‘They genuinely wanted to listen’: Inside the Snapchat Creators Summit where 13 Snapchat users met the boss
Shortly after Cyrene Quiamco arrived at her hotel in the Venice neighborhood in Los Angeles, from her home in Little Rock, Arkansas, a Snap employee welcomed her with a giant yellow boogie board that had “CyreneQ” etched on the front. After admiring that and taking a few snaps, she hung out on the rooftop with a dozen of her friends.
While many hadn’t seen each other in a while, their eyes were glued to their cellphones. It wasn’t because they weren’t entertained. Rather, they were sharing the moments in real time with the millions of people who follow them on Snapchat. Later that night, they celebrated their own celebrity encounter: Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.
“I’m standing right next to the creator of Snapchat,” said Quiamco, as she grinned into her phone, snapping with Spiegel waving next to her.
“This is insane. You gotta say ‘Whattup’ to the Berky squad, ” said Danny Berk, as Spiegel laughed and later said, “Yo.”
Spiegel’s personal Snapchat account may be private, but Snap’s CEO embraced the limelight on his own platform this week during the first Snapchat Creators Summit. The two-day event welcomed 13 people who have dedicated a part of their lives to the app. While Snapchat has brought many of them financial success and celebrity status (in some circles), the company had kept these homegrown stars at bay. As Snapchat strives to compete against Facebook’s Instagram and faces its own slowing user growth, that resistance to embrace influencers has disappeared.
“It wasn’t just all fun and games. We basically said, ‘Most of the people’s views are down. What can you do to help us? We haven’t seen a lot of support.’ They actually had plans, and they got to show a lot of it,” Quiamco said.
The attendees walked in with grievances and came out knowing parts of Snapchat’s product road map, such as parts of the redesign of the redesign that further helped this group be discovered and communicate. Each of them was advised to keep the plans secret so these types of conversations could continue. Snap said it plans to host more Creators Summits.
“They genuinely wanted to listen. I feel very encouraged about what I saw and the direction they are moving. They seem truly committed to making up for lost time,” said Mike Metzler, a Snap influencer and strategist at Delmondo.
Snapchat is on a charm offensive to win the love of influencers. Twitter’s Vine made a similar decision to invite top users into its offices to talk strategy, yet the app died a year later. Recently, Facebook has been making a big push for influencers through Facebook Watch and creator-focused apps. YouTube frequently touts its homegrown talent. Helping that community thrive is one way to attract more users and brand attention.
On Snap’s third-quarter earnings call in 2017, Spiegel said the company would prioritize building “more distribution and monetization opportunities for these creators.” That job has been placed on Nick Bell, Snap’s vp of content. He originally helped create and grow the company’s relationships with publishers through Snapchat Discover. Now, he’s working more closely with individual influencers.
“We feel like there is so much talent on the platform, and as a company, we have not traditionally embraced it. We wanted to listen to the community and figure out how we can make a platform that allows them to tell their really creative and compelling stories,” Bell said.
Spiegel was just one of the highlights within the creators’ Snapchat Stories from the summit. The attendees provided rare looks inside Snapchat’s offices, including the Blue Beach House with its giant version of Snapchat and Snap Map. Some came from elsewhere in LA. Others flew thousands of miles. They each experienced not only a tour of Snap headquarters, but also the city’s recent onset of scooters and the Venice beaches.
From the perspective of viewing the day’s Snapchat Stories, it looked like the attendees are all friends. They are and communicate nearly daily via a “secret Facebook group,” Quiamco said. Yes, they’re aware of the irony — and potential privacy concerns — of using Facebook’s product to talk about Snapchat. Within that group they’ll discuss how much they’re charging brands for particular campaigns and concerns around dropping view counts, for example.
The idea of the summit stemmed from a conversation Bell had with Quiamco when she visited Snap headquarters earlier this year and mentioned the unofficial group. Not long after, Bell invited the 13 Snapchat users to headquarters.
“It was a cheeky remark, where I said, ‘Let’s get everyone together. We’ll tell you what we’re working on. We’ll just get to know you better,’” Bell said. “The key thing for us over the last 24 hours has been to listen. The next step is to digest all of that and figure out what to do with that, and figure out how to prioritize.”
A big part of the summit was acknowledgment. Snap gifted them with a tote bag with a branded towel and flip-flops as well as a boogie board featuring their handles. Of course, there were feature requests and talk of monetization during a roundtable with Bell, Snap’s head of talent relations Lauren Gallo, Quincy Kevan, and other members of the product and engineering teams. One immediate move was to verify the attendees, a feature that improves discoverability and grants access to special features on Snapchat. Quiamco said Snap promised to send them the new version of Spectacles, its video-camera sunglasses.
“We were wondering, ‘Is this going to be all talk and empty promises?’ They have something. I think this was an eye-opener. There’s more faith that Snap is listening,” Quiamco said.
‘Clever about how we rest’: As uncertainties drag into fall, agencies are facing a burnt out and fearful workforce
Agency employees and executives say that a feeling of fatigue due to the on-going uncertainty and the need to be always on has set in.
‘A credible voice’: Why Honda is doubling down on esports
Honda has struck deals with Riot Games, pro esports team Team Liquid and Twitch as it looks to maintain its appeal among first-time car buyers.
Member Exclusive‘2020 has been the year of contingency plans’: The new norms of marketing
Six months into a paradigm shift in marketing due to on-going crises, marketing leaders say that many of the coping changes put in place are here to stay.
SponsoredThe race to frictionless consumer journeys is expanding beyond marketplaces
Compressing consumers’ path-to-purchase is the holy grail of advertising and marketing. When Jeff Bezos authored 1-Click in 2011, advertisers began to realize that in some cases — especially for consumables — awareness, consideration and purchase can all happen in seconds. Since then the rise of e-commerce marketplaces has forced a major shift in the design […]
Snap is exploring bringing ads to Minis
Snap launched Minis, lightweight third-party applications that sit within the Snapchat app, in July. Now it's looking to monetize them.
Deep Dive: How the Summer of 2020 forced brand marketing to change for the better
The coronavirus crisis upended the world for brands and marketers, but as it turned out, the pandemic only marked the beginning of a wave of technological and social changes that would sweep the nation. A summer of protests ignited calls for change from the street to the boardroom, prompting brands to examine their values and […]