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Is Snapchat the Next Big Thing in Events?

By Nick Borelli

It’s official. The tipping point on Snapchat for #EventProfs has come. Get on board or fall behind and find out why it is the perfect social media platform for live events.

Is Snapchat the Next Big Thing in Events?

Do we really need another social media in our lives?

Our relationship with social media in our lives is really in its infancy but patterns of adoption and change have started forming that can’t be ignored.

A new social media platform is created. A young user base of early adopters form around it. Brands with unlimited budget in the B2C world dip their toes in the water with some basic marketing in order to test and measure success. More brands follow them.

Influencers, mavens, and connectors move in and experiment with the platform and older users join up. More brands move in and the platform changes fast to accommodate a more diverse audience while taking advantage of the increased brand presence by adopting new monetization methods.

B2B brands find ways to utilize the platform. The platform changes again and takes on characteristics of other platforms watering down what originally made it special while trying to accommodate a most diverse audience and increasing profits.

This is the story of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Snapchat. Why this all matters to you is because Snapchat seems like it could be here to stay and it’s staking its future on live events.


Really? I have to use Snapchat now? But, I’m an adult.

Snapchat has been seen as the social media for kids because of the rapid early adoption rate for teens. Of course teens embraced it, the app seems uniquely built for them. While photo and video sharing apps like Instagram have grown quickly in user base and influence, it hasn’t really caught on as a messenger platform and that’s what teens have been addicted to since ICQ and AIM a generation before.

Living in the now and not dwelling on the past is a user behavior of teenagers and a fundamental of Snapchat. If you ask anyone about the app they will inevitably say, ”isn’t that the one where your posts go away after 24 hours?” They’re right. They disappear just like their ghost mascot. That was the single biggest turn off to marketers and it’s what kept the platform pure and let it grow organically for the first few years of its existence.

Snapchat was made for events. We just haven’t figured that out yet.

Snaps are temporary but, really, aren’t most social media posts? Sure you can shop someone or stalk them to get their history (trust me, I do it more than most) but for the most part what we post on Facebook or Instagram shows up in our followers feeds and is never see it again. Radio and television ads came and went for years and marketers didn’t struggle with their content disappearing. This is nothing new. Snapchat just formalizes the disposableness of social media communications.  It also does one better, it uses FOMO to create an addiction.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a powerful tactic because it’s more and more difficult to get action from people with an increase of calls to action happening in the form of constant advertising. Online adblocking technology, Netflix, and streaming music have conditioned consumers to recoil at the very idea of advertising. When you combine that with every brand adopting content marketing and becoming “storytellers” and too many social media channels to keep up with you get a cynical, overly-savvy consumer who just doesn’t care about images from your recent event. Having a platform that pushes people to watch the content they initially signed up for or forever losing the chance to see it has made Snapchat second only to Facebook in average time spent on the platform by users.

What excites me as an event professional is exactly that… they are a platform of the temporary. It’s where this app and we in the meetings and events industry can relate uniquely. Our events, as exciting, creative, and impactful as they can be, are here one day and gone the next. Temporary experiences are our trademark and there is finally a communications platform as committed to this philosophy as we are.

The Snapchat tipping point for the events industry.

I’m a lightning rod for conversations about social media and events. It’s what I’ve become an authority in as someone who built websites in the 90s, worked in catering, and DJed all before I was even in high school. Because of this unique vantage point I see cycles and what seems like predicting the future is really just understanding the past and psychology.

I know Snapchat is going to be huge for the events industry. It’s just a matter of how quickly everyone else gets there. I know this because Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal book, “The Tipping Point” has given us the vocabulary we need to describe a world of exponential change and how to see it coming. The Tipping Point is described as a moment of critical mass of momentum that spreads like wildfire. I believe that just happened for Snapchat and the events industry.


A Snapchat contest for the Youth Discoverability Summit in Toronto I created for Fifth Element Group

Snapchat has invested its future in the events industry

When I told you that Snapchat was a difficult place for marketers to adopt I didn’t say impossible. As the platform has changed over the past few years, it’s become more and more geared towards gaining revenue (saying no to Facebook’s offer of 3 Billion dollars to buy them must be part of it).

As as closed platform, Snapchat’s ability to gain revenue from brands comes in the form of photo and video filters. Filters are ways to enhance photos similar to what Instagram allows you to do by overlaying different colors, lighting, and effects over images and videos. Unlike Instagram, creative images can be added to Snaps to give context and those are now branded.

There are a few filter types:
1. Lenses - these recognize faces and augment them with graphics that make your face look like a dog, panda or even a taco (as branded by Taco Bell).


  1. Geofilters - images (art not photos) at the top, bottom, or frames for photos that are always available but only within a specific geographic fense.


  1. On-demand Geofilters - exactly like regular geofilters but are limited to not only a specific place but also a specific time.


That last one! That’s the first part of the tipping point for us in the live events industry… experiences worth capturing that are only happening at a specific time and place is the very definition of events. If you weren’t there at that time, you can’t share that filter and that’s taking advantage of the same behaviors that drive attendees to come to our events. They are investing in events! This can’t be understated. Snapchat has staked its financial future on its on-demand geofilters for its main potential revenue stream.

People follow authentic cool people anywhere they go

The next tipping point comes from early adopters who change the game. While the native people of any given country or area can claim they were there first, conquerors who come later are often the ones who set the tone for the culture that will last. The same can be said of influencers, mavens, and thought leaders.

When it comes to social media thought leaders, all the significant ones have crossed over to Snapchat over the past 3 months. The most prominent among them is marketer, Gary Vaynerchuk who has quickly become the platform’s loudest evangelist in the marketing world (garyvee). Where the mavens and connectors go the brands of all sizes soon follow. The right combination of “cool” and money provide fertile ground for the hordes. There are currently over 7 billion Snapchat views each day, which are Facebook-like numbers.

Canaries in the mind shaft aka early adopters

I attend a lot of event industry conferences in North America and I can tell you that attendees of IMEX America weren’t Snapping in October 2015, or in Orlando at The Special Event in January, 2016, but I saw it more and more in Las Vegas at Catersource this March. Something happened in the past couple of months where people are taking it a lot more serious now and I think our industry’s early adopters have sparked enough interest that people are paying attention.

If you are struggling to find your voice on the platform, let me offer you some advice. Don’t jump in head first. Like all social media platforms, this one has its own unwritten rules for engagement. Before you send a single snap, spend a week or more watching what others are doing.

Event Industry Influencers To Follow on Snapchat

If you are looking for Snapchat users to follow; here are 10 suggestions of event professionals from very different backgrounds I find to be very engaging:

DanjBerger - Founder of Social Tables. In my opinion, no one in our industry is using Snapchat more authentically and to greater effect. He’s setting the tone for event profs.

FabulousHal - Director of Sales and Marketing at Melange Catering. Honest, funny, behind the scenes of catering, and so quirky real. He’ll pull you into his world quick.

Cheferic666 – Chef Eric Levine has been the most impactful culinary voice of the Catersource conference for over 15 years. See what he sees in the kitchen from behind the line and in the weeds.

Eventsourcesnap - What goes on at event rental companies before your order arrives at the venue? These snaps give you insight in a fun way!

SashaSouzaEvent – Author, Consultant, and Planner, Sasha shows you just how much goes into social event planning for celebrities and discerning clients.

Damanyd – Damany Daniel, The Event Nerd, gives you an incredible honest and introspective view of his world as an event technology consultant, producer and dad.

RenoTahoeUSA - This Reno, Nevada CVM uses locals to help show off key features of the city from unique and real viewpoints.

Jodihbk - Las Vegas’s Jodi Harris shows you that event entertainers are entertaining all day long and not just when they are behind a microphone.

NickBorelli – I talk about the latest trends in digital marketing and engagement and how they impact events.

ToJulius - Publisher of Event Manager Blog speaks to the camera with passion in a new medium that augments the experience of reading his articles.

In Conclusion

I believe Snapchat has staying power because they are making long-term smart decisions about their future, every other platform is emulating what they are doing, and they’ve learned from the mistakes of other platforms. Twitter didn’t make money from hashtags and no one “owns” a hashtag which was a misstep. Snapchat Filters are different. There’s context built into them and it’s brandable.

Ultimately, I think most of us in the event industry should invest time into trying Snapchat for not only marketing their business but also for an understanding of how to incorporate its engagement abilities into our client’s events. So while the snaps disappear in 24 hours, I see Snapchat lasting a lot longer.

about the author

Nick Borelli
Nick Borelli is the President and Strategist for Borelli Strategies which focuses on consulting, coaching, and management of digital marketing for events and event companies. He is also an international speaker and the International Marcom Chair for the International Live Events Association.  
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