When Snapchat first released Snapchat Spectacles via mysterious bright yellow vending machines called “Snapbots” across the country last November, it seemed that Snapchat seemed to be on to some kind of early hardware hit. Long lines and sellouts meant that Spectacles were just short of “coveted.”
That’s not necessarily the case now that they’re available online for $130, but they’re definitely still making a splash in the content game. Not keen to be left out of a new phase of social content, brands began jumping on the Spectacles wagon immediately.
As with any new product or feature, there’s something of a learning curve with Spectacles — some things work better than others. There are certain events and experiences that lend themselves more naturally to Spectacles. Snapchat users caught on quickly, figuring out that the best way to use Spectacles was to be doing something interesting and to take Spectacles along for the ride to give viewers a firsthand view.
The totally unique thing about Spectacles is that they give us what was previously something of an “impossible perspective” within Snapchat — short of mounting our phones to our heads, there was no way to get the perspective we’re given access to with spectacles through Snapchat. In fact, the closest equivalent to Spectacles (aside from the obvious comparisons to Google Glass) is a helmet-mounted GoPro camera and, while wildly popular, they’re not quite as inconspicuous, inexpensive, or simple to use as Spectacles.
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But some of the best use cases for Snapchat Spectacles are those for which GoPro was created — experiences. GoPros are used for everything from wide-angle views of gorgeous scenery to extreme mountain biking jaunts along treacherous paths. Spectacles are still in their infancy, but given the perspective and the ease of sharing, it’s not hard to imagine them blossoming into a must-have for everyday adventurers.
It’s not just extreme adventures, though. Experiences that feel compelling from a first person perspective — think being in a special place, around certain people, or doing something specific — are all ripe for Spectacles coverage. For the most part, outdoor videos that focus on some kind of activity and include a grounded perspective (and sometimes even the wearer’s hands) do best. Think skateboarding, hiking, playing basketball, driving, etc.
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So how does that translate to advertising? Let’s take a look at how a few brands are already using Spectacles and see what that means for use cases and best practices.
Esquire’s approach was more experiential, and it was dead simple. Basically, Esquire took viewers on a ride.
In its foray into Snapchat Spectacles territory, it recorded and shared a first person experience on a motorcycle. It wasn’t complicated or particularly newsworthy — just a motorcycle ride through the streets of Venice Beach to promote Esquire Network’s show “Wrench Against the Machine.” What made it stand out was the first person element:
The fundamental draw behind VR and GoPros and Spectacles is the feeling of being there, of presence. Spectacles put us on that motorcycle and took us for a ride, making us feel like we were there. That’s a powerful feeling, and one that’s going to get people to tune and in and engage. That said, it’s worth noting that Esquire’s video may have been a bit more effective if it had been a bit more personal. The experience was compelling, but putting a strong personality behind it might have boosted its overall impact.
The way in which Sour Patch Kids used Spectacles is a prime example of the role of our hands in first person experiences. This is a well-known phenomenon in VR — seeing our hands within a VR experience grounds us and gives us a presence. And even though the hands in the Sour Patch Kids Spectacles Snaps aren’t ours, they ground us in the experience, giving us a sense of our bodies in this space as we navigate the experience.
Sour Patch Kids used Spectacles in a baking demonstration. It was straightforward, not necessarily anything complicated or adventurous, but it gets at the heart of the presence that makes Spectacles so unique. The perspective provided by Spectacles and the presence of the wearers hands gives viewers not just a singular viewpoint, but a role in what’s happening. In that sense, we’re not just watching what’s happening, we’re a part of it.
Baking a batch of cookies may not seem terribly exciting, but it’s proof of concept. Spectacles have the power to be seismic and transformative in the way that we approach and capture content, and using hands to give viewers a role in what’s happening is crucial.
Cosmetics company L’Oréal Paris used Spectacles backstage at the Golden Globes, giving viewers a firsthand account of the goings-on at the event. Though L’Oréal certainly could’ve just used phones to take photos and videos through Snapchat, Spectacles added something special to the mix by altering perspective. Because Spectacles record circular video that captures more in every direction than the camera on the front of your iPhone can, it gave viewers a sense of presence.
Also key was the event itself. What users are capturing matters. For obvious reasons, Snaps of a major event like the Golden Globes are more compelling than Snaps of, say, someone’s morning routine (at least, in most cases). Whatever’s being recorded through Snapchat Spectacles should be notable and compelling, because if it’s not, unique perspective and the novelty of new hardware won’t get people to tune in.
American Eagle took a slightly different approach, putting Spectacles into the hands of influencers in Hong Kong. There was no major event like the Golden Globes. Instead, American Eagle had influencers record aspects of their lives as part of their #WeAllCan campaign. In some ways, this stands in stark opposition to the point made by L’Oréal’s use of Spectacles, but it’s worth noting that influencers have a particular draw when it comes to broadcasting things that might otherwise be considered a non-event.
When it comes to influencers, lifestyle is a big part of many of their personal brands. Many of their fans and subscribers want to know what they’re doing in the day-to-day aspects of their lives and are willing to tune in when something new and exciting is happening to them on a personal level. American Eagle tapped that personal aspect and using Snapchat Spectacles made it even more personal because of the unique perspective they lend.
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Though Spectacles were notoriously difficult to get ahold of following their initial release in November, they’ve since rolled out wide and available for purchase online for $129.99. They’re designed to be simple so that anyone who’s interested in creating content with Spectacles can do it with few or no barriers to entry. Spectacles have a single button for syncing and recording, and Snapchat takes care of all of the heavy lifting for you.
The most difficult thing about using Snapchat Spectacles is figuring how to use them well: Deciding whether or not something’s a good fit for Spectacles, finding the right way to approach recording, and finding the best angle for capturing the experience. For the most part, though, understanding that compelling moments and the role of presence in the experience are central to creating Spectacles experiences helped these brands succeed early in the Spectacles game.