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Snapchat for non-millennial marketers

Nadine Long

June 2016

If you follow any brands on social media – and what red-blooded capitalist American doesn’t? – you’ll have noticed that they’re all joining the latest and greatest social channel: Snapchat.

Brands are jumping on this bandwagon because Snapchat is clearly gaining traction beyond its earliest group of users: teens. Much like Facebook, adults are joining the platform in droves to ruin everything (although teenagers appear to be adapting beautifully). While 60% of users are still between the ages of 13-24, the olds are gaining ground, with users aged 25-55+ having increased from 16% in 2015 to 40% of users in 2016.

No matter your age, Snapchat is addictive: 60% of Snapchat users create content daily.

Snapchat 101

Snapchat gained an early, not-so-squeaky-clean reputation as a channel for sharing, ahem, personal pictures.

suggestive emojis

Although that’s certainly one use for Snapchat, most users engage in much more innocent uses of the platform: sharing snaps (photos and videos) of their day, overlaid with text, emojis, and filters.

Snaps are temporary. Anything you post disappears within 24 hours. This can be frustrating or freeing – for brands, dedicating precious time to content that will disappear can feel wasteful. On the flip side, the 24-hour expiration allows you to post and share things you wouldn’t normally create for other, more heavily curated channels.

Snaps or Stories?
One of the biggest learning curves I’ve noticed among Olds (I, of course am a millennial, and therefore all technology is like an extension of one of my limbs) is understanding stories. There are two ways to send snaps: directly to specific friends in your list, or to your Story, which is a compilation of snaps that all of your friends can see. Think of direct snaps as direct messages on Facebook, while your story is your news feed.

In September 2015, Snapchat took its in-app technology to a new level and launched lenses, which let you take your selfies to the next level with a pretty sleek face-mapping engine (so sleek that Facebook has purchased Masquerade, a similar lens app). New lenses appear most days, so your lens addiction has constant fresh fodder. Brands can purchase sponsored lenses – more on that later.

Snapchat has a host of other features, including live event feeds (daily feeds covering national and international events and travel destinations); live chat, which lets you chat directly with friends who are currently on the platform via text or video; and Discover, which features news feeds from content providers like CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central and National Geographic.

Things to Know About Snapchat

Whether you’re a total n00b to the platform or have been using it for a while, there are some considerations to make before you kick off your brand’s Snapchat channel.

Snapchat isn’t for every brand.
It’s always tempting to launch your brand onto the latest social media channel. But if you’re not positioned to create the right content, Snapchat is going to be a stretch for you. The best brands share in-the-moment posts. The platform lends itself really well to retail, travel, and lifestyle brands. Food and beverage can be fun, as long as you have the resources in place, leading us to …

Snapchat can be a timesuck.
If you have a small marketing team, it’s tough to manage Snapchat. Snapchat isn’t built for team channel management (at least not yet): you have to log completely out of each account you manage every time you want to switch profiles. Because of the point-of-view style of Snapchat, the best brand channels have one person (maaaybe two) running the account at all times.

Snapchat forces you to let go.
As a content strategy agency, we love planning. We love calendars. We love curation. We love spending maybe a little too long making sure a photo of a product looks great. With Snapchat, your editing options are really limited. If you’re covering a live event, there aren’t really retakes. For consumers, this is refreshing: as brands have gotten savvy to content marketing and social media marketing, consumers are constantly served highly curated content, sometimes down to small details about us. Seeing something that’s a little rough, behind-the-scenes, funny – that’s Snapchat gold.

Let’s Do This!

Still think you’re ready to post to the ghost? Here are some steps to success.

Get to know the platform before you create your brand channel.
Create a personal account first.

Play around with filters.
Take a picture or video, then swipe left or right to see different filters. Most cities have geofilters depending on where you are, so be sure and try out filters in different areas to see what’s out there.

Experiment with lenses.
Switch the camera to selfie mode, then tap and hold on your face. Swipe through lens options.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.
A fear of posting something dumb should never stop you on Snapchat. Over time you’ll refine your approach and your snap game will improve.

Need assistance? The closest 13-year-old to you can probably help you.

Observe other brands
… and popular accounts to get a feel for what might work for you.
Follow interesting accounts:

And definitely get to know the platform before you advertise.
With the wave of brands embracing Snapchat, there’s a new branded lens or filter on Snapchat almost every day. Some are more effective than others, although certain campaigns, like Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo lens that turned your entire face into a taco, are so absurd that they’re successful: the Taco Bell lens was used 224 million times and users played around with the lens for an average of 24 seconds before sending to friends.

Snapchat Measurement

Understand that measurement is limited, and fleeting – for now, at least.
Unless you’re running a paid campaign with Snapchat, knowing if your content is effective is an ongoing process. Your content disappears after 24 hours – and so do your view counts. You have to log in and check view counts pretty regularly if you want to gauge success by the numbers.

It’s even tough to keep track of your total followers, unless you’re really meticulous about tracking this number daily.

Snapchat also isn’t really in the business of driving site referrals or lead generation – which is a part of most good social media strategies. It really is a sharing and engagement tool above all else.

There are some Snapchat analytics platforms out there, but most come with a pretty high price tag for a platform that you’re dipping your toe into.

As the platform grows, we can hope for better organic measurement tools built in, as well as new analytics platforms (or, even better, Snapchat measurement built into our favorite existing social media measurement platforms).

… oh, and follow NATIVE.


More Snapchat Resources