In it’s early days Snapchat was incredibly innovative. Taking the established fondness of photo sharing, on social media platforms such as Instagram and Flickr, the Snapchat team built an app that allowed its users to communicate through photos, without the added hassle of logging in and scrolling through an endless feed of photographic drivel.
It may come as a you shock to you but over time Snapchat has become more than just six second snapshots of your Five Guys Burger enhanced with Saturated filter. The teen novelty of ‘photographic sexting’ gradually wore off and the age of mainstream selfies began. Since the dawn of front facing cameras people can’t seem to get enough of selfies and Snapchat is a huge enabler of said generational phenomenon. But Snapchat has slowly evolved into something of a powerful PR tool.
With the creation of Snapchat stories way back in 2013 users were able to create a 24-hour story of their comings and goings for all their respective followers to enjoy. As recently as last year Snapchat introduced a further element to this feature, Event Stories. Take the Fourth of July, Independence Day for example. In a week’s time the Independence Day event story will be awash with photos and videos, fancy filters, celebrations and deliberations. And all of these stories will be collated into one live event stream across the 24-hour period accessible to anyone with Snapchat. This innovative feature allows users to access culture rich locations from around the world without lifting a finger, quite literally. Once your finger hits the screen you’re in for an immersive 360 second story from across the world that is often truly captivating.
Snapchat doesn’t just focus on national holidays either, no sir-ey. There are event stories from landmark cities including New York, London, even Jakarta. As of writing, the NBA Draft is featured, as well as Extreme Sports Week in Voss. Past events include Comicon, E3, and the Brazil World Cup Final, but more obscure events are beginning to get their time in the spotlight. Right alongside the NBA Draft sits the National Marbles Tournament held in New Jersey and this is just the beginning of a unique insight into some of the world’s obscure offerings.
But there is someone who uses the story feature to particularly good effect and his name is ‘arnoldschnitzel’, and yes that is the official name of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Snapchat profile. ‘arnoldschnitzel’ breaks down the barriers between fame and normailty and allows his fans an insight to his everyday life without feeling intrusive. His recent Hollywood Terminator publicity stunt to promote After School All-Stars charity got a lot of attention, it was seen by millions, and understandably so, it was pure class. But that was available through a multitude of different mediums thus generating a wealth of traffic but this is where Snapchat differs. It feels entirely personal.
"Look at this."
Consistently happy, consistently fun and consistently accessible ‘arnoldschnitzel’ has become my first stop for all things Arnie, ahead of Twitter by a long shot. Social media is full of spectators and speculators that jazz something up to make it seem more impressive or worthy of your attention. Arnie cuts through all the fuss and delivers videos, technically no different to those your friends post, of himself standing under the Eiffel Tower, at Piccadilly Circus, or the World Premiere of Terminator Genisys in Berlin and all of it is done with an air of humilty and normalness that is instantly relatable. True to his utterly self-effacing style Arnie hasn’t deliberately set out to create a new persona. No, this is him. His frequently endearing Snapchat catchphrase, “Look at this” always manages to bring a smile to my face, as does his tongue-in-cheek appreciation of “this handsome guy” [camera pans to a billboard of himself]. His selfie video of ‘get to the choppa’ in France was a particular highlight that the majority of the world probably missed out on, too bad.
This probably just sounds like serious Arnie fanboy chat but on a serious note I’d like to consider the legacy of celebrity snapchat as a seriously powerful PR tool. Okay sure, PR firms aren’t about to drop everything and advise their clients to download Snapchat and do their job for them. But as a prospective consumer of Terminator Genisys I am certainly more hyped about seeing it now compared to when the first trailer was released. I feel like I’ve been taken on a journey and as a result the reward will be highly satisfying. Of course this could all backfire and I could hate the movie but the chance of my appreciation for Arnie diminshing is unlikely. I once woke up to a video of his recently polished boot collection, how many other people are you likely to meet that can say “yeah I saw that too.”
Whether Snapchat becomes a mainstream celebrity tool used to connect with fans remains to be seen. But answer me this, who wouldn’t want to see 8 seconds of Bill Murray, 5 seconds with Chris Pratt, or the whole 10 seconds of Will Smith reenacting Fresh Prince? The element of appealing to the masses and fulfilling your ego quota for the day is removed when people aren’t given the option to ‘like’, which is why ‘arnoldschnitzel’ is so endearing.