5 Ways Your Brand Can Master Snapchat

I have to admit, it initially took me a while to see the value in Snapchat – not only for brands but for myself and my own social media “needs”. I sat back and watched for a while, taking in others’ stories, trying to sum up what people were using it for and what was going on. Then it clicked – I really liked it and I’ll tell you why.

Just like any other social media channel, Snapchat is a tool to help us create that illusion of whatever it is that we wish to represent of our lives. Let’s be honest, our social media feeds are in no way a representation of our real everyday lives; the ups, the downs, the tears and the laughter. We curate our content to show people the best of ourselves and that is perfectly fine, nobody really wants to see our tears after the 10 hour long Netflix binge when we’ve realised we still don’t know the outcome and we will never get those precious hours back.

Snapchat gives users the confidence to go that little bit deeper and share personal moments from their day as they know the content shared on Snapchat has a much less chance of floating about cyber space forever – to be resurrected at their hen/stag party, milestone birthday or even within an interview for a big shiny job.  The short life span of ‘snaps’ , between one and ten seconds, makes users more relaxed with the content they share, as the perceived consequences are less and therefore they integrate the channel into more and more of their everyday life making what you see more  realistic.

I use snapchat to share small, sometimes meaningless, sometimes funny excerpts from my day and I’m not worried about what people will think because they are short and sweet. If I really like a snap I’ll put it on my story and I know that people watching it will get to know more about me and what I’m up to. It’s really refreshing not having have to say where I am, how I’m feeling, who I’m with and tag those people with an @ or # – it simply is what it is.

What is Snapchat?

Let’s start with the basis of Snapchat for all the virgins out there. There are three key elements to snapchat:

Snaps – These self-destructing photos or videos last up to 10 seconds and you choose what to snap or film and whom to send these to. Users send these expiring messages because they allow for more intimate and personal conversations. Once a contact views your snap they cannot retrieve it.

Story – Your story is a collection of snaps that you want to share with everybody in your Snapchat contacts list. Your contacts can watch your story as many times as they wish and you can see who has viewed your story. Stories last for 24 hours but you can also now delete a snap from your story.

Chat – Snapchat facilitates one to one texts which disappear once you move away from the chat screen.

Now you that you are familiar with the basics it’s time to download the app and have a go at snapping. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Snapchat pro you can find a more comprehensive guide to using Snapchat here.

You might be wondering why I’ve taken the time to write a blog post about Snapchat? Well the user statistics show such an incredible amount of growth on Snapchat and it is something that you should be using if you’re not doing so already.

– Snapchat has 100m daily active users

This is admittedly nothing near the size of Facebook’s 31 million users in the UK alone with over 1.44 billion monthly active users worldwide. However, with Facebook’s increasingly limited organic reach on page posts, many brands have started to question just how many people are seeing page content and if they are getting any real value out of it. As such, brands are turning to other less ‘regulated’ social media channels which offer more freedom and interaction such as Snapchat.

– Snapchat users are active

65% of Snapchat users share content every day meaning there are 65,000,000 active users. Every. Single. Day.

– 9,000 photos are shared on Snapchat every second

That’s over 32 million images in one hour and 777 million in one day. Think of the potential interaction your brand is missing by not being part of the Snapping frenzy.

– Snapchat achieves 6bn video views every day

6bn Snapchat videos are incredible when you consider that Facebook amasses around 8billion and that’s across both mobile and desktop whereas Snapchat is just available on mobile.

Target Audience

From my mentoring work with Young Enterprise I quickly established that many teenagers use Snapchat for everything communication related; texting, sharing pictures, sending videos with audio, asking for opinion, arranging events, confiding in friends – it is the holy grail of communication for 12-16 year olds and it’s increasingly having more importance for older demographics as well.

If you are wondering how to use Snapchat especially if your target market does not fall into the 12-16 age bracket, fret not as Harvard researchers found that 36% of 18–29-year-old Americans use Snapchat and like many social media channels, more females use Snapchat (42%) compared to just 31% of men. Quite surprisingly, Ireland is the country with the most Snapchat users reported by Global Web Index.

Snapchat users by location

Why use Snapchat?

Through Snapchat you can reach a large audience who are choosing to watch your content with no ties, no requests for likes, shares and comments. But where do the benefits lie?

Snapchat enables brands to create and tell a story, it It gives an opportunity to show more than just the product packaging and strapline that you might use in a display ad or PPC, it gives a real opportunity to build a legacy around your product or service and create a brand personality. I believe that the most successful brands are those which have mastered the art of storytelling – and let’s be honest – we all know at least one person who has risen to the top, not because of their actual skill or ability but rather due to their art of telling stories and talking themselves into and out of situations and opportunities.

I certainly am not advocating that brands use Snapchat to be dishonest, but rather, use it to build a 360 story of what the brand stands for, to engage with followers and drive brand interest.

Here are 5 ways you can use Snapchat and the benefits you can expect to receive;

1. Showcase Your People

Every brand has a team of dedicated and skilled people behind it that turn the cogs, come up with brilliant ideas and spend long days and nights making the business objectives a reality. People love people – we love getting a glimpse into somebody else’s life, to make us feel inspired to achieve more for ourselves or to reassure us that actually, we are doing okay.

If you look around the office or factory floor I’m sure you will find a long list of people who have interesting and meaningful stories to tell about your brand. What about Tim the Technician who has worked tirelessly since the day the office opened the doors, where every company milestone for him feels like a personal achievement? Or Molly in Marketing who is tracking celebrity trends and sending daily product samples to Beyonce in the hope that one day you might get a RT. Every employee has a unique interpretation of your product or service, so hand pick a few who would be happy to step up and tell the world what it is that makes your brand special for them and how they contribute to making that happen. 

2. Use Your Avocados Wisely

The people who will be the most passionate about your product, apart from you, are your brand advocates. Every brand has at least a few really passionate customers that believe in what you are doing and have allowed your brand to make a real difference to their lives.

This is most evidently witnessed in the ‘healthy eating’ category where avocados, sorry I mean advocates for gluten free / sugar free / organic / low fat products which have been claimed to fight cancer, lower stress levels, reduce cellulite, change people’s bodies, attitude, mental health and confidence share their results, recipes, feedback, meal prep etc.

There are hundreds of thousands of healthy food bloggers and social media mavens in the UK and I think I must follow every single one on my Instagram as I’m bombarded with strawberry and coconut buckwheat crepes and nutty pea and quinoa bowls with cauliflower matcha mash on a daily basis. But these brands know what they are doing – they are creating and crowdsourcing content that advocates want to see and hear, thus further driving demand and purchase intention by nurturing the customer relationship. The validity of their product health claims are of course a separate matter.

If your brand can’t whip up a super skinny, super healthy, matcha, low sugar, cancer fighting, cellulite busting, cholesterol lowering soup made in 15mins for the whole family for a week, then forget it.

I joke, there are still ways to nurture your loyal customers and bring more on board by using your brand advocates. One of the great advantages of social media is the ability to create interactive communication between a brand and its followers. Not only can you send content directly to your followers, but they can respond to you, fostering a more powerful and authentic relationship.

Have you tried asking for opinion and feedback on your products and services via Snapchat? Chances are people will be more honest as their feedback is not ‘officially’ tracked as it would be in a survey response. As it feels less formal and more relaxed you can expect to get more responses and more insights.

Some things you can ask your followers on Snapchat are:

  1. What do you think of our new product or service?
  2. What would you like to see in our new product or service?
  3. Why did you choose us over “competitor brand”?
  4. How do you use our “product name”?
  5. What other products do you use “product name” with?
  6. What did you think of our new TV ad?
  7. Should we use packaging A or B?
  8. Where do you buy our “product name”?
  9. What else would you like to see from us in the future?

All of the questions above can drive product innovation, spark ideas and make you re-consider your retail distribution. Obviously, make sure your sample size is large enough to be fairly representative – we don’t want you overhauling the NPD process because of one comment from a joker.

3. Snapjack an Event

You don’t have to be physically present at an event to make it relevant to your brand or followers, as demonstrated by Audi’s 2014 Superbowl campaign in association with The Onion which clocked up 5,500 new Snapchat followers on the day of the Superbowl, more than 100,000 snap views, 2,400 campaign mentions on Twitter with 2,500 new Twitter and 9,000 new Facebook fans.

By knowing which events your followers are interested in, you can create meaningful and entertaining interactions with them even if you are not physically present. Some approaches taken by brands are sarcasm, humour, irony and of course the plain and simple jumping on the bandwagon. Of course, for events where you are present, use your locality to your advantage and provide live coverage and interesting snaps from the event and the people there. With a live event there are a number of content topics that you can implement:

  • Event location
  • Event audience
  • Your presence at the event
  • Your deals / offering at event
  • Surrounding area – city / locality / landscape
  • Your opinion of event
  • Audience / individual opinion
  • Live action from event
  • Behind the scenes
  • Catering/facilities/hospitality at event

4. Announce new products and services in real time

People use social media to receive offers and keep up to date with the latest news, so utilise this wisely and use Snapchat to announce new products or services in real time, giving your Snapchat followers exclusive access or a sneak peek.  NARS and American Eagle have used Snapchat to give people an exclusive look at their products, with the latter launching its Autumn 2014 clothing line early on Snapchat, building a complete picture around the launch and essentially curating the story instead of relying on press coverage and fashion bloggers to review and comment on the launch.


USA fast food outlet Taco Bell used Snapchat to launch a new product – its Beefy Crunch Burrito which has enabled them to reach over 200,000 customers with every snap – with 90% of followers opening the snap and viewing in its entirety.

5. Run Flash Sales and Exclusive Discounts

Many social media sceptics question the effectiveness of social media in driving online purchases and website visits but brands such as ASOS are using Snapchat to run flash sales and exclusive discounts with great success. Using Snapchat in this way creates an urgency for followers to buy and it motivates them to constantly check their Snap Stories to get make sure they are aware of new deals. By offering a time specific deal, people experience FOMO – fear of missing out, so they are likely to check your website and your deal as they know its time limited.

Making Snapchat work

Your brand’s Snapchat activity can be heavily influenced by whether you have a tangible product to offer or if your business is based around a service. Your target market will also influence your approach but there are opportunities for every type of brand if you think outside the box.  Even USA presidential candidates have embraced Snapchat to engage with millennials who may be voting for the first time. For a round up of the best in class Snapchat campaigns check out the Shorty Awards shortlist and see if you can find inspiration for your brand on Snapchat.

If you would like professional guidance with your social media strategy or a helping hand to jump on to the Snapchat bandwagon simply get in touch here or follow us on Snapchat at DigitalByEmma.

Emma is a digital marketing consultant who works with a range of startups, SMEs, brands and agencies to grow their digital marketing footprint globally.

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On February 09, 2016