Snapchat is the latest platform to take the social media world by storm. Since its inception in 2011, the platform has grown to over 150 million active users (1). Snapchat's platform is certainly a unique one, and a huge part of its appeal is both the level of creativity it allows users to express and its "disappearing" content factor. This allows for Snapchat to be a spontaneous content and storytelling haven. The image and video-sharing social media platform is only growing more and more each day, and, like most social networks, businesses would be wise to consider how it could play into their digital marketing activities. As a business, if you don't have a presence on Snapchat within your social media strategy, you could very well be missing out on the opportunity to connect with dozens of people, especially those of the younger generation, who fit into your target audience. However, there's more to bridging the gap than just simply downloading the app.
What is Snapchat?
The first thing to know about Snapchat is that it's unlike any other social networking app. Snapchat is a mobile photo-messaging app that allows users to send public or private snaps of images and videos. In this selfie-driven age where preserving every moment has become the norm, Snapchat has strategically found a way to sort of go against the grain. While most other social media posts are typically archived and can later be accessed at any time, a "Snap" will expire. Every moment is temporary on Snapchat (up to only 10 seconds to be exact), and what is shared is rarely saved. Therefore, it's all about in-the-moment connections. No other social media platform offers this type of functionality. A "Snap" is the word used to describe the photos and videos that users send to one another or post on their "Story"- the bread and butter of the app. When a Snap is sent out or posted, users have the ability to make it last anywhere between one to ten seconds. Once viewed, the Snap will disappear. A "Story" is a collection of Snaps played in sequence, and shared to your list of followers in its entirety. Stories differ from Snaps, as they last up to 24 hours after being posted and can be re-watched.
There's plenty of opportunity and reason to mix Snapchat into your social media marketing strategy. We've seen several top companies such as Audi and Grubhub have success through the platform, but how can you achieve similar results with your own campaign?
Snapchat has the ability to engage influencers.
Snapchat has the ability to raise awareness.
Snapchat has the ability to reach highly engaged users.
The limited lifespan of its content structure creates a sense of urgency.
These factors allow for the creation of truly authentic marketing efforts and the ability to further humanize your brand, which is what a great deal of consumers seem to want these days.
Setting up a Snapchat Account
To get started with Snapchat for business, you must first set up an account. To do this, you'll need to download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play. Signing up requires basic information such as an email address, password and birthday. Once this information is captured you'll then be prompted to choose your username. Your Snapchat username is important, as it will be your uniquely branded handle and is what will allow followers to identify you. For this reason, it's important that your username aligns with your overall brand image. You want to ensure that your followers can easily recognize your username and understand who you are.
Find Your Target Your Audience
Snapchat is a unique platform in that it that encourages a more casual form of communication than any other current social media network does. Snapchat is becoming more widely used among different age groups, but primarily its audience is between the ages of 13-26, and of those users, 50% are on the app daily (1). Therefore, if you're company is aiming to reach a younger audience, Snapchat can certainly be a useful marketing tool. Snapchat users are often documenting their morning coffee, selfies or funny videos to share with friends. Keep this in mind, as users aren't typically sharing or looking for "professional" behavior here.
While it's good to know how to find people or other businesses on Snapchat, you'll likely be more concerned with making sure people can find and add you. Encourage your followers on other social media platforms to add you on Snapchat by making your handle present. Tweet it, Instagram it, Pin it, Facebook it. Do anything and everything you can to get it out in the public. Having your Snapchat information easy to find will make it easier for users to add you.
Create Engaging Content
We've briefly gone over the two ways in which you can keep your audience engaged on Snapchat- sending individual Snaps or building out a Snap Story. As an organization, you'll be focusing on the latter. Understand that Snapchat is meant to be real and entertaining. For this reason, when creating your content marketing strategy be sure to develop a tone of voice that will be perceived as such. Ideally, the language should be easy-to-understand and follow, and posts should have a sense of casualness to them.
Utilize your Snapchat account to allow users to see beyond the logo of your company. You only have a few seconds to make an impact on the user, so it's important to utilize all of Snapchat's tools to make your Snaps as interesting as possible. Need ideas to get started? Snap a picture of your storefront, if relevant, or a video of a satisfied customer explaining why they support your brand. Remember that your followers are following you for a reason. Make sure to provide them with entertaining and/or valuable content. Her are a few Snapchat best practices to follow in order to grow your followers:
Be consistent with your social media handles. By keeping your Snapchat handle consistent with other company branded social media handles there's a better chance that your fans will have an easier time finding and following you.
Promote your Snapchat account on other social media platforms and encourage your (already committed) fans to follow along!
Take advantage of your Snapcode. Snapcodes are a unique scanable code that allows for other users to instantly add you as a "friend". Include this on marketing materials and other websites!
Tell a Complete Story
Videos on any medium should be kept short and snappy (pun intended), and this certainly holds true for when it comes to Snapchat. Snapchat essentially serves as a short storyboard of your day. Take that approach and run with it. Keep users engaged with stories that have a beginning, middle and end. This is where a little strategy and planning come into play. This will keep your users anticipating and waiting to find out what the next Snap has in store.
Embrace the Time Limit
While some see the self-destructive nature of Snapchat to be a hurdle, marketers can actually use this aspect of the app to their benefit. How? Because videos and photos only exist for a few seconds, this lays out the ideal setup to "tease" your followers. For example, give followers a sneak peak of a product that you'll be unveiling soon. Think of it as similar to watching a movie trailer before the actual movie. It instills a bit of excitement, does it not? Teasers allow for you to get your users engaged and more likely to continue viewing your Snaps, awaiting the big reveal.
Pull Back the Curtain
Give your users a deeper look into "a day in the life" of your company by giving them a sneak peak of behind the scenes action. Let employees, ideally from different departments, take turns handling the company Snapchat account or appoint someone to document events and other big happenings within the organization.
Utilize Other Influencers
Companies are also utilizing what they call "Snapchat take-overs" to help keep their content fun and interactive. Snapchat takeovers involve having different people, often other industry influencers, in control of the company Snaps for a day.
Incentivize Your Audience
Everyone loves a deal but not everyone wants to skim through a long list of cluttered emails. Snapchat allows you as a business to quickly send an offer or promotion to reward users directly. Since stories expire quickly, it also presents the perfect opportunity to host flash sales.
Snapchat contests are a great way to incentivize users within your target market to follow and engage with your Snapchat. A typical Snapchat contest encourages entrants to post a Snap on their own individual Story, fulfilling some sort of conditions that help to promote your brand. These conditions may include answering a question or taking a specific type of photo or video.
Utilize Snapchat Ads
Snapchat Ads could play a huge role in the success of your Snapchat. Snap Ads appear between public Snapchat Stories (the sponsored Stories available for all users to see) and aren't fully disruptive. Instead, users are given the opportunity to click through for more information or simply pass on. Since they are less invasive by being skip-able, it's important to make sure that if you're utilizing Snap Ads that they are super engaging. Snap Ads will take up the full screen of a mobile phone, a huge advantage for marketers, as they are less likely to be an afterthought like they tend to be on other platforms. For brands that want to offer more than the ten seconds that traditional Snap Ads allow, the platform also offers Expandable Snap Ads, which allow for more content and call to actions that direct to outside the platform.
Utilize Influencer-Sponsored Posts
Sponsored posts are a great way to spread your company message or promote your products and services through influencers with followers in your target market. Identify influential users within your niche and reach out to them to collaborate. This will likely cost you, but should be a worthwhile investment. Here are some best practices for creating sponsored posts:
Make them seem as natural as possible. Allow for freedom of creativity and even mistakes, as this will help to make it seem less staged.
Ensure the influencer is also present in the photos or videos. This helps to strengthen the brand connection you're attempting to create.
Provide your influencer with a unique discount code. This provides their followers with an incentive to purchase your products or services, and also gives you surefire way to track the success of individual campaigns.
Embrace Geofilters When Appropriate
Geofilters allow those using Snapchat to add custom stamps of artwork to the images and videos shared. Snapchat has four different types of Geofilters.
In-House Geofliters: In-House Geofilters are filters that Snapchat itself creates and makes available to either all users or to users in certain locations (I.E. Olympics filters, holiday filters, etc.).
Community Geofilters: Community Geofilters can be created by any user, and are designed to promote local places and monuments, rather than a business or event. There's no charge for these filters, but they do have to be approved by Snapchat.
On-Demand Geofilters On-Demand Geofilters are Geofilters that can be purchased by any user on a self-serve basis. These are typically created for a special event (on campus recruitment, tradeshow, wedding, etc.). These Geofilters can be pinpointed to operate in an exact location and set up to run for an exact period of time.
Sponsored Geofilters: Sponsored Geofilters are the priciest option for Geofilters, and are therefore typically purchased mostly by larger companies making significant buys at perhaps multiple locations or a single location.
The key takeaway from this is that your content strategy for Snapchat should be drastically different than that of other social media networks. Snapchat hasn't quite gained the level of traction that networks like Facebook and Instagram have just yet, which is why it's the best time for businesses to jump on the bandwagon before everyone else (including all of your competitors) does. As an app that caters to the younger generation (who will ultimately shape the future) and favors mobile users, Snapchat certainly has the potential to be the future of social media and brand conversation.