary pass.
He thinks that of all the attempts the world's largest fast food chain has made to engage the younger audience, this is by far the most brilliant. Rather than trying to push themselves onto the demographic, McDonald's has associated itself with a popular platform full of user-generated content, with which brands typically have success, according to digital think tank L2.
"It's about giving people the opportunity to insert you into their feeds, not to get them to come to you and do the typical social behavior: like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter," Kennon says.
"This is a rock star idea during a desperate time for the brand," he continues. "It's not 'Like us and get a coupon.' What users want is to claim, 'Here I am, look at me.' If a brand can figure out a way to make that cool and distinctive, wrapping it up with a picture of fries and a burger, that is crazy valuable."
Though McDonald's has been the only brand to leverage this feature so far, Toth, echoing Kennon's opinions about the strategy, thinks other brands will undoubtedly be close behind. She can see Target, for example, creating its own geofilters with both bullseye the logo and Bullseye the Bull Terrier mascot. Once this takes off more, she can also see brands tapping Snapchat influencers to create their filters.
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