So… Snapchat’s been getting a bit of negative press lately.
Okay, maybe more than a bit.
A quick Google search reveals that faith in Snapchat is dwindling fast.
It seems like every couple of days, people are claiming that Snapchat’s dead or dying.
Frankly? I’m not buying it.
Snapchat might be dealing with a few issues right now, but I’m not ready to give up on it just yet.
Why? Because it’s still a powerful marketing tool — if you know what you’re doing.
Plus, Snapchat has a history of being underestimated in the social media marketing industry.
When Snapchat first launched back in 2011, it was hard for most business owners to see its potential as a marketing tool.
And could you blame them?
An app that lets you send pictures that disappear afterward? What the heck can you do with that?
Six years later, it turns out that you can do quite a lot with Snapchat.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if you’re a small business or startup that isn’t using Snapchat, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.
And not just because it’s a social media platform that has a massively active user base, according to the official Snapchat website.
Ignoring Snapchat means missing a golden opportunity to get in on the future of B2C marketing and branding on social.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Snapchat’s success as a social media platform gives us a unique chance to analyze the way brands and consumers communicate.
Which means that before we understand how to maximize Snapchat’s potential as a marketing tool, we need to clarify what it means for businesses to communicate with their customers.
Before we get into all that fun stuff, here’s a list of what this article will cover:
- Building a funnel versus building a brand
- Break barriers with exclusive content
- Tap into the power of ads and influencers
The topic of Snapchat marketing is much more complex than a simple tactic or two.
The better you understand this platform, the stronger your future marketing campaigns will be.
Why Snapchat works
Okay, so first let’s address the elephant in the room.
In a world with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, why on earth am I recommending that startups use Snapchat as a marketing tool?
Well, for starters, Snapchat has some pretty promising data that makes incorporating it into your social media marketing efforts an attractive idea.
Just take a look at this infographic from Mediakix, where we can see that Snapchat’s user base is clearly built around a particular demographic.
But that’s just the appetizer.
The main course is that, at its core, Snapchat understands the way that their audience likes to consume and create content.
At the center of this is, of course, the camera.
While you and I might view Snapchat as a social media platform, Snap Inc. (Snapchat’s parent company) has stated that they are a “camera company”.
According to their company profile, the idea here is that Snap Inc. believes that “the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.”
And their data definitely seems to reflect that fact.
Why does this matter to you and me?
Because it lets us know what to expect.
Yes, businesses and brands with a younger audience are typically going to get the most out of their Snapchat marketing.
But it’s also important to note that if you want to engage with your target demographic on this platform, you’re going to need more than just a heavy emphasis on visual content.
You’re going to have to understand what compelling, engaging content looks like to a younger demographic and how to communicate with your Snapchat community efficiently.
Here’s a better look at what Snapchat looks like for brands appealing to that younger demographic, according to Mediakix.
First order of business, cameras mean that purely text-based content is out.
Are there clever ways to implement text into your visual content? Of course there are.
But if you’re trying to figure out how you can make your text-based content work on Snapchat, you’re asking the wrong questions.
The focus on this platform is on visual content like pictures and videos. Any content that doesn’t fit into that category is going to suffer when it comes to engagement.
One look at Snapchat’s ads section tells you there’s a clear focus on visual content here.
If you’re not making visual content, you’ll just end up competing for second place.
Adapt to your environment. Snapchat might be a strange deviation from what you usually expect from a social media platform, but that’s no reason to ignore it.
That brings me to my next point.
Right off the bat, I’ll say that if you could pick only one social media platform to connect with users and promote, I’d argue that Snapchat would rarely be the best choice.
If you’ve got a powerful brand or such strong name recognition that people are likely to follow you no matter where you are, then sure.
But unless your name is DJ Khaled, you’re better off steering people toward your other social media platforms.
Because there’s no true, dedicated hub for your content on Snapchat.
People can follow you and see your snaps for the day, but they can’t see what you posted yesterday or interact with your other followers.
Simply put, Snapchat is a great addition to a social media marketing strategy, but it’s rarely the only tool you’ll need.
Heck, even DJ Khaled, despite his strong Snapchat following, has an Instagram account.
At this point, some people reading are likely wondering why they should bother using Snapchat at all if it lacks such critical features.
But those people are missing the point of this platform.
When it comes to social media marketing, Snapchat was never intended to be a replacement to other platforms, but rather an addition to an already robust marketing strategy.
Snapchat can add depth to your marketing strategy, but how do you balance the need to add character to your brand with the desire to increase conversions and create a marketing funnel?
1. Building a funnel versus building a brand
Let me get this out of the way right now. If you go overboard in either of these categories, you’re going to miss out on some serious marketing potential.
Believe it or not, building a marketing funnel on Snapchat isn’t particularly hard.
Aside from the incredible value you can get out of Snap Ads (which we’ll be covering in detail below), there’s plenty of cross-promotion that you can do on your own via your content.
Take a look at how Gary Vaynerchuk cross-promotes on social.
But how do you cross-promote on Snapchat and drive traffic to other platforms?
You need to get those interested prospects and give them a call-to-action (CTA) that offers both a clear value proposition and has steps that are easy to follow.
There are a few straightforward ways that you can do this.
- Promote exclusive discount codes on your content.
- Create unique product or service launch campaigns on Snapchat.
- Provide CTAs that send them to other platforms.
But right here is where plenty of businesses lose perspective.
It’s important to keep in mind that while increasing conversions is incredibly important, it’s not the only reason we’re using Snapchat.
Snapchat is, for better or worse, a place where storytelling is king.
Here’s Casey Neistat with a snap that’s worth a thousand words.
The story you’re telling doesn’t have to be particularly complex or nuanced. It just has to be compelling.
Was your story entertaining? Did it make people laugh or brighten their day?
Were your snaps educational? Did they teach your audience something or give them insight into your industry?
If you want to tell stories on Snapchat, you’re going to want to find ways to offer content via visual media.
Here’s BuzzFeed offering their unique spin on visual content:
That leaves you with two options.
Each of these has their nuances, but generally speaking, you’re dealing with two styles of production value.
Despite the titles, don’t be fooled. A video with amateur production value can be just as impactful as a video with professional production value.
Amateur production value doesn’t mean that the content is lacking in the storytelling department. It just means that you shot it on an iPhone instead of on a professional camera.
And honestly? That’s okay here.
Here’s a snap from Chance the Rapper that might offer amateur production value, but it loses none of its value to his audience.
You get bonus points for creating a video with major production value for Snapchat, but some of the best brands on Snapchat produce most (if not all) of their content on their smartphones.
The reasoning here is simple. Snapchat users value authenticity and compelling storytelling.
All it takes is a few daily snaps where you give out free advice or share the wacky details of daily life at your business.
It’s really that simple to start building your brand on Snapchat.
Snapchat can help drive sales, and if you’re using it correctly, it should be increasing conversions.
But treating Snapchat like it’s all about hard selling and posting self-promotional content undercuts the value of this app as a branding tool.
Your ability to balance the CTAs with the content you’re putting out is going to determine how successful you are on this platform.
If you’re looking to get the most out of an app like Snapchat, you’ll need to strengthen your brand by using content that reinforces your marketing funnel with cross-promotion and CTAs.
2. Break barriers with exclusive content
At this point, we’ve established that building your brand is a crucial component of success on Snapchat.
Which is great, except there’s just one problem.
How the heck do you actually build that brand?
We’ve touched on the importance of offering value before, but we didn’t really discuss what that looks like on Snapchat.
Here’s an example of how Tesla tackles content creation on Snapchat:
The reason daily posts on things like workplace culture are such powerful tools is that’s what people have come to expect from Snapchat.
Above all else, it’s a chance to look behind the curtain and see your favorite brands and businesses in their natural habitat.
Imagine for a second that you’re a startup that’s just launched.
Like most businesses getting off the ground, daily life is going to be an interesting mix of productivity and chaos, no matter how well you’ve prepared for everything.
Instead of letting all of this go unnoticed, produce content that allows you to share your culture and reach people on a human level.
Even companies like Google don’t shy away from the less glamorous aspects of being a business.
Promoting your products is great, and you should absolutely do that, but building a powerful brand becomes a lot easier when you can connect with your audience.
In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “document, don’t create.”
Doing a major speech in front of a massive audience? Take 10 seconds and show your followers what it’s like behind the scenes of one of those events.
Headed to the gym? Take a few moments to share your thoughts of the day with your followers like Dwayne Johnson does.
A member of your startup team just did something interesting? Post it. It’s a low-cost way to create engaging content for your audience.
It’s much easier to share the inner workings of your company culture and the events of your daily life than it is to come up with several pieces of unique content daily.
Aside from being a massive time saver, it helps your audience feel a sense of intimacy with your brand that they likely aren’t getting from your competitors.
3. Tap into the power of ads and influencers
Arguably two of the most important aspects of success on Snapchat, Snapchat Ads and influencers are easy ways to jumpstart your social media presence.
And you’re going to want to use both. Let’s just say that organic growth on Snapchat can feel disappointing, to put it mildly.
Snap Ads are full-screen vertical video ads that can run for up to 10 seconds.
The versatility of these ads is one of their greatest strengths. They can be used to do everything from installing apps to visiting other websites.
These ads will appear between a friend’s stories or Snapchat’s curated content, which helps address the organic growth issue we mentioned earlier.
There are other types of ads on Snapchat, like Geofilters and Lenses, but those are a bit more complex to create, and these full-screen vertical ads are much easier to create.
Using Snap Ads is a bit of a no-brainer, especially when you consider how powerful they can be.
Forget about the sheer size of Snapchat’s active daily user base. Forget about the unique demographics that Snapchat can reach.
What really makes Snapchat Ads such an appealing option is the fact that it actually seems to work.
More than 60% of Snap Ads are played with the sound on, which is pretty impressive when you consider that most autoplay videos on social media end up being played without sound.
Influencers are the second part of this equation, with social media influencers having the ability to massively impact your marketing efforts.
How do influencers fit into all this?
My favorite aspect of influencers is that they come with their own targeted audience. If you’re looking to reach out to a particular demographic, they can be extremely helpful.
Kylie Jenner is a major influencer on Snapchat, where she plugs both her own products and other businesses she partners with.
Working with influencers can present its fair share of challenges if you’re not used to it, but the process is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it.
- Reach out to influencers that are a good fit for your business.
- Offer a clear vision for what your collaboration should look like.
- Maintain communication throughout the creative process to avoid either party feeling unsatisfied by the end.
With the right influencer promoting your brand, and the right Snap Ads running, your marketing campaign on this app can really start to take off.
Listen, I get it.
Snapchat looks like a strange creature at first glance.
It doesn’t have a central hub for your community to gather around.
It’s only built for one type of content.
All of your content disappears within 24 hours.
But despite all of these oddities, the people have spoken.
Snapchat is one of the most dominant social media networks out today, and incorporating it into your social media marketing strategy is an absolute must.
Fortunately, once you take a deep dive into this platform, you can see its potential as not just as a general marketing tool, but a powerful vehicle for branding.
What kind of success have you had with Snap Ads?