Snapchat aims for $4 billion IPO

Our round up of this week's social media news and insights:

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Snapchat aims for $4 billion IPO

Snapchat is reported to be planning to raise as much as $4 billion in an initial public offering that could value the company at $35 billion in the biggest float of a social media company since Twitter Inc. sold shares in November 2013. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are reported as leads for the Snapchat offering, with JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Allen & Co., Barclays and Credit Suisse expected to be involved as joint book runners. The Snapchat IPO would be the biggest of any social media company since Twitter sold shares in November 2013, and it could set the stage for a resurgence of technology listings after a slow 2016 in the US. A string of “mega unicorn” companies - those valued at more than $10bn - are looking to realise their founders’ and investors’ wealth by floating on the stock market. Among them are Uber, last valued at $68bn, and Airbnb, lately worth $30bn. A Snap flotation would turn its founders into multi-billionaires and vindicate the decision to reject a $3bn takeover by Facebook in 2013, when Snapchat had yet to make any revenue. Setting early expectations for an IPO is a tactic used to entice potential investors to the IPO, and it will take time before final details are confirmed. Leaked documents show the company is looking to generate around $1 billion in revenue next year. Raising big money will be key to allowing Snapchat to work on its hardware plans, like its Spectacles sunglasses, and making large acquisitions like its reported $100 million acquisition of Bitstrips. Snapchat has pioneered some new forms of advertising, like sponsored lenses, the different filters that go on top of people’s selfies, designed by brands. Snap aims to generate more than $350 million in advertising revenue this year, up from $59 million in 2015, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Twitter, which has fewer daily active users and a lower valuation, is expected to bring in more than $2 billion this year.

PR and Marketing in Social Media

Shell enlists A-list celebrity cast to #makethefuture

Shell is turning to musical influencers like Pixie Lott for its latest campaign to promote its innovation credentials and open a dialogue about the future of the energy industry. Pixie Lott, Jennifer Hudson and Steve Aoki all feature in Shell’s new millennial-focused #MakeTheFuture campaign, which features the company’s partnerships with energy startups. The idea is to show that collaboration and global alliances can transform technology as much as a music, so the artists involved teamed up with other stars including Brazilian singer Luan Santana, China’s Tan WeiWei and Nigerian popstar Yemi Alade to record a song and interactive music video for Shell. The resulting ‘Best Day of My Life’ video showcases six of the sustainability projects that Shell is supporting. The spot has been a hit on social for Shell - recording over 7m views on YouTube and 52m on Facebook. #MakeTheFuture is running across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and some of the associated events have even been streamed on Facebook Live, while Snapchat’s Stories feature gave fans in Rio behind the scenes access. The video is used as preroll on YouTube and has garnered some highly positive video comments. It looks like they tagged all of the entertainers in their Facebook post, so the video shows up in the newsfeeds of fans, a great way to organically boost overall impressions. Dean Aragon, Shell’s global vice president of brand and chief executive of Shell Brands International AG, is committed to a broad range of platforms rather than streamlining spend to one. “I think the days of people getting excited about a specific platform and prescribing or preconceiving a particular initiative should be over, so we are far more agnostic,” he says.

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Facebook reveals new tools to combat bullying and abuse

Facebook has unveiled an updated Safety Centre and Bullying Prevention Hub as it tries to clamp down on abuse on the network. A new “security check-up” feature enables users to check the privacy settings on their Facebook profile and enhance them if necessary. Users will also be encouraged to change their password regularly and log out on public devices and browsers. Facebook along with Twitter and other social networking sites have faced criticism in the past for the way reports of abuse have been handled. The redesigned Safety Centre has been localised into 50 languages with some 60 partners involved to make its tools more accessible. Making the tools more widely available for a global audience is an acknowledgement that the issues go beyond Facebook’s core audience of English speaking users. And it is a challenge to Twitter. Facebook’s global head of safety Antigone Davis said: “If you see something abusive or harmful that you think should not be on Facebook, you can report it to us by clicking the report link - typically an upside-down arrow in the top right of a post. Our global team works 24 hours a day and seven days a week to review things that you report and remove anything that violates our community standards.”

Pinterest launches Pin Collective to connect brands with influencers

Pinterest is launching ‘Pin Collective‘, a service that matches brands and marketers with content creators. The Collective is a handpicked group of online influencers, publishers and production companies that aims to help brands create “inspiring, actionable Pins” by providing everything from production to video content, photos and wider campaigns. A pilot for the scheme saw retailer Albertsons work with stylist Monica Lavin to create Pins for its Halloween campaign. Pinterest is responding to an explosion in influencer marketing over the last year. Popular users with large social media followings are increasingly being utilised in marketing campaigns, so Pin Collective is an important move to compete with rivals like Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube in the influencer marketplace. Pin Collective is open for all marketers, regardless of size. And since there are no minimum ad budget requirements, Pinterest is encouraging less savvy marketers to experiment with the platform, luring incremental ad spending. This is also thought to be a priority for competitors like Facebook, who want to simplify ad-buying tools for SMBs. The launch comes a year after the debut of Pinterest’s in-house production studio, the Pin Factory. The social platform boasts 150 million users worldwide and has made serious strides to improve its appeal to brands over the past year, launching new formats like Promoted Pins and Promoted Videos.

Facebook launches augmented reality selfie “masks” for Live video

Facebook has integrated the augmented reality selfie lenses it calls “Masks” into its main app. Starting with Halloween-themed skeleton, witch, and pumpkin masks, Facebook users can now begin to use the special effects when they go Live as it starts a roll out beginning with iOS users. There are also time-limited Halloween variants of its beyond-the-Like-button emoji Reactions. The new effects leverage its acquisition of MSQRD, which had previously tested similar technology. The feature could revitalize Facebook for users who are shy about going Live on camera, because you can now obscure your face so you don’t worry about how you look. While the new feature shouldn't come as a surprise given Facebook's past experiments, it is yet another sign of the social network's increasing interest in adding "fun" ways to help users share in the moment (a la Snapchat) as it looks to bolster its video efforts - particularly live video. Halloween has historically been one of the most active seasons for Facebook as everyone goes to share photos of their costumes, so it’s the perfect time for Facebook to roll out its vision for the future of visual communication. Snapchat may have started consumer augmented reality, but Facebook wants to scale it.

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