In its infancy, (back in 2011), SnapChat was little more than a private messaging app that allowed users to send "self-destructing" content back + forth. Photos + videos could be sent to a group or an individual, and they could be viewed by the recipient only once.
The platform seemed to appeal to a younger audience + became a secret way to communicate with no residual evidence after it was deleted from the app (unless someone took a screenshot, in which case you were notified). To be honest, I was reluctant to try it, seeing no real value or benefit that wasn't available via iMessage.
Yes, I'd become that old lady who was terrified of the way the "kids" were communicating these days.
CUT TO THE PRESENT...
SnapChat now has over 100 million daily users, (71% of those being between the ages of 18-34). The app has made quite a few upgrades to the original platform, so I finally jumped on the SnapChat bandwagon. Although, not at all gracefully...
In a style similar to my parents learning how to use Facebook, I fumbled my way through my first few snaps. Videos went live with my hand held over the microphone, and I posted photos that were set for 12 seconds, which is about 10 seconds too long. #HelpMe #ImNew
SnapChat is not very intuitive, and it definitely doesn't make it simple for users to find + follow others. So, it's like being inducted into a super secret + exclusive club when you finally figure out what the hell you're doing. But, once you get it, it's completely addictive. (COMMENCE VICTORY DANCE!)
The app still allows users to send single snaps to each other. Instead of the content being deleted after the first watch, users can elect to view it one more time before it disappears forever. There is also a chat option to communicate via text.
Additionally, you can create a STORY, which is essentially a chronological stack of media posted over a period of time to communicate a longer narrative. You can create a mix of video + photo content, and each snap is available in your story for 24 hours. You can customize your content by adding text, emojis, filters (some have stickers that are specifically available based on your geographic location or an event/holiday), or even draw on them with digital crayons. The possibility for creativity here is HUGE.
It was with the addition of the story feature that businesses really started to realize the marketing potential on this platform. Unlike an Instagram feed or a Pinterest board, the content is much less curated + much more real. The spontaneous factor is what makes SnapChat feel a little more human. It's raw + risky, seemingly more authentic.
AND IT'S JUST PLAIN FUN.
So, the question here is how are businesses using the app to market to consumers? And, how can you possibly incorporate this platform into your content strategy? Well, let me count the ways...
1 | BEHIND THE SCENES / LIVE EVENT
By snapping a live event or showcasing a project behind the scenes, you can tell the story as it's happening from a more realistic viewpoint. The beauty is in the amount of content you can share in one day. While you can post a single behind the scenes shot of the event on Instagram, you wouldn't want to clog the feed with multiple photos all at once. With SnapChat, you can document the entire day, and continue updating your story to keep your followers engaged without it being annoying. It also feels very personal to the viewer, getting a sneak peek at something they wouldn't normally have access to.
2 | GIVE FOLLOWERS EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Like I mentioned before, it's not entirely easy to find + follow other users on SnapChat. However, you can share your username or QR code on your other social platforms or perhaps through your newsletter, physical businesses can display their Snapcode for customers to capture. Encourage your audience to follow you on SnapChat for exclusive content that can't be seen on your other platforms. You could create special weekly snap-segments that users look forward to or even launch a new product, allowing your followers on SC to get a first-hand look at it before anyone else. Send new followers personal snaps to say thank you when they follow. Give them a reason to find you there + then hi-five them for sticking around.
I teased the launch of my blog + business by alerting my followers on Instagram that I was doing an "Unboxing" over on SnapChat of an item I would be giving away. The screenshots below are from that series of my story. I created an entirely different photo for Instagram + then shared the full story only with those who hopped over to follow me on SnapChat.
3 | SHARE CONTESTS OR COUPON CODES
Since each snap in a story lasts 24 hours, you can plan a campaign, in segments, ahead of time. Encourage followers to view your snaps to find coupon codes or hidden info in your content. You can ask them to screenshot a certain frame + bring it to your location or tweet the photo for a discount. Hide a secret word in one of your snaps + have followers enter it on your website for exclusive access to a deal. Encourage engagement by having your audience send snaps to you + choose a winning entry from those for a prize. The trick here is to understand the way people use the platform + then create a contest or promotion around user behavior that works for your brand.
4 | SNAPCHAT TAKEOVER BY AN INFLUENCER
We were at a concert not too long ago with a friend of mine, (who is a professional skateboarder), + he is sponsored by a well-known brand. The brand asked him to snap the event from their account. I thought this was brilliant. The company had eyes on the ground through someone relatable to their followers, snapping in real time. All they had to do was give him access to the account + some general guidelines + BOOM: Instant Engaging Content. Similar to an Instagram takeover, businesses can partner with on-brand influencers to show their audience a unique perspective. Research influencers in your niche + see if you can work with them to create something exciting for your followers.
UPDATE: I was recently asked to do a Takeover for Later (formerly Latergramme) on their new Snapchat account. It was super fun, and I taught my Flat Lay tips to their followers.
CHECK IT OUT HERE:
5 | COMMUNICATE + ENGAGE
You will never stop hearing me say: "This is social media, so you need to be social". For example, on SnapChat, your snaps shouldn't always be one-sided. You can draw + add text to your photos, asking your audience for their opinion, or have them answer questions or take a survey. You can make videos (remembering the time constraints) that allow you to engage with your followers, asking them to send video or photo responses back. They can also respond to you via the chat feature. Opening up that direct line of communication is very powerful + helps you to feel more human to your audience.
OK, READY TO SNAP?!
I'm going to practice what I preach. I will be sharing exclusive Snap-Only content, hosting contests + giveaways, + giving you guys access into my life behind the scenes. I would love to meet you. So, your homework is to get yourself an account if you haven't already, then find me...
I can't wait to meet you guys + see all of your creative snaps!
Are you already marketing yourself or your business on SnapChat? Let me know how it's going in the comments below. I would love to hear what's working for you... Happy Snappin' everyone!