4 Brilliant Snapchat Strategies for Marketers

Livestreaming satisfies so many of our social media cravings: it’s immediate, authentic, and makes every follower feel like a VIP on the right side of the velvet rope. Effective marketers have already had a few quarters of experience working with platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, and Instagram Stories. Because the medium is so new, marketers and social teams have all been livestreaming pioneers: experimenting, testing, and finding success in surprising places.

And though livestreaming may still be in its relative infancy, many of the platforms featuring the medium have already proven their worth: Snapchat now boasts 9,000 snaps per minute and 10 billion daily video views. Media companies and marketers for both B2C and B2B brands know they should build and hone an active Snapchat presence, if they haven’t already. But beyond simply using Snapchat, how can marketers claim an edge and really succeed on the platform?

We can start by looking to savvy celebrities who demonstrate the art of drawing in Snapchat audiences: When Kanye West’s he-said-she-said with Taylor Swift over lyrics to his song “Famous” reached a boiling point, Kim Kardashian swooped in with the receipts in a decidedly deft (and, as ever, self-promoting) way.

In a move any marketer might envy, Kardashian teased a big reveal on Twitter and Instagram —“do u you guys follow me on snap chat? u really should ;-)”—before posting her now-famous (infamous?) Snap. Kardashian expanded her social media reach, and proved why she’s a Snapchat must-follow by using the youthful, edgy platform to her advantage. After all, “what’s edgier than calling out America’s Sweetheart?” And two months later, people are still talking about Kardashian’s skilled reveal.

Marketers can learn important lessons from the above example about leveraging popularity on other platforms to gain followers in new spaces, like Snapchat. But the goal of Snapchat isn’t just to move your existing audience to another platform—you’ll have to play by the rules of the new platform. Snapchat has novel goals: users listen to each other by viewing each other’s content in the “My Story” section and commenting, thereby creating a back and forth in which the sharer feels heard and the viewer gains valuable insight into their friend. In terms of what users share, the best is “frequent, entertaining content — a mix between Twitter and Instagram.” Marketers will need to engage Snapchat followers in the right way to maintain an effective presence and healthy following.

To take advantage of Snapchat’s unique virtues and truly excel on the platform, marketers need a strategy:

1) Create the Right Content

Snapchat, by its very nature—ephemeral videos shot off-the-cuff—forces users to be authentic. Without glossy production value and scripted content, Snapchat presents the opportunity for an intimate, authentic peek at the inner-workings of a brand, which marketers can play up by speaking to fans intimately. Because Snaps feels like one friend talking to another, the content should match: In April, Warby Parker featured a Snapchat Story in which their Brand Creative Director shared his “five desk essentials.” Simple, straightforward, authentic, and intimate.

By offering insider access to content that isn’t available on your other platforms you can build the authentic relationships Snapchat users (70% of whom are Millennials) crave.

2) Involve Fans

Because Snapchat isn’t viral in the way other social media platforms are (someone following a brand on Snapchat has zero impact on the rest of their friends), brands need to engage with each individual user: offering chances at prizes in exchange for following is a good strategy, and promoting individual users might be even better. Fan engagement is big on Snapchat: in fact, experts say there’s more fan engagement on Snapchat than on any other social platform. Enticing followers to interact with your brand builds truly loyal fans. Ask for fan participation: have followers send in photos and videos of themselves with your product, and feature the best ones on your account.

You can also build anticipation for an event: before the Superbowl last year, Mountain Dew launched a completely fan-driven Snapchat campaign for their new breakfast drink. Mountain Dew created a real-time choose-your-own-adventure Snapchat Story and turned passive viewers into active participants by having their fans vote on each sequence of events. They doubled their Snapchat following in two days.

3) Employ Geofilters

All users can now create and purchase exclusive Snapchat filters that are then made available to everyone in a particular geographic area. Geofilters are great for marketers because they hone in on certain audiences, creating targeted awareness. Plus, they draw fans in with exclusivity and special offers--you can offer your fans a discount code in exchange for a Snap, which is a great way to generate concrete metrics since coupon codes are trackable.

Geofilters work particularly well for brands promoting new store openings because you can ensure the content you share is highly relevant to the audience with whom you’re sharing.

4) Consider Your Viewers’ Perspective

When creating a snap, think about how your followers will experience it: are you posting footage of a crowded, loud event (like a concert or a rally) or is the sound low-quality for another reason (like wind or excessive background noise)? Then go silent—really, sometimes audio can work against you if it’ll mostly annoy or frustrate. You might also consider posting audio-free snaps to make your story stand out in another way, writes Entrepreneur.

Snapchat offers great opportunities to marketers and brands: you can reach younger audiences who you might miss elsewhere, and you can feel more free to test different marketing methods. But, though Snapchat has many virtues, not everything is right for the platform. There are some types of content and messages—like announcements and important information—that work better on other, more permanent platforms, writes Entrepreneur.

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Julia Eddington

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Julia Eddington is a freelance tech and personal finance writer and editor living in New York City.