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How to Use Snapchat for Business

In the ever-changing landscape of marketing, it’s important to keep up with the newest trends, especially the trends in social media. One such trend has, without a doubt, been taking the millennial generation by storm, which means there’s a large audience to be reached there. This new trend is Snapchat, and it’s more valuable for business than you probably think.

What it is:

Snapchat has been in existence since 2011, but it didn’t become a staple millennial app until mid-2012. Now, in 2016, Snapchat hits an estimated 10 billion video views per day (and counting). So what the heck is a “snap” and how do you “chat”? I’ll explain the basics, then we’ll talk Snapchat marketing from there.

Snapchat is predominantly used for its messaging interface– giving users the ability to send photos, videos, and quick messages to friends; all of these fall into the composition of a “Snap.” Snapchat even has a live video feature, which will let you video chat with a friend from the app. Perhaps the most impressive part of Snapchat (in my opinion) is the “Story.”

A Snap Story is basically video/photo footage that you as a user capture then add to a compilation of other videos/photos for all of your friends to see for up to 24 hours. Friends can click on your icon, view your Story, and properly see the behind-the-scenes version of your life. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and Periscope all have similar mechanisms, but Snapchat tells stories in a way that no other social medium can.

When travelling, you probably post a photo to Instagram daily (since you have to mind the “no double post” rule), you might post a collection of photos on Facebook and use words to tell about where you are, and then you’ll probably mention one of the fantastic restaurants you discovered on Twitter. With Snapchat, however, you can capture pieces of your entire day, add them to your story, and then sit back at the end of your day and have a full recap of what that day in the life of you looked like. Friends feel like they’re actually there, watching you tour the Coliseum in Rome, eat delicious gelato for dessert, make fun of someone sleeping on the subway, and dance in the streets by the Trevvi Fountain. They get more to the story, and from this, a mutual feeling of connectivity is created.

Why It Matters:

Now, how exactly does all of this tie into a business? First and foremost, it ups a business’ cool-factor exponentially by showing different audiences that you’re keeping up with the times. Next, it gives your brand a more personal touch. We all love the social media marketing tools out there like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and others, but it’s easy for brands to become reliant on schedulers and forget about real-time. Snapchat requires real-time, and it requires someone caring enough about their audience to want to show others what’s happening inside their business right at that moment in time. People get to see your business’ true personality when they view your Story on Snapchat or when you respond to a direct message they send you. As a result, brand ambassadors are built.

The first step of advice I would give to a new business joining Snapchat for the first time is to follow other respected brands and see how they’re snapping. Follow celebrities, watch the Global Snapchat Stories, and discover how exactly people are posting. Snapchat doesn’t require large efforts in the realm of content creation, but it does require someone who knowing how to speak the jargon of the Snapchat audience and what to post that will entertain viewers.

People love nothing more than when a brand has a sense of humor. Use Snapchat to show that your brand knows how to have a little fun and isn’t solely suit-and-tie all day every day. People want to see that your brand exists for more than just making money– they want to see faces of staffers, actions of the people in your office, the dude who fell asleep on his laptop at 1 pm, the happy hour shenanigans that take place every Thursday, and simply the aesthetics of where you are– the fly coffee mugs, the awesome mural across the street, and even talented things people can do in your community.

Snapchat is a large supporter of local artists and just cities as a whole. They’ve created “geofilters” to give artists the opportunity to create a design that encompasses a city or community within a city, and from there Snapchat uploads the design to their interface as a geofilter that can be placed over photos and videos when located in a particular geographical region. This is a fantastic way to show off where you live, travel to, or visit. Just by posting a picture of a pie, a bicycle, and the Oak Cliff geofilter, Dallasites can know that I’m at Emporium Pies in Bishop Arts on a sunny afternoon, then suddenly they’re wanting to go there to use that same geofilter and grab that same slice of local pie, too. Artists also get to boast on the fact that they created logos for a community that means something to them. Below are two geofilters that I’ve made, and you can find them if you’re ever located in either place:

Another fantastic use of Geofilters, especially for businesses, is advertisement for an event. Have a designer in your community create a sweet Geofilter for your next big company event, submit it to Snapchat on their website weeks before, and give guests the ability to show their friends the fact that they came to your event. Your cool-factor will sky rocket.

There are just a couple of things to note before you create a Snapchat account for your business. First, know that Snapchat lets users add people from their phone’s contact list; if you sign up your business with your cell phone number, Snapchat will show your friends that it’s “Bob” or “Bob from Trader Joes” or “Bobby XoXo” (aka, whatever they have you listed under in their personal contact list). This can get confusing for viewers, because they wonder “why is Bob adding me again if he already has an account” and “why is Bobby only talking about Trader Joe’s when he normally shows pics of his cats?” If people aren’t properly introduced to your brand’s Snapchat account, they will be confused, so try to make your identity clear from the beginning.

Make sure your “username” is your business name. Then screenshot a photo of your Snapchat username and icon (which is actually a code with dots that are personal to your brand) to post on other social platforms to let your fans know that you exist. From there, give people incentive to follow you– let them know that you’ll be snapping the entire staff volleyball competition tomorrow night so that they’ll know to tune in.

Also note that people have short attention spans, and if you add 100 photos/videos to your Snapchat Story, people will realize how overbearing it is to view it; even if it only happens once or twice, from there on out, you will be “that brand that posts too much content all the time” and people will probably stop watching your Stories.

Just like you would do with any other social medium, use Snapchat strategically. Keep your eyes open for moments happening day by day that you can capitalize on for your business– moments that make people wish they were there, make them laugh, or make them see your brand in a new way. Let yourself loose a little bit and show as much personality as you can. And last but not least, be thoughtful in your approach and consider your audience before you post things. If executed well, Snapchat will build a presence for your brand’s personality that no other social medium could, and you’ll be happy that you decided to take the time to discover the app for your company.

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