Earlier this year, Snapchat paid more than $100m to buy Bitstrips, the company behind the popular sticker app Bitmoji. 

Last week, Snapchat announced Bitmoji features were properly integrated into the app.

Bit-what?

If you're unaware, Bitmoji essentially allows users to create a virtual version of themselves - sort of like a personalised emoji, but bigger and more cartoon-like.

This image then becomes part of customised sketches, ranging from personal greetings to pop-culture references.

It’s all very silly, but also hugely addictive and surprisingly effective.

When there are no words to express a hangover or that TGIF feeling, a Bitmoji says it all.

 

How will it work?

To use Bitmoji in Snapchat, the app needs to be downloaded separately.

Once the settings are linked, users can then add personalised stickers to snaps and send them through the app's chat platform.

With the recent overhaul of the latter, users can now send images, audio, video and photos in a continuous conversation without needing to switch tabs.

Snapchat are surely hoping that Bitmoji will play a big part in this, especially as users often ignore or fail to realise that the platform has a chat feature.

How can brands use it?

With consumers spending more time on mobile devices than ever before, social media has become awash with branded content. 

While Snapchat’s Discover and Stories features already allow brands to connect with fans, Bitmoji will provide yet another way for this to happen, specifically appealing to a millennial market who already use the app in every day conversations.

Bitmoji will allow brands to create unique animated sketches that advertise their particular products or services, similar to sponsored Snapchat Lenses which saw the likes of Pepsi Max and Taco Bell create their own filters.

Unlike other forms of online content, the biggest benefit of Bitmoji is that it enables the infiltration of ‘dark social’ – i.e. private messages and conversations.

With 74% of all online sharing activity occurring in this space, it presents a mammoth opportunity for marketers.

What are the challenges?

We’ve already seen the likes of Pixar and HBO create personalised Bitmojis, released in celebration of new movies and TV series.

Similarly, clothing designers such as Steve Madden and Michael Kors have featured on ‘Bitmoji Fashion’ – the feature that allows users to personalise their avatars with a particular outfit.

While there is clear opportunity for fashion and entertainment brands, the challenge might be for industries that do not have a natural tie-in or affinity with the platform. 

Sure, users might be inclined to send a Bitmoji of themselves as a particular movie character – however it remains to be seen whether product-focused brands (like Starbucks and Coca Cola) are able to evoke the same sense of fun and spontaneity. 

Having forked out such a big sum, Snapchat is certainly hoping so.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 26 July, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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