Trend Alert: #realfriends

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

Last week, Snapchat launched their #realfriends marketing campaign, employing a sneaky tactic to reach the perfect target audience.

While Snapchat has faced some difficulties over the past two years, including a backlash against their 2018 redesign which caused stock prices to fall, the app remains popular among Gen Z. In the US, 62% of 16-24s are using Snapchat at least once a week, according to our Youth Trends 2019 survey.

In our conversations with this demographic, they regularly tell us they see Snapchat as a place to communicate with their ‘real friends.’ For example, they only give their username to people they’re close to, and see Snapchat as a place they can be their true selves. Meanwhile on Instagram, as follow counts are visible, they’re incentivised to grow a larger network, they’re more concerned about how they might be perceived, and it’s seen as a place to follow brands, influencers and celebrities. Snapchat has recognised this distinction and put it at the centre of their new campaign.

Launched to coincide with the International Day of Friendship on July 30, the Real Friends campaign includes a YouTube video, cinema, print and billboard ads, and most controversial, an Instagram hashtag takeover. On launch day, the #realfriends page on Instagram was dominated by images that Snapchat had fed to popular Instagram accounts known for posting quotes. By partnering with these “quotefluencers,” they were able to advertise on Instagram without paying their rivals. The ads made a clear implication that Instagram is less authentic than Snapchat, making the choice to place the ads there especially audacious.

The campaign earned a positive response from marketers, but its impact on Gen Z and the platform’s user growth is yet to be seen. The strength of our stats shows that Snapchat still plays an important role in Gen Z’s lives, but Instagram performed even better, with 68% of 16-24s using it at least weekly. The fact that Snapchat chose Instagram as a key advertising channel could also be considered a compliment to their rival, recognising that it is where their target audience spends their time. Will Instagram respond with a big budget campaign of their own? We’re looking forward to finding out!

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