Snapchat, the mobile messaging app allowing you to send videos and pictures that self-destruct after a few seconds of a person viewing them, has made its way to be one of the most popular social media platforms of today.
Created in 2011, Facebook was reported to have made a $3 billion offer for the app, which was turned down by founder Evan Spiegal. Now, over 100 million active users and 10 billion daily video views later, Snapchat is one of the best platforms for reaching 13-34 year olds.
How It Works
There are two ways in which brands today produce content on Snapchat.
Snapchat Discover is a collection of big media channels who partner with Snapchat to produce all-new content on a daily basis. These are companies such as CNN, Buzzfeed, Vice, ESPN, and Cosmopolitan, who produce a high volume of Discover content (in some cases via teams focused exclusively on content development for the platform itself). This content appears directly at the top of the user’s screen, giving it prime real estate in the app.
Because Snapchat Discover also includes ad integration, some of the content these media channels produce is sponsored by other big brands who pay for visibility. For example, Maybelline might sponsor a video ad that appears in the Cosmopolitan Discover Channel. This works well for large, non-media brands who don’t have their own Discover Channel but do have a nice advertising budget.
But another way of participating that any brand large or small can get behind is Snapchat Stories. These are a collection of self-produced snaps that you can post directly (all you need is a Snapchat account) that your followers can view for up to 24 hours.
This is the same for brands as it is for individual accounts, so your “My Story” is effectively your brand’s personal Snapchat feed that others follow in the same way they follow their friends.
So what kinds of stories should you post? Your brand can Snap:
- Live events
- Behind-the-scenes of an event
- Product or event promotions
- Award shows
- Day-to-day culture
Anyone who follows you will have the opportunity to view each story, and it lives for 24 hours before it disappears, making room for new content.
A note about the disappearing function: some brands may balk at the idea of investing in content that is “temporary,” but don’t let it discourage you. Why? Consider that Twitter has a comparable fleeting-style functionality. And like Twitter, Snapchat is all about the real time—making a short, but lasting, impression.
So what’s the appeal? It can all be boiled down to this: Snapchat parallels real life. It’s essentially a shared conversation between two people, disappearing just moments after it’s over. And it’s only between those involved; it can’t be archived for others later.
Snapchat is authentic in the sense that it’s the place where you go to be yourself, made easy by the app’s built-in real-time functionality. And as a brand, you’re not obliged to craft advertising or promotional content. Instead, Snapchat allows a level playing field where it’s less about marketing to your audience and more about talking to them. That makes it as great for customer service opportunities as it does for a casual behind-the-scenes tour around the office. It could be this friendly tone that leads to much better fan engagement than you thought possible.
What’s more, in the midst of the implementation of feed algorithms for other popular social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Snapchat does not yet have an algorithm that decides who sees which snaps. Simply put, this means that as a brand, you can get a message directly in front of all of your fans—without paying a fee to promote it.
Is it right for you?
Snapchat isn’t just a social platform for teens. It’s made its way into the social landscape as a space for marketers who want a creative way to reach their target audience. And with the continued rise of video as one of the most popular forms of fan engagement, Snapchat might be a good way for your brand to enter this space.
If you’re thinking of implementing it into your social strategy, just make sure you’re sharing the right content. Test different types of snaps, and don’t be afraid to ask your followers what they’d like to see from you. After that, it’s all about growing your audience so the most people possible can see what you’re snapping.