Public Relations Tactics

‘Oh, Snap!’ How to Make Your Business a Snapchat Success Story

April 1, 2016


Eight billion times a day, someone opens the Snapchat app, takes a picture or video, and shares it with friends.

Let that number sink in: Eight billion times. A day!

So what is Snapchat? How can you reach its 100-million number of daily users? And how can you use the platform to promote your company or products?

The definition of Snapchat (proper noun) is: “A messaging app allowing users to send pictures and videos that will self-destruct after viewing. Users can also add photos and videos to their My Story section, which can be viewed for up to 24 hours. Text and graphics can be added to a photo before it is sent, as well as interactive filters and doodles.”

As you’ve likely heard, the audience for Snapchat trends young and the platform is an effective tool for reaching today’s much-sought-after consumer: millennials. According to Snapchat, 60 percent of 13 to 24 year olds in the United States are using the app, and 71 percent of users are 34 years or younger.

National brands are using Snapchat in a variety of ways, including photo filters and curated moments. One of the best examples of using the filter is Gatorade’s Super Bowl filter, which appeared to dump a cooler of Gatorade over users’ heads.

Last Valentine’s Day, Taco Bell shared funny, customizable cards with their Snapchat followers. With quirky messages like “Nacho Average Valentine,” the cards, featuring delicious-looking photos of Taco Bell food, were a hit.

Moments and filters are ways you can work directly with Snapchat. But what can you try before you take the big-budget plunge?

Here are some of the ways your business can use Snapchat:

Rock your 10 seconds.

Create a series of snaps that tell a story about your brand. Sharing a series invites users to engage with you, to see each new snap as a piece in the puzzle. One idea is to share what a day in the life of your company looks like, or follow a product from creation to shipment.

Don’t spam your followers. Snapchat users are looking for real, intimate engagements with brands — they don’t like people trying to sell to them. Make it fun and avoid boring content at all costs. Don’t take advantage of your audience allowing you into their lives because a single touch can delete the brand from their feed.

Use your 10 seconds wisely. If you have something quick to say, then say it. Don’t wait until the eighth second, because people have already lost interest and clicked through to the next snap.

Invite people ‘BTS.’

Everyone loves a peek “behind the scenes” (BTS). And even if you think your business or office isn’t exciting, you can still make the behind-the-scenes snaps fun.

Are you filming a commercial or shooting some products? Share some bloopers from the shoot, or some quick sound bites with the photographer or videographer. Are you preparing to announce a new product or launching a new service? Share some teaser clips.

This kind of access makes users feel “a part of it” and like they are receiving exclusive access. Use Snapchat to create a more intimate relationship with your consumers and fans, so users follow along to see behind-the-scenes activity, special sneak peeks, etc. With this relationship, you are allowing consumers to get a better look at your company and products, and giving customers a glimpse behind the scenes creates a level of trust that other social media platforms have not yet achieved.

Offer special deals.

Invite followers to share a photo using your product and offer a reward to those who do. Frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles was one of the first brands to master Snapchat. In 2014, the 16 Handles marketing team offered a contest: Snap a picture of yourself eating a cup of its frozen yogurt and you could receive a coupon worth anywhere from 16 to 100 percent off. This campaign was huge for the company, providing an incentive for customers to return and spend more money.

Another option is a scavenger hunt that engages your followers and ends in a prize for one lucky winner. The Montreal Canadiens hockey team does this, placing a prize at a specific location and snapping photo and video clues to the prize.

The key to a successful contest or giveaway on Snapchat is engaging your customers. Always look for fun ways to involve your followers, which will hopefully encourage them to come back for more.

Partner with influencers.

National retailer Wet Seal recently partnered with a 16-year-old blogger, letting her manage the company’s Snapchat account for two days. The promotion garnered more than 9,000 new followers for the brand, which was a huge success.

Choosing the right influencers can be absolutely instrumental for increasing your brand’s followers, and allowing someone else to come in and create content gives you authenticity, which is incredibly important to millennials.

Be real.

Don’t get hung up on the number of “followers” on Snapchat because it might take a little while for your real supporters to get on board. Share your snaps (with your Snapchat username) across your other social platforms to entice people to add you on Snapchat. And don’t worry if your content isn’t perfect! This platform puts more focus on sharing creative ideas and moments rather than trying to be “Instagram-worthy” every time.

Remember that Snapchat is all about being authentic and relatable. If you try a tactic and it lands with a thud, then try a different one next time. Be adventurous, and make it fun.

Bonus tip: If Snapchat isn’t the right platform for your brand, then don’t use it. Your resources (time, money, staff) need to drive ROI. Try new things, but keep in mind that there’s always going to be something new. If the latest platform doesn’t work for you, then move those resources to something that does work or try something new.

Is There Big Money in Disappearing Ads?

Ahead of an initial public offering of stock or possible sale, disappearing-message company Snapchat is being valued at a massive $16 billion and its business is expected to grow significantly in 2016, Re/code reported on March 7.

The company is targeting between $300 million and $350 million in revenue in 2016, six or seven times the $50 million it projected last year. But Snapchat’s business is still new and evolving, and advertiser interest remains experimental, making future revenue tough to predict.

If the $16 billion valuation is pegged to the company’s expected revenue for 2016, then those sales would amount to more than 50 times this year’s numbers, Re/code reported. By comparison, Facebook trades at a value of about 17 times its annual revenue.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said last May that the company has an IPO plan in place, and sale rumors have swirled. The company has a number of different revenue streams, all based on advertising. Its “Live Stories” let advertisers sponsor a montage of photos and videos about a particular event, like the NFL Super Bowl. In its “Discover” section, Snapchat splits revenue with publishers on ads that run alongside their content. The platform’s sponsored photo filters have become popular with political candidates. Bernie Sanders reportedly ran a nine-day Snapchat campaign before the Iowa caucuses. — Greg Beaubien

Stephanie McCratic
Stephanie McCratic is chief executive officer of Acorn, a Bentonville, Ark.-based influence company that builds profitable relationships between influencers and brands. Since its founding two years ago, Acorn has created successful campaigns for Johnson & Johnson, SC Johnson, Kimberly Clark, Wal-Mart and more.


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