Snapchat Marketing: Could It Help Grow Your Business?

Snapchat has captured the attention of those who use the visual social network daily. But is Snapchat marketing right for your business as a potential vehicle for growth?
October 19, 2016

There has been a lot of buzz around Snapchat recently. The quirky app that has everyone taking selfies with strange filters has become very popular with millennials, according to a 2015 survey of more than 2,000 18-29 year olds conducted by the Harvard University Institute of Politics. eMarketer reports that Snapchat has surpassed the user bases of Pinterest and Twitter, and that its growth rate "far exceeds that of mobile messaging in general." Through their own research, eMarketer estimates that Snapchat's ad revenues will near $1 billion in 2017. You don't earn money like that unless you've provided some sort of value to the people using your service, and Snapchat has done just that. And that means businesses are looking into Snapchat marketing more seriously.

Snapchat has created a sticky service that is hard to put down and even harder to explain to someone who's never used it. Many people may think of the visual social network as goofy, confusing and seemingly serves no purpose.

But you, fair business owner, don't have to care how useful Snapchat is. You probably just want to know if it will ultimately help increase your sales! I'll answer that question in a second, but first let me unpack what Snapchat is.

Snapchat Basics

If you don't already know how Snapchat works, it's very different from other social networks. Usually when you post something on social media, it's available for everyone to see unless you delete it. Snapchat operates almost entirely the exact opposite of the social network norm and deletes your content in a day. For starters, the “snaps" (photos or videos taken on Snapchat) can only be seen by followers within 24 hours of the original posting. The content can't be saved, linked to or accessed by others unless they screenshot your snap. You can only view the image for up to 10 seconds before it disappears.

If you're targeting (or trying to target) 18-34 year olds, you may want to look into Snapchat.

Snapchat is pretty simple on the surface: When it comes to actually creating content, you just whip out your phone and record a video or take a picture. Then you can add filters, text or emojis and send it off to your followers. You can add a number of images and videos together to create what Snapchat calls stories. Snapchat stories can be viewed infinitely until 24 hours have passed, and then they're deleted.

It's also important to consider how people use Snapchat. Snapchat is typically used when people have a moment of leisure time. People using the app want short, digestible content that is compelling. Snapchat stories are great for this. They allow you to tell a story about your brand without taking up too much time or attention. You can be brief, fun and to the point.

Is Snapchat Marketing for You?

So now that we've got the nuts and bolts of Snapchat down, let me answer the question you really want to know: Can Snapchat marketing help your business? There are certain industries that are better suited for Snapchat than others, and yours may or may not be a good fit for the quirky social network.

For now, Snapchat is the hot thing for younger people. According to the company, "on any given day, Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18-34 year-olds in the United States." If you're targeting (or trying to target) 18-34 year olds, you may want to look into Snapchat.

However, you'll probably need to dedicate time and resources toward your Snapchat marketing efforts. For starters, you have to actually create content on Snapchat that resonates with your demographic, which can take some planning. But unlike Instagram or Facebook, Snapchat users want raw, authentic and even unprofessional content. This is good news for you! Your snaps don't have to look perfect, and in fact it's not encouraged. The content just needs to look authentic.

Winning at Snapchat

In the Snapchat ecosystem, the goal is to be informal and clever, if you can pull it off. Stuffy business jargon, highly edited commercials and other canned marketing materials may not perform as well.

Here are some different ways brands have used Snapchat to engage with and grow their following.

  • Behind the scenes access: Pulling back the curtain and showing your followers what your company is like can be a great source for engaging content. You can show how your product is made, how your employees interact at work and other non-salesy things that might be interesting.
  • Exclusive coupon codes: If people watch through an entire story that you've created, consider giving them a coupon code to reward their dedication. This can help encourage your followers to pay attention to you in the future.
  • Give private content: Consider rewarding followers with private, follower-only content through Snapchat. Giving them incentive for following your account and interacting with your brand on the service can help your brand stand out.
  • Give sneak peeks of new products: You can give your fans a reason to be excited about following you by teasing new products that are coming soon. This can help build anticipation (and mindshare) while you're putting the finishing touches on the product.

If you decide to get started using Snapchat as a way to engage and attract customers, then there's no time like the present. But if you decide that Snapchat isn't a good fit for your company, that's okay too. There are plenty of other networks you can concentrate on that might be a better fit for your business goals instead.

Read more articles on social media strategy.

Photo: iStock