Ramadan 2020: Genuine connections & creativity by Snap Inc.’s Jacob Thomas

By Jacob Thomas, Business Lead - MENA, Snap Inc.

Ramadan is a month of giving, spiritual reflection and reconnecting with families and friends. It’s a special period to spend more quality time with loved ones and for communities to bond together. However, due to the current situation, the majority of people will be connecting and celebrating virtually and Snapchat is the platform that helps close friends and family, stay connected, informed and express themselves freely and creatively.

Recently, this creative expression and connectivity is being harnessed to share critical information and provide opportunities to help others. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Snapchat has rolled out a set of new lenses and other mobile-first creative tools to help Snapchatters share expert-approved advice with their friends and family members. In addition, we have launched our first ever AR global donation tool to raise money for the World Health Organization (WHO) Covid-19 Solidarity Fund. Through this AR experience, Snapchatters can scan a number of currencies, including AED and Saudi Riyals, and contribute to vaccine development, medical supplies, patient care and essential supplies for frontline workers.

Advances in mobile technology are making these types of creative and meaningful connections easier than ever before. It is these connections that are core to making Snapchat the go-to platform for users. This can be seen in time spent on Snapchat, during Ramadan 2019 Snapchatters in the GCC spent more than 1 hour every day on Snapchat on average – more than double the global average.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen increased engagement across our platform, much of it coming from communication between close friends. Time spent playing with Lenses is up by more than 25% during late March compared to late February. Time spent watching Snapchat Shows is higher than ever. Discover content within News, Health & Wellness, and Gaming categories are seeing an increase in engagement.

Helping Snapchatters stay informed and entertained is a priority for us during this Ramadan. Snapchat brings some of the best shows and publisher stories in the region to users during Ramadan. On Discover for example, we host premium content specifically produced for Ramadan from some of the region’s leading publishing companies. In addition, our publishing partners are producing timely and relevant coverage about COVID-19 – ensuring this professionally produced, vetted and curated content reaches our highly engaged 34 million Snapchatters across MENA.

We are proud of the content that our partners are producing. Discover on Snapchat has become a go-to source for premium vertical video content which results in high engagement. In Ramadan alone, the total time spent on Discover content grew by more than 85% year on year between 2018 and 2019. We expect continued  growth this year, with Snapchatters increasingly looking to Snap to stay informed, connected and entertained.

So what does this mean for Brands? The COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically impacted the way in which brands can connect, inform and inspire their audience.  With the disappearance of physical foot fall, many brands sought alternative points of sale to transact with customers. During a traditionally peak time for retailers, we’ve witnessed a rapid shift to Ecommerce, accelerating the digital transformation for many brands.

Brands are also seeking to understand what role they have to play in the day-to-day lives of their consumers, during this period. Brands who are leading in this are focusing their communications on three areas. First, they inspire their audiences by driving awareness on how their brand initiatives are positively impacting the current crisis and are aligned with their values. Secondly, they help their consumers by offering solutions as simple as delivery service when in-store purchases are not an option. Finally, they entertain and/or inspire creativity. In these challenging times brands absolutely have a role to play in providing memorable moments of joy and levity for their audiences.

As the Snapchat community looks for guidance, perspective and connection during this Ramadan, brands that inspire, help and entertain will build meaningful connections.