Snapchat is a social network that allows users to send “Snaps”—pictures and videos—to their followers. It’s a bit like Instagram in some ways, but in other ways it’s definitely not. We’ll talk more about how the app works later, but the closest things I can think of to describe it to you is sort of like a cross between Instagram and Periscope.
Think Snapchat can’t help your business? Think again. Take a look at some of these statistics:
- Over 150,000,000 people use the app daily
- Over 10 billion videos are watched on Snapchat daily
- 41% of 18-34-year-olds in the U.S. use the app daily
- Over half of new signups are over age 25
Not only does Snapchat get a massive amount of traffic each day, it’s also incredibly effective. Their ad platform did a study that tested things such as eye tracking, emotional responses, and surveys, and the results were impressive.
It found that Snapchat ads:
- Got twice the visual attention of Facebook ads
- Got 1.5 times more visual attention than Instagram ads
- Were 1.3 times more effective than YouTube
Let’s take a look at what makes it successful.
Okay, I get it. Snapchat is one of those social networks that a lot of people don’t “get”. But remember, Twitter was once also misunderstood by a lot of people, and now it seems most people have a Twitter account.
A lot of people think it’s only for younger audiences, but a pretty big chunk of Snapchat’s user base is actually 30+. It’s definitely not just for teens and tweens, nor is it just a sexting platform like so many people seem to think.
As I mentioned before, the best way I can think of to describe Snapchat is a bit like a cross between Instagram and Periscope. (Periscope, if you haven’t tried it, is a live broadcasting app where your content disappears after a short period of time.)
Snapchat users post “Snaps”—photos or videos—to their followers. Users only have 10 seconds to view those snaps before they disappear forever, but they can take a screenshot during that time. There are tools that can automatically save all the Snaps you post so you can post them on other networks like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. So don’t think that just because Snaps appear for only 10 seconds that they’re not worth posting!
Better than Snaps are Stories. Stories appear for 24 hours, and they are much more effective than simple Snaps.
Think of a Snap as being a bit like a television commercial in the days before DVR and rewinding live TV. You watched the commercial, and once it’s gone, it’s gone (at least until the next time it aired). If you wanted to write down a phone number or address, you had to be quick. But those commercials still accomplished a lot!
Snapchat isn’t some “perfect” marketing method by any means, but then again, none of the social media sites are “perfect” for marketing. Each one has their own set of flaws that makes them tricky to use. You just have to learn how to make the most of each one.
Fortunately, Snapchat is ridiculously easy to use. If you’ve struggled to get the hang of sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, don’t worry! Snapchat is crazy simple.
It’s also a lot more effective for marketing than you probably think, especially if you want to appeal to the coveted under-30 age group, which makes the bulk of the Snapchat user base. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of users over the age of 30, too!
They also have an ad platform, but they are reportedly asking for $750,000 per day to advertise on their platform. Fortunately, marketing on Snapchat for free can be just as effective, and that’s what we’re going to focus on in this guide!
So let’s begin.
The first thing you need to do is download the Snapchat app. It’s available for both iOS and Android, so if you have a fairly recent smartphone, you’re probably good to go. The app is free, and it’s available on the iTunes app store and Google Play.
Once you have the app, you’ll need to create an account. It’s important to choose a good username, because this is how people will identify you on the site, and you can’t change it. For this reason, be sure you type the username you want correctly.
Most people either choose some form of their name as their username, or they use the name of their website or company. You’ll want to choose whatever you want to brand with your Snapchat marketing—whether that is you personally, or your company or website.
Many people use the same username on Snapchat as they do on Twitter to keep things consistent. It’s easier for people to remember to message you @yourname on both Twitter and Snapchat if they follow you on both platforms.
Once you’ve signed up, you need to find some people to follow. You can tap the ghost logo at the top of the screen to bring up the user menu, and then click “Add Friends”.
On this page, you can add people in different ways:
- Add by Username – This lets you look people up by their Snapchat username, but you either need to know their username to add them, or search for it and hope they used an easy-to-find username. For example, to find Taco Bell on Snapchat, you just enter “tacobell” without quotes and tap the button to add them once they show up in the search results. See why it’s important to choose an easy-to-remember username?
- Add from Address Book – This will search through your contacts and let you add any of them who are on Snapchat.
- Add by Snapcode – Snapcodes are those little yellow squares that fuction like QR codes. You can take a picture of one or download one and then choose it from your camera app to add that person on Snapchat. Apps like GhostCodes help you find people to add by interest, and you can download their code to your phone and upload it in the Snapchat app to follow them.
- Add Nearby – This will use your current location to find other Snapchat users and add them. But be aware that other people will see your username locally, so if you’re worried about privacy, don’t use this feature.
Once you’ve added some people, you’ll want to make sure your settings are ready for marketing.
To find your settings, tap the ghost icon to open your username page. Then tap the cog at the top right. This will open your settings.
The first setting to look for is “Contact Me”. This is set to “My Friends” by default, but you might want to set it to “Everyone” to allow more people to contact you about your products or services.
Next, under “View My Story”, you’ll want to set that to “Everyone”. This way, if your friends share your stories, other people will be able to see them, getting you more views.
Finally, in “See Me in Quick Add”, you might want to be certain this is on. This way, you will appear to the friends of your friends, thus potentially garnering more followers with no effort.
Don’t forget to add a picture to your Snapchat code! To do this, just tap the ghost icon, then tap the yellow QR code thing. This will let you take a picture (it will be animated!) to show up inside the ghost on your code. Most companies use their logo here, but you can also use a moving picture of yourself. Be prepared, because it will take a couple of seconds of video to create the animation. If you want to show your logo, hold your phone still while the image is taken.
The previous image is an example of what a Snapchat code looks like once it’s been customized. GrubHub has simply used their logo.
Don’t forget to announce your Snapchat on your blog, website, and other social media accounts. You can either post your Snapchat username so people can manually add you, or post your Snapchat code so people can download the image and scan it within the app.
Creating a marketing plan for Snapchat is actually extremely important, because it’s just so different from other social platforms. When you send a user a Snap, it’s generally a lot more personal than media on other platforms, because you must send Snaps directly to users. This gives it a much more personal feel, which increases engagement and response.
Let’s take a look at some of the types of content that have seen success on Snapchat:
- Behind-the-scenes footage
- Real-time news and updates
- Contests (especially flash contests)
- Short instructional content (mini-tutorials)
- Product previews
These are a few examples of the types of things you can share on Snapchat, but just about any type of content can work as long as it fits within the short format.
But remember, content must be memorable to be useful on Snapchat. Because content disappears so quickly, it’s vital to post only content that will really capture attention and interest.
When you create a marketing plan for Snapchat, it’s a good idea to observe some other successful brands on Snapchat, such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Sour Patch Kids, and Gatorade. These brands have had some truly inspired campaigns that really got their companies a lot of attention, increasing their profiles considerably.
Make sure you have clear goals in mind when you create your campaign. Snapchat’s strength isn’t direct selling, so it’s best to use the platform to increase your profile on other outlets, or just your brand in general.
For example, you could hold contests to increase your follower count on various platforms. Or you could just post silly behind-the-scenes pictures and videos as a way to connect with potential customers and increase brand awareness.
Goals will help you choose the best types of promotions to add to your Snapchat marketing plan.
There are two types of content you can send on Snapchat—Snaps and Stories. Snaps are single pictures or videos that can be up to 10 seconds long. Stories are basically collections of pictures and videos, and they can be viewed multiple times over a 24-hour period.
Snaps come in two varieties—pictures and videos. To take a Snap, you either tap the circle in the center of the screen at the bottom to take a picture, or hold down the circle to take a video. Remember, videos can only be a maximum of 10 seconds.
Once you take your picture or video, you have the opportunity to delete it if you don’t like it. Just tap the “X” at the top left of the screen and you can then try again.
To change the length of time someone can view the content before it disappears, tap the clock icon at the bottom left. This will let you choose any length of time up to 10 seconds for your Snap to be viewable. Remember, people can take screenshots during this time!
If you want to write on your Snap, tap the center of your screen. Then you can type a caption for your picture. You can move the text around on the screen by holding it with your finger and moving it around.
You can also draw on your Snap (yes, even videos) by tapping the pencil icon, or add stickers by tapping the square sticker icon (that has a peeling corner). This is a great way to get more attention to your photos or videos!
If you like the Snap, you can also download it for use on other social media sites by clicking the download button, which looks like an arrow pointing downward into a box. This will save the Snap to your camera so you can use it elsewhere.
When you’re ready to send your Snap, tap the white arrow on the blue circle. Then you can choose a recipient (or multiple recipients) for your Snap.
The other form of media you can use is called Stories. Stories are collections of media that appear in your account for any of your friends to view for 24 hours from the time you create them. They can be watched by anyone who follows you an unlimited number of times during that 24-hour period.
Stories are great, because they allow you to send multiple related pictures and videos all at once instead of spamming your followers with a bunch of individual messages. These Stories can be much more powerful than individual Snaps, but they must be a cohesive unit to be effective.
So what makes a good Story, and when should you use a Story instead of a Snap?
Well, Snaps are great for quick, one-off images, such as a picture of a new menu item at a restaurant, a new clothing item you just bought, or a picture of your current location.
Stories are meant for things such as live events (like concerts, for example) where you’d like to add multiple photos or videos, or for things like instructional content where you could take photos or short videos of the various steps involved, such as for a craft project or recipe.
HubSpot has a great article on stories here if you want more information on using stories:
As you’ve learned in this guide, Snapchat has a massive user base of millions of users who are active on a regular basis. Over 150 million people use the site daily! With this kind of built-in user base, it’s hard to keep ignoring it as a valid marketing channel.
Not only is there a massive user base, but the platform is also remarkably effective as a marketing tool. Snap Ads are reported to be extremely effective and profitable. Engagement is much higher than other platforms, and although direct selling isn’t one of its strong suits, raising brand awareness most certainly is!
Considering it only takes a few minutes to post content on Snapchat, and it’s free, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be giving it a shot. What have you got to lose?
Remember, content should be short, and grab attention quickly. Snapchat is all about short and sweet, kind of like Twitter. If you don’t capture attention immediately, your ads will be ineffective.
All you have to do to get started is download the app. It’s free! So go download it and get started!
Best of luck!