While there are a lot of opinions about the functionality or expected lifespan of Snapchat, one thing is for certain, it’s one of the fastest growing social media platforms. In fact, Snapchat’s monthly active users has reached more than 200 million people in the short time of its existence, Webpage FX stated in an infographic. At the same time, the social media app is growing so quickly that in 2016 it’s still not uncommon to hear people ask, “how do you even use Snapchat?”
If you’re a social media marketer, you might understand Snapchat, but do your directors and executives? It’s hard to sell a social media app to those who don’t quite get it. If you want more info on Snapchat Marketing, check out our guide.
However, recent Pew Research Center statistics showed us that Snapchat should be on nearly everyone’s radar.
Snapchat is infamous for being popular with teen demographics. To put things into perspective, the Pew survey discovered those between the ages 13 and 17 said their most used social media platform is:
- Facebook (71%)
- Instagram (52%)
- Snapchat (41%)
- Twitter (33%)
To add to it, more than 70% of the surveyed teens said they used more than one social media platform each day. For decades, brands have tried to figure out this demographic. But when you put your efforts toward Snapchat for business, you’re simply fishing where the fish are biting. To find out more about each platform’s demographics, check out our Social Media Demographics infographic.
Groundwork of Snapchat
Let’s first take a look at what makes up Snapchat before we start thinking of how it could work for your business. Snapchat is a photo and video sharing smartphone app that sends content to selected friends for a short period of time. Snapchat is also a chat system that lets you face time with friends while you’re in the chat mode.
When you send a photo or video, you can select the viewing time to be between 1 and 10 seconds. Friends or followers have the chance to click on the Snap again to view it once more, but original posters will be alerted if you watched it twice.
Additionally, there’s Snapchat Story, which allows you to put your videos and images on a single feed for friends to scan through and watch as many times as they want. Snapchat literally uses a timer on a person’s content and viewers can simply tap photos (phone screen) to skip to the next image. However, after 24 hours, the content is history.
This is what makes Snapchat so unique. Your content only lasts a few seconds and is gone from the app the next day (hence the ghost Snapchat logo).
What Is Snapchat Used For?
Depending on who you ask, Snapchat is used for a lot of different things. Some people like to use the platform to chat but with visual content and other users tend to use Snapchat to share funny, quick moments. The whole point of Snapchat is to be quick and sort of in the moment.
Users don’t spend time editing posts to perfection like Snapchat, but instead, people post sporadically and without much worry about perfecting the Snap. There’s several features where you can draw, add text or stickers, or add face-recognition filters (or selfie lenses) that alter your face. These filters can make you cry or shoot lasers from your eyes. You can even add sponsored advertisements, like Skittles, that use facial recognitions to make some sort of Skittle face.
International Business Times stated Snapchat receives 4 billion views a day, which is the same amount of views as Facebook.
That’s a crazy amount of photos and videos being shared on an app that some marketers still don’t know how to use. With the addition of Snapchat advertising, this app has become a goldmine for marketers wanting to reach teen and young generation demographics.
How to Get Started
Being able to increase your social media engagement should be a focal point when you’re trying to reach certain demographics. The Pew report added that roughly 73% of teens have a smartphone, which makes social media a prime spot to showcase your brand for younger audiences. However, it’s important to avoid starting customer service questions with Snapchat because it doesn’t keep a record like Twitter.
— Shorty Awards (@shortyawards) February 9, 2016
Create a Profile
To set up your Snapchat profile, simply download the app from the App Store (available for iOS and Android) and create a profile. You can set up a unique username so other users can easily find your brand. If the name is taken, a thumbs down emoji will appear or a thumbs up if it’s available.
Try to keep usernames easy to remember for customers and if possible, the same across all your social media platforms. The only way users will be able to find you or know who the Snap is coming from is through your username, which means you should make sure the name is simplistic and as close to your brand as possible.
Update Your Settings
When you use Snapchat for business, you should update your settings so everyone with the app can see your Snaps if they wish to. Start by selecting “everyone” for your filter on who is allowed to view your Snapchat Story. This will help publicize your profile.
When you click on the ghost icon on the camera screen, you can update you profile, find users, see who added you, scroll through your friends and even record a Snapchat profile avatar. Your avatar can be made of three quick photos that play in a loop within your ghost icon. When you search through your contacts, you can see users who have added their avatar.
Devise Your Plan
Your goal on any social media platform is to ensure you’re engaging an audience and ultimately directing them to your point of sales. Getting the user from a Snap to your sales page should be one of your main priorities. But how do you do that?
Try to devise your plan before you start aimlessly Snapping photos to your audience. You should map out how users will likely engage, respond and act to the piece of content. Since Snapchat is about sharing quick moments and chatting, use both angles to your benefit.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) February 5, 2016
Make sure you encourage users to participate and have fun. You can use your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to promote your Snapchat account. Snapchat for business doesn’t have to be as finely tuned as your other primary social profiles. Still, you want to get followers to respond to whatever you’re sending. Real-time engagement continues to grow, and you have to be ready for it when you’re on Snapchat. Encourage users to participate and have fun. Use your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to promote your Snapchat account.
Send Your First Snap
On the camera screen, you can simply hold down the camera button for video or you can one-press the button for a still photograph. You know you’re recording video when the red line around the circle starts and it ends when the circle is complete.
One of the reasons why people love sending Snaps is because of the customization features. With each photo or video, you can add stickers, geo location filters, text, emojis or standard photo filters. You have a 31-character limit, which will keep your messages concise.
Remember that your photos are still associated with your brand so do not go too far out of those guidelines with Snaps. At the same time, don’t be afraid to use Snapchat to highlight some of the more behind-the-scenes stories. You can use Snapchat to highlight:
- Manufacturing processes
- Team outings
- Workspace environments
- New products/releases
- Product teases
- Celebratory content
While all of these ideas are great for Snapchat, it’s also important to not invest too much on stylizing your content. Snapchat is meant to be spur of the moment, so don’t keep the same procedures you’d have with Instagram or a Facebook post.
Use Snapchat’s Exclusivity to Your Advantage
Snapchat is still relatively new in the minds of consumers. Additionally, using Snapchat for business purposes is even more of a scarcity in the social media industry. This is why you have to use Snapchat’s exclusivity to your brand’s advantage.
There are several ways to be absolutely creative with Snapchat’s coloring, text and sticker features. Taco Bell introduced the first ever coloring book on Snapchat that let you draw on predesigned Taco Bell images.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) September 16, 2015
Since you’re likely to have a fraction of a following compared to Facebook, you can use Snapchat to offer surprise promotions, sales or giveaways. This gives you a great opportunity to build a fan base with engaging Snaps that are special only to your followers.
Brand loyalty is a major factor when it comes to growing your audience. Through Snapchat, you can give sneak-peaks at new products or early-bird specials that are offered nowhere else. This will help you increase engagement and give your fans something to look forward to when they follow you on Snapchat. Otherwise, your content could get old and tired really quickly.
Hold Snapchat Contests
To add to Snapchat’s select viewership, you can hold specific contests to encourage more users to find you there. Snapchat contests take time to master, so try to start with something on the easy side.
You can ask users to send you Snaps that are related to the contest, but that involves a lot of manual data entry to make sure every entry is noted and evaluated. Instead, try to use a very simple go-to link in the Snap so contestants can easily read more information about the contest rules.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) January 22, 2016
Using a service like Bit.ly will ensure your link is not too long, and easy for your followers to remember or enter into their phones. Remember, you’re working through a mobile site, which means you’re going to receive a lot less desktop traffic compared to smartphone and tablet searches. Make sure your contest pages are mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
Find Influencers to Promote Your Snapchat
One of the best ways to keep your viewers entertained is to find an influencer who could take over your company’s Snapchat for a day. Social Media Examiner recommended the influencer could promote specific content, but also show followers a day in the life with a Snapchat story.
— Gatorade (@Gatorade) February 8, 2016
Coming up with fresh and new content ideas is one of the most challenging marketing tasks for businesses. If you know your audience well enough, hire someone to add their own content to your Snapchat so your followers continue to stay loyal to your content.
When you ask questions to your followers, you encourage them to instantly engage. If you read our blog often, you’ll see us continue to give the advice to ask questions to your followers to engage with them.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 27, 2016
You don’t have to get overly complicated with your questions. Also, simple questions will be easy to answer, which is exactly what you want for engagement. Ask your followers questions like:
- Do you know how our product/service works?
- What would you like to see improved?
- What is your favorite product/service?
- If you could change one thing about us, what would it be?
- Would you rather us release _____ or _____ product/service?
Snapchat’s interface is great for sharing multiple Snaps in a row. Essentially, this is your Snapchat Story, so use the style to your advantage. Keep users enthralled with a series of sequential photos and videos that showcase your product or service.
— Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) February 10, 2016
In this example, the Tonight Show uses Snapchat almost like an Easter egg hunt to find the intern. It’s a playful and entertaining way to keep followers’ attention through your story for a possible prize at the end.
Snapchat is all about having fun in the moment and you shouldn’t forget that even when you’re posting for a business account. The young demographic associated with Snapchat is a great chance to try some of your influencer marketing strategies or to include humorous content from your brand.
I added Sour Patch Kids on snapchat and I regret nothing pic.twitter.com/QMnqgwKUId
— egg (@_jacobhopkins) February 10, 2015
The last thing you want is to seem stale and out of place on Snapchat. Other platforms like Twitter, Facebook and now even Instagram are becoming more welcoming to brands. As a business, you want to make sure you have the right social media management tools to engage, publish and analyze your platforms.
With Snapchat still existing in its early stages, it’s important to remember that you can quickly disengage your audience if you don’t take the right approach.
If you have any Snapchat for business ideas you want to share, comment below!
Hi, Thanks for your input.
This article raised some technical challenges, via snapchat you asked a question ok,
but how do you receive the response ? on snapchat chat feature and you have to be sure to "save it" and after... ....
it is ok for 10 answers... but if you got 100 what a technical and ergonomical challenge.
All this proposal of "participation" " engagement" are very nice of paper, but when you go for the practical side, it is much more tricky and usuer unfriendly... which makes me think ...that snapchat do not want people to be engage with too much easiness.
@McBahia You're right so far. Snapchat isn't necessarily a gold mine for data, when you compare it to Twitter and Facebook analytics. However, more marketers are putting in the extra effort to reach this audience because of it's very attention-grabbing platform that makes it easy to speak to your followers.
For example, Taco Bell just sent me a new contest and I feel like I'd normally ignore, but it enticed me to click and engage. (I'm a sucker for quesadillas). But it's not set up to easily pull data right now. Something tells me that with more advertising opportunities, Snapchat will change its API and structure to pull data. Again, you're all mobile when it comes to Snapchat.
@Alex York Some people will argue that they are third parties apps to facilitate the process, i hate 3rd partie apps, it is like if for wordprocessing you will have to download the spelling check apps, the bold and italics apps, the table apps etc...
For me an apps should have everything build in.
But i agree with you , things will change little by little, what is amazing for me is that to promote your Snap account, you have to go on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website etc...
Apart from this there is no build in ecosystem for business and it is really tricky to manage two snapchats account (login, logout etc...).
It is also a black box to know how to propose and be accepted in the live stories features.
One other weak point is the lack of stats, it is difficult in a business context to justify your involvment when you have no metrics to prove the efficiency of your work.
@lmmccurd You can log out of your personal one under the Ghostie icon and log into your company SnapChat. Since it's completely mobile, you'll have to stick to your phone! I have a feeling things will soon be integrated on the Web, but we'll see. Thanks for the read.
So, what happens if you already have a Snapchat account, but you want to start one for your company? Will your friends