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Aer Lingus gives followers a behind-the-scenes look at its A320 flight simulator.

APEX Insight: Aer Lingus is using Snapchat, a mobile app-based social media platform, to give its followers real-time, behind-the-scenes glimpses of the airline’s activities. Paul Buckley, head of Social Media at Aer Lingus, says the “snaps,” which are ephemeral because they have expiry dates, allow the airline to build a story as a live event unfolds.

Since its inception in 2011, Snapchat has seen incredible expansion. With over 57 percent growth in 2014, and now on average, 100 million daily active users, the platform sees over 4 billion “snaps” added every day. Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send photos and video messages that appear on the receiver’s screen for one to 10 seconds before disappearing.

Aer Lingus was the first airline to get on board with Snapchat in April 2014, using the app to celebrate its inaugural Dublin–San Francisco flight. “We shared some impromptu scenes of our staff members from all over Dublin Airport celebrating the occasion,” says Paul Buckley, head of Social Media at Aer Lingus. “Part of our social media strategy is to be where our guests are and to capture any brand value that social channels can deliver, wherever it can be found; so it was a logical step for us to join the party.”

Brands know the demographic of Snapchat is primarily between the ages of 13 and 34 years old and they tailor their content appropriately, many using humor to reveal the unedited side of a brand.

“Our favorite way to use Snapchat is in a live setting – building a story as events are unfolding,” says Buckley. “This can be on board a special flight, like an inaugural [flight], or providing behind-the-scenes access to the flight deck. The ability to build a story brings the user with us on a journey that has a start, middle and end. I don’t believe that any other channel allows us to do that in such an easy and natural way.”

“Our favourite way to use Snapchat is in a live setting – building a story as events are unfolding.” – Paul Buckley, Aer Lingus

In October 2015, Virgin America joined the platform, making the announcement on Twitter. As Snapchat doesn’t offer follower or open rate analytics, brands must cross promote on other social media platforms to assess engagement results. Brands are using the platform to allow consumers an exclusive look at initiatives and events, as well as access to exclusive contests and promos, often where codes are distributed and prizes are awarded on other platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Snapchat lets brands show a human side to their operations, giving consumers an unedited, real-time look into their favourite companies. Airlines, like any other brand, have stories to tell, and as we know from other social platforms, travelers love engaging with the carriers they fly with. Time will tell if Snapchat takes off with other airlines, but if nothing else, the few using it appear to be having a lot of fun.

Jenn Wint is a Vancouver-based communications enthusiast and writer, passionate about good stories, laughter, world travel and excessive jellybean consumption. She is currently training to hike to Macchu Pichu and tick Peru off her bucket list.