The essential guide to Snapchat for business

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Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms. Snapchat’s users doubled after the introduction of Stories, going from 200 million monthly active users to over 400 million in 2018.

Snapchat’s popularity shouldn’t be ignored by businesses. Active users tend to spend 30 minutes on the app.

78% of users are young (18-24) and almost 70% are female. Meaning Snapchat is a great place to engage with one of the most sought-after market segments in the world—millennial women.

Young people are a valuable market. Putting your brand in front of them not only drives engagement now, but you’re creating a brand loyalty with the generation that will soon hold the majority of the world’s wealth.

Let’s take a look at how Snapchat can get your brand in front of new potential customers.

Snapchat basics

Snapchat is a photo and video sharing app that sends content to selected friends for a short period of time. Once your friend receives your “snap,” it disappears within 1 to 10 seconds.

You can also use Snapchat to video chat with friends who are also active in the app.

Snapchat’s Story feature allows you to put videos and images on a single feed for friends to scan through and watch as many times as they like.

After 24 hours, anything uploaded a Story is deleted.

You can also send text messages within the app. They’re also deleted after a short period of time.

One of the things that makes Snapchat so unique is that the content isn’t permanent. It’s a brilliant concept because it means there’s always something new that users need to engage with.

What does that impermanent content mean for your business? For starters, it means that the content style is more laid back. You’ll notice some fancy ads and much-edited content from some bigger brands and fashion brands — like when Gucci let artists take over their Snapchat account for an hour per day:

Most businesses don’t need Gucci-level content. In fact, users on Snapchat want to feel the “realness” of your brand. They want a behind-the-scenes, unedited, uncut, look into your business.

Artist DJ Khaled is nicknamed The King of Snapchat. Most of his content is him, relaxing in his mansion, eating the meals prepared by his chef. This is appealing to users, but he’s really just living his life and Snapchatting along the way. Like in this Snap, where he’s relaxing in his jacuzzi:

DJ Khaled Snapchat

What is Snapchat used for?

Snapchat is used for many different things. I personally use to watch video snaps of my baby niece that my sister sends. I have friends who love watching their friend’s Stories. I have one friend that religiously watches Kylie Jenner’s Stories. My teenage brothers use it to send me text messages. In short, it’s a great platform for everything from following brands and celebs to chatting with friends and relatives – all with the connecting theme of casual, impermanent content.

There are lots of features for editing images and videos. Users make lots of use of these features, but Snaps don’t really need to be edited to perfection. Instead, the edits are used more for fun, as with the virtual reality/augmented reality filters that are one of Snapchat’s biggest draws. These filters can give you a mustache or wrinkles, make you spit rainbows or fire, or turn you into a dancing hot dog.

Check out this example of an augmented reality filter by Skittles.

snapchat skittles face filter example

Getting started

There are tons of ways your company can use Snapchat to engage with users.

Just keep in mind that one thing to avoid is starting customer service questions with Snapchat because, since Snaps disappear, you won’t have any convos recorded.

Create a profile

First, set up your Snapchat profile. You’ll want to create a business profile, so you can either download the app from the App Store (available for iOS and Android) if you’re on a phone—or you can visit this link.

You’ll select a unique username. If the name is taken, a thumbs down will appear—if it’s available, you’ll see a thumbs up.

create username example

Remember, it’s best to keep your company usernames the same across all social platforms. The only way users will find your profile is through your username, so make sure the name is simple and as close to your company name as possible.

Update your settings

Make sure you update your settings so that everyone within the app can see your Snaps. Since you’re a business, you shouldn’t restrict your views to just friends.

Navigate to your settings from the home screen. Tap the top left button. Then, click the top right settings icon.

Settings > Who can > view my story

Snapchat settings example

 

Change it from friends to everyone.

If you click the ghost icon on the home screen, you can update your profile, find users, scroll through friends, see who’s added you, etc.

Devise your plan

A company’s primary goal on social media should be to engage with their target market and direct them to whatever the company is selling. So, how can you get users from your content to a sales page?

Think about this before you start posting to Snapchat. Each post should be for a reason, with a clear goal in mind, not just an aimless effort to spur interest. Map out how users will likely engage and react to each piece of content you decide to post.

To get started, encourage users to follow you on Snapchat by sharing your new Snapchat account on your other social media profiles.

As your building your follower base on Snapchat, you can take clues from your other social media profiles as to what types of content your users prefer.

For example, let’s say you sell sneakers online and you’ve made the wise decision to automate your other social media channels with Sprout.

You glance at your Sprout Instagram Outbound Hashtag Performance and notice users are liking a ton of your content tagged with #redsneakerday. You could create some Snapchat posts around those same popular product.

Sprout IG hashtag report

You might create a Snapchat Story, where you show different people walking in various settings wearing your popular red sneakers. Maybe you show someone jogging on a track, another person hiking up a mountain, and another strolling in a museum or along cobblestone in a city. You can continue using your branded hashtag on Snapchat, too.

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a professional videographer like you might need to do for other channels, you could simply ask your friends to wear your sneakers and send you a video that they took from their phones. Remember, Snapchat is all about “realness.”

Send your first snap

To send a Snap, navigate to the camera screen (a.k.a. the home screen). From here, just tap the camera button to snap a picture or hold down the camera button to take a video.

You’ll know you’re recording video because there will be a red line that fills the white line around the camera button. One video recording is complete when the circle is full, but you can record multiple videos back-to-back. The videos will also play back-to-back, without interruption, when viewed by your audience.

Like we mentioned before, some of Snapchat’s most popular features are the filters. Geofilters add text overlays or augmented reality to a Snap based on location. So, if you’re at Joe’s Coffee Shop, you might see a filter pop up for Joe’s Coffee Shop.

Check out this example of a Geofilter from Gujarat, India.

Snapchat Geofilter example

Remember not to stray too far off brand within Snapchat—brand still matters, even when there are tons of filter options at your fingertips.

But don’t be afraid to let a little loose with brand guidelines when it comes to showcasing “behind-the-scenes” stuff. You could use Snapchat to showcase:

  • Manufacturing processes
  • Employees
  • Team outings
  • Workspace environments
  • New products/releases
  • Product teases
  • Celebratory content

Snapchat is meant to be less stylized than the other platforms. It’s more personal—which is one of the reason’s it’s so popular, particularly with young people. So, don’t go overboard perfecting each image or video that you share. People on Snapchat are looking for authenticity above all else.

Use Snapchat to your advantage

Snapchat for business purposes is still a lesser-known subject.

There aren’t nearly as many businesses competing for Snapchat user attention as there are businesses competing on other social media networks.

This is a huge advantage for you—beating your competitors to the punch and building a following for yourself before they get there.

Get creative with filters

You can get insanely creative on Snapchat. Taco Bell is infamous for silly filters on Snapchat. For example, check out their Cinco De Mayo filter from earlier this year:

Taco Bell Snapchat Filter

Hollywood also creates blockbuster Snapchat filters. Like this one from X-Men Apocalypse:

X Men Snapchat filter

Both of these filters are great because users are excited about them, and when they share their images with friends, they’re also sharing the branding from these campaigns.

Generate engagement

There are over 3 billion Snap videos, pics, and Stories created every day. That’s a lot of opportunities to get users interacting with your company. There are lots of ways to drive engagement on Snapchat. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways.

Hold contests

A great way to encourage more people to follow you on Snapchat is to offer Snapchat-only giveaways and promotions.

For example, let’s say you’re a digital agency. You could create a contest for a package of free social media graphic design work. You share this contest with your other social channels and encourage followers to follow you on Snapchat for a chance to win.

Check out this contest on Twitter by the Cleveland Indians encouraging followers to follow them on Snapchat. Not only does it engage their Snapchat audience, it also drives users to interact with their Twitter account too – expanding followings on both channels.

Cleveland Snapchat

Partner up

Find some Snapchat influencers and find ways to connect with them. You could also find other businesses with larger numbers of followers and ask to partner with them for a few posts. You can co-market your business with the help of others who share your same target demographic.

For example: If you’re a digital agency that does design work, you could partner with an SEO agency with more followers to create Stories that explain digital marketing tactics.

Check out this example, once again featuring the “King of Snapchat” DJ Khaled, partnering with Stride Gum.

DJ Khaled Stride Snapchat
Source: Wieden + Kennedy

Stay consistent

I’ve said this before—if there’s a golden rule for building a following on social media—it’s consistency. Keep Snaps coming on a consistent basis. Keep your brand image consistent across all of your social media profiles, Snapchat included. For example, if your go-to is a laid-back yet professional style, don’t suddenly curse every other word.

Engage back

As your brand grows, your fans are going to comment and engage with you. When they do that—don’t ignore them. Engage back, show them you appreciate their comments and likes. If people go out of their way, give them a shout out in your Snaps, better yet—share something they’ve Snapped.

Ask questions

Asking your followers questions encourages them to reply back to you. If you read our blog often, we practice this tactic by asking questions in the conclusions of our posts.

Questions don’t need to be complex. Simple questions are easier to answer. You might ask your followers:

  • What do you wish we offered that we aren’t yet?
  • How could we improve our customer service?
  • Would you rather us do _____ or _____?

Another great way to ask questions is to consider what’s relevant. For example, when football (American football) season is picking up – if your business markets to American dudes, you’ve got a golden opportunity to drive engagement with something that is trending.

You could ask:

  • Who’s going to win ______ or _____ ?
  • Who’s your all-time favorite quarterback?
  • Top 5 picks for Superbowl 2019?

Make great stories

Besides consistency and driving engagement, you need to focus on the quality of your content. Not so much in a “look and feel” way—remember Snapchat’s got a laid-back vibe.

Keep things interesting. Don’t just post pictures of your office or of your employees all day. Add your dog (people love dogs)!

Instead of sharing pics of your team, share pics your team takes. Or, share your customers’ content. You could try sharing industry news, or how-to videos.

Don’t forget to have fun

Snapchat is all about being footloose and fancy-free. If you keep it creative and consistent with your posting, you’re going to see more and more engagement.

Tell us about some of your most successful Snapchat strategies in the comments below!



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