Bursting onto the app scene in 2011, Snapchat saw extremely rapid growth as a social communication platform.
A mobile app that allows users to send photo or video messages known as ‘Snaps’ that delete automatically once viewed, the platform has proved particularly popular with young adults aged 18 to 25, who account for more than 60% of the app's users (UK Business Insider).
With over 100 million active users (Statistic Brain), and the introduction of the 'Live' and 'Our Story' features, increasing numbers of businesses are utilising Snapchat to tap into new markets.
Reaching Your Customers
Setting up your account is simple, and once you're up and running you can begin building your following. Let your customers and followers on other networks know to add you and provide your username, then get snapping.
Send direct Snaps - photo or video, but be sure to keep it interesting. Your Snaps will self-destruct after 10 seconds, so make them count.
For a better chance at creating a lasting impression, the 'Story' feature allows you to add Snaps together to create a narrative. Stories are available for 24 hours and allow you to see who has engaged with your posts - valuable information for an evolving strategy.
If you’re considering taking on Snapchat for your brand, first take a look at the pros and cons:
Target customers with a knowledge of your brand: Use your other channels to let followers know you are on Snapchat and users will be able to search in the 'Stories' page to find your business by username. These users are already engaged, and therefore more receptive to your content.
Snapchat has a clear user age range (under 25): If you're trying to reach a younger audience, Snapchat could be an effective way to reach your target market. The number of businesses using the channel is currently fairly modest, presenting early adopters with an advantage - reaching young people who are beginning to turn away from other social media networks clogged with business updates and promoted content.
There is little to no cost involved: All you need is your phone and the free app to get started.
Get straight to the point: Due to the short time limit (10 seconds for Snaps, 24 hours for Stories), there's no time for an excess of information. Be direct with your content, but keep it fun and on brand to see the best results.
Two-way conversations: When sending direct Snaps, you're contacting individuals, opening a conversation. You know that those looking at your Snaps and Stories are 100% engaged with your posts as it's necessary to tap and hold to view.In addition, by prompting followers to send Snaps in exchange for exclusive offers, you not only boost engagement with your brand, but build loyalty through rewards.
Limited time: After 10 seconds the your Snap will automatically delete. With the exception of users who are quick enough to take a screenshot of your content (you'll be notified if this happens). If your Snaps don't grab attention, users will forget what they've viewed and have no chance to check again.
Limited engagement: With a comparatively narrow reach compared other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, there is no 'feed' to scroll through as such, and no option to share or like posts. This puts a restriction on interaction and opportunities for lead generation.Visually led: Snapchat is based on sharing images. If you’re unable to share strong visual content, it's simply not the platform for you.
If you think that Snapchat could suit your brand, here are 6 useful tips:
1. Keep it short and creative
With a maximum time limit of 10 seconds to make a lasting impression, you’ll need to ensure that your Snaps are captivating and memorable.
2. Utilise in-app features:
Use a mix of still photos and video, and try out different filters to vary your content. The text overlay feature allows you to place a short caption (limited to the width of the photo) across an image, giving you the opportunity to include more in your message.
3. Make it exclusive
Snapchat is all about the fast delivery of information. Give your customers a reason to look at your Snaps that isn’t offered on your other social media profiles. This could be in the form of vouchers, exclusive previews of new goods, discount codes or one-off events, but ultimately you need to give your followers a reason to actively engage with your brand, building loyalty in the process.
4. Don’t ignore its potential for recruitment
If you are looking for interns or employees with a knowledge of social media and a fresh take on ideas, Snapchat could be an avenue to consider during your next recruitment cycle. You’ll be likely to hear from creative applicants looking for entry-level roles.
5. Show behind the scenes
Businesses can use Snapchat to show a different side to the business that is usually kept behind closed doors. Invite the customer in to get a glimpse of the back-stage dynamics.
6. Assist your customers
Snapchat can be a great creative advertising tool, but it shouldn’t be overlooked as a service for providing real-time advice or answering questions. Customers getting in touch with your business via social media will expect a quick response. If they want an answer fast, send a quick Snap.
Social media can present creative, accessible opportunities to engage with your customers. However, it is important to assess the appropriateness of the media with the aims of the business. Whilst Snapchat can be an innovative way to engage with a younger market with fun and exclusive content, there is only a very short timeframe within which to work.
It places a lot of pressure on content being visually captivating and memorable, leaving a message beyond its short time on screen. However, if your business is image-focused and highly creative, Snapchat could prove to be successful for you.
Whether or not you decide to use Snapchat for your business, there's a valuable lesson to be learned here. Never underestimate the importance of engaging with your customers in new ways, and always make those few seconds count.