It’s a constant challenge for even the most popular social media platforms to remain relevant and not lose their luster for users. That’s even more of a challenge for a brand whose core user base is under 34 years old the way Snapchat’s is.
But Snap, the self-proclaimed “camera company” behind Snapchat, continues to find ways.
And its latest product offering, Snapchat Spectacles, is the perfect next step — Snapchat’s first tangible product offered — that could be a significant enhancement for marketers and everyday Snapchat users alike.
Like most social channels, Snapchat has gone through a series of updates and changes since its launch in late 2011; some made the mobile app more user-friendly, some added or enhanced features, and others were built with the focus of making Snapchat a true content hub where some of the biggest brands could reach potential customers.
But what’s so great about these gaudy sunglasses with a built-in Snapchat camera?
Here are the six biggest reasons why Spectacles are will only increase in popularity, especially for marketers.
1. Optimal Video Viewing
One of Snapchat’s biggest nuances is how it plays back videos.
Because users tend to open the app often throughout (18 times on average per day) they usually open Snapchat in passing or while doing other things. So, users are almost always viewing Snapchat’s content in a vertical mode rather than the horizontally-shot best practice we’ve all learned from our experience with YouTube. (Right? ?)
Spectacles fix that problem completely.
By optimizing all Spectacle videos to follow the real-life rules of gravity — so that down is always down and up is always up — Snapchat makes sure users viewing content get the best possible experience.
There is no turning the phone back and forth in hopes to be able to tell what’s going on in a video. Spec videos adapt to which way the viewer is holding the phone, ensuring an exceptional user experience for consuming Spec videos (and hopefully eliminating vertigo).
This is obviously a big help for messaging by marketers. You won’t have to worry about the best practices for taking phone-generated content and whether users are able to correctly view it; Specs can do that for you.
Now I’m just wondering why Snapchat hasn’t optimized all its content this way, although this move is still a huge step in the right direction.
Specs also have a wide camera lens, so the videos captured have a wider peripheral view than the classic iPhone-taped Snaps.
2. Hands-Free Recording
The obvious advantage of Specs is the ability to capture great videos without having to hold your phone constantly up in the air like that annoying person at a ball game or concert. One (or two or three) simple tap(s) on the record button and Specs does the rest.
This factor alone makes Specs an ideal purchase for any brand determined to leverage Snapchat from a marketing standpoint, as well as any everyday Snapchat user, and even for brands and/or users just trying to capture the most important content for their messaging on an as-needed basis.
In the future, I hope Snapchat can come up with an even more appealing design for the glasses themselves, though.
It’s hard not to stand out when wearing Spectacles. Plus, I’ve yet to find an outfit that matches my basic black-and-yellow oversized shades.
It is a step up from the robotic-looking Google Glass project that was popular years ago, though.
3. Carry Case is Also a Charger
Every good pair of sunglasses needs a solid carrying case to protect them whenever they aren’t being used.
Snap certainly identified this, and made sure it not only protected your Specs, but also offers a sensible way to ensure the glasses keep a charge throughout the day.
Utilizing a removable charging cord that connects to the Specs case, charging up the glasses is similar to a cell phone: plug into a USB port or cellphone-charging block and, in less than two hours, your Specs should be fully charged.
You also don’t have to worry about Specs getting crushed, bent, or broken thanks to the strong case that protects them.
We like it when our tools are as hardcore as we are.
4. Spec Videos are Transferrable to Other Platforms Camera Roll
What makes Spectacles so crucial to the Snapchat platform is how much better Spec videos look on the app vs. anywhere else. The videos are formatted to have the biggest impact within Snapchat. That’s also why you can’t record a video longer than 10 seconds, or a series of three of them totaling 30 seconds, with Specs.
But that doesn’t mean the videos can’t be reused and repurposed, too.
Users are able to download their Spec-taped videos from within the Snapchat app, similar to any other photo or video shot within Snapchat, and share it with friends via text message, email, or different social network. This is a marketer’s dream, to be able to reuse rich media for different purposes and messaging on a wide range of networks.
Yes, Spec videos are a bit lower in quality than those of a recent iPhone model (iPhone 5 and up, running on iOS 8 or above required) or Android (devices running on Android 4.3 and above with BLE and Wi-Fi Direct required) when uploaded via Bluetooth. But that video quality isn’t horrible, and if you upload your videos while on a Wi-Fi connection, the videos will be in high-definition (HD). Two really small prices to pay for the convenience and effectiveness Specs have to offer.
The bigger issue with Spec videos is how they appear outside of the Snapchat app.
All Spec-generated videos are exported with a white circular border around them. This allows content consumers to recognize that videos with the white border were actually shot with Specs, but also limits the user experience thanks to the dominating white space.
This further supports the idea that Specs’ benefits are much more superior within the app than outside of it but doesn’t eliminate the possibility of using them completely.
And, don’t forget, you can upload a series of Snaps to your Snapchat Story within the app, then export the Story as one video (up to 20 Snaps at once) to use and possibly repurpose.
5. Bluetooth Wi-Fi Transfers from Specs to Phone
When Specs are fully charged, you’re able to create content virtually disconnected (visually) from all devices.
The ability to upload videos from Specs to Snapchat via Bluetooth when not on Wi-Fi is certainly an advantage. No buttons to push, no instructions to follow. Capture your Spec videos and remain close to your mobile phone to ensure proper upload.
If you’re on Wi-Fi, you get a better connection and better video quality. So, faster uploads and HD-quality videos will be the result of content created within a company’s headquarters, or anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
Just be careful: if you’re phone battery is dead or you’re out of range for it to connect with Specs via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, your content may be at risk of being lost. Keep your phone charged and within reach to ensure continuous connection and uploading.
6. Do What You Couldn’t Before
Finally, a pair of sunglasses with a video camera.
Specs allow us to show a perspective that is easily lost or misconstrued when creating video content straight from a handheld device. Aside from some of the aforementioned issues, we have the innovative ability to capture life from a first-person perspective, optimized for Snapchat, but also usable anywhere video content is watchable.
It reminds me of those hidden-camera TV shows where people wear video-camera glasses and act incredibly weird to see what unsuspecting civilians would do or say. The difference with Specs is, there’s no hiding what they are and do unless the subjects being taped have never seen or heard of them before (think parents and grandparents who are admittedly not tech savvy, or the folks who go as far as to resist our 21st-century technological advances altogether).
As marketers, we’d be able to carry out similar projects for branded messaging. As soon as Snap comes out with an updated version of the Specs that are a bit less distinct, that is. But the content possibilities remain endless if you can get past that, and brands are starting to realize the power of Specs, especially with the fair price of $129.99.
Featured Image taken by Geoff Arbuckle. Used with permission.