Snapchat for marketersWe have spoken about the importance of Snapchat before, but since its launch in 2011 it has continued to surpass industry expectations. With 100 million daily users and an estimated 200 million monthly active users, an average of 8,796 photos are shared every second.

Earlier this month it was reported that users are watching a staggering 10 billion videos a day. That is a two billion increase since February. But what is it about the app that is causing such a stir?

If Instagram is about who we want to be, Twitter is what we think and Facebook is a recording of what we have done, then Snapchat is about who we are. It is young, immediate and honest. Shared in real-time and unedited, Snapchat encompasses the spontaneous gap between what we live and what we share. For brands just dipping their toes, this means building authentic relationships with their audiences through good old-fashioned storytelling.

Its seamless sharing capability and simple ‘point and shoot’ process has revolutionised user-generated content and created a unique community for brands to engage with. It is fun, fleeting and millennials love it. Sure, some users may overshare and come Saturday morning you probably will have to click-through at least a few videos of drunk users lip-syncing to a song in the back of a taxi, but that’s part of it.

So this is us telling you: it is a big deal marketing-wise. But how do you know whether the app is right for you?

Who is already there?

Before you make the plunge, consider just who your target demographic is and whether your brand’s image is well aligned with the platform. It is important to remember, though, that there is no brand or business too old or too boring – there is only poorly created content.

According to Forbes, millennials account for more than 7 out of 10 users. Whereas the average TV viewer is 59 years old, Snapchat reports that 60% of Snapchat’s users are 13 to 24 years old. However, some analysts predict that Snapchat will soon evolve beyond this demographic and have a more evenly aged user-base. If these predictions prove fruitful, Snapchat will be an essential marketing tool for almost every business.

A recent study found that teenagers aged 13-18 reacted best to information they thought had been endorsed by their peers. In fact, they were more likely to like a social media post if it had already been liked by a friend or credible individual. The real-world effect this has can be detrimental to brands with low engagement rates; Snapchat however eludes this. Snapchat does not make your amount of followers or views public, meaning that all growth is organic and based on your content alone.

What brands are on there?

It seems everyone and their dog is on Snapchat, but it is not just for celebrities and selfies. Many brands use the app to promote products, events and give a glimpse into their inner workings. If you are unsure of where to start, observing what other businesses share and how they interact on the app can help you go in the right direction.

The Discover channel was launched in 2013 has since exploded, with media partners such as Cosmopolitan reporting an average of 19 million views a month. Sky News, Vice, National Geographic, Comedy Central and MTV have all since partnered with the platform.

The Wall Street Journal recently created a five-person team dedicated to its Snapchat content and Fusion has 10 full and part-time staff hired for the same purpose. The investment of resources and manpower are testament to this platform’s power.

Even politicians are jumping on the bandwagon. Jeremy Corbyn (who is also on Instagram) and the White House have both recently launched Snapchat profiles in a bid to connect with younger voters. Corbyn celebrated his birthday this week, all of which was dutifully recorded by his social media team, after all there is nothing more humanising than wearing a party hat.

Most brands do not have the reach or resources to partner with Discover or have the profile of a politician, but lessons can learnt from just how brands use the feature. Follow a few for inspiration.

What you can do next:

1. Collaborate:

Interestingly, influential individuals hold as much sway on Snapchat as they do elsewhere. Photographers, film-makers and artists are using this platform to not just share their work but to create it. Many of these users have large fan bases and are open to sponsorship and endorsements. Utilise them. Partner with them, collaborate and create a mutually beneficial agreement. Snapchat takeovers are becoming ever more popular, so why not try it?

2. Humanise your brand:

Snapchat requires a personal touch. Consider filming a day in the life of your office or meet-the-team videos.

3. Create video content:

It continues to be one of the fastest growing and most engaging mediums, but video marketing needs to be done well. Creating professional video for YouTube can be expensive, but the nature and length of Snapchat videos mean it is a cheaper and far simpler (but just as effective) alternative.

4. Offer incentives

Snapchat may keep all traffic within the app, but by offering sneak peeks at products, exclusive competitions and coupons, you can drive that traffic back to your site.

5. Use in-house talent

Millennials make up 46% of the B2B researcher demographic so it is worth using them to engage with their contemporaries. Encourage them to share stories and content that they feel would build credibility and engagement.

6. Use geofilters and locations

One feature unique to Snapchat is the ability to create your own geofilters and tags. One brand reportedly got 4,000 impressions from just a $30 investment over a four-hour block. These can be great tools for promoting products, events, businesses and communities.

As the app continues to grow, more demographics will be reachable via the platform. It is worth investing now before your competitors catch on and it becomes as noisy as Facebook or Twitter.

Photo credit: tanuha2001 / Shutterstock.com

Ben Hollom

June 3, 2016