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When Snapchat first took the mobile world by storm, most people assumed it was just another teenage fad. Six years and a $16 billion valuation later, one of the most talked-about IPOs to date has since made it clear that Snapchat’s influence goes far beyond silly pictures.
Related: 3 Ways to Use Snapchat for Marketing
According to Snap Inc.’s recently updated Form S-1 SEC registration statement, the app boasts 158 million active users each day, and those users spend an average of 25 to 30 minutes on the app each day. Clearly, Snapchat has ingrained itself as the king of a social media niche that Facebook and Twitter never knew existed.
For businesses that use social media to interact with consumers, Snapchat presents opportunities no other platforms can replicate. Whether your company's goal is recruiting new talent, engaging current employees or marketing to the masses, Snapchat has something for everyone.
Related: 20 Crazy New Things We Learned About Snap
The many faces of Snapchat
Snapchat users become princesses, cowboys, aliens and puppies all the time. Why shouldn’t the app be just as versatile for business?
Direct consumer marketing is the obvious first step, but Snapchat works for internal communications and recruitment, as well. Certainly, a 10-second snap isn’t the best way to notify employees that their bonuses have been delayed. But, for small recognitions, company events, birth announcements, new hires and goals achieved, Snapchat provides bite-sized slices of company life that employees will actually look at — and that fact, says Brandemix president Jody Ordioni, will increase employee engagement.
A Snapchat channel of employee posts, such as the one Cisco uses, can also be a great tool to show potential candidates what life at the company is really like.
Cisco, for example, allows its employees to post on the channel themselves, giving viewers a live look into the company’s different roles, office locations and special events. The channel has been a great success: Cisco found that 70 percent of its viewers had watched its stories all the way through, and more than five million minutes of its content had been consumed.
What's more, the oversaturation issue doesn't apply here: Just because everyone else uses Snapchat for direct marketing doesn’t mean it isn’t worth looking into, yourself. On the contrary, data from Statista about Snapchat’s young user base — 37 percent of users are ages 18 to 24, and 26 percent are 25 to 34 — confirms that it remains an ideal platform for reinforcng branding and promoting products.
10 seconds to better business
With a platform as versatile as Snapchat, most businesses have trouble figuring out where to begin. The following five strategies will help businesses get the most from their Snapchat experience.
1. Keep your content candid. Creating custom-designed snaps is expensive and inefficient. Users of Snapchat want to see slices of real life, not heavily designed ads. So, let your employees post directly to a feed, or put a personable social media expert in charge of capturing moments to share. With brands now posting an average 13 stories per month and 11 snaps per story, according to Snaplytics, there’s no time — or reason — to get finicky about production.
Macy Andrews, Cisco's director for culture and global employer branding, said she knew that letting employees drive the company’s Snapchat would be risky, but she also knew that the employee-generated snaps would ring more authentic. "We realized Snapchat is pretty goofy, and you can't orchestrate a beautiful marketing campaign on it," said Andrews. "Once we embraced that aspect of the channel, we decided to hand it over to our employees."
2. Bring in well-known guests. Social media influencers and niche celebrities provide excellent brand exposure. Let someone else take over the Snapchat story for a while, and see what develops. Not only will brand loyalists appreciate the shakeup, but fans of the talent that was previously unaffiliated with the brand might become new customers themselves.
Sour Patch Kids, for example, opened its Snapchat account with a highly successful campaign featuring social media star Logan Paul. Together, they created a five-day snap series around the “sour then sweet” tagline. Each snap featured hijinks between Logan and a full-sized Sour Patch Kid, which worked well for the teenage audience. The campaign was a hit: Sour Patch Kids gained 120,000 new Snapchat followers and 6.8 million impressions.
3. Call users to action. Attention is great, but action is better. According to Sumpto, 67 percent of college students want to receive more discounts and promotions from brands on Snapchat. Encourage followers to visit a website or share on other social media platforms. Incentivize engagement with special Snapchat filters or contests for prizes.
Sour Patch Kids’ Snapchat campaign had fans posting across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram saying they couldn’t wait for the next installment. By the end of day five, Sour Patch Kids had garnered more than 26,000 Snapchat screenshots and almost 2,000 mentions on Twitter.
4. Build a following through consistency. Twitter followers may rally around hashtags, but how can brands create a following on an app that relies on transience? Simple — by making Snapchat a bigger part of the branding outside the app.
Snaplytics reports that most new followers search for a username before subscribing, indicating that they saw the name somewhere outside the app. Additionally, a quarter of followers use a Snapcode (Snapchat’s version of a QR code) to find accounts. Make it easy for users to add you too by placing your username and a Snapcode on your business cards, other social media accounts and even email signatures.
And when you do engage with followers, make it a conversation, not a lecture. Ask subscribers to snap back, and then reward them for it. Comment on subscribers’ snaps, send replies and make sure the audience knows someone’s listening. Sumpto’s study found that 45 percent of college students surveyed said they would open a direct snap from a brand they didn’t know, proving that even cold-calling is viable on Snapchat.
5. Track snap data. Even though Snapchat lacks the more advanced analytic tools other platforms use, it still provides some interesting insights. Total views are useful, but story completion (how many people watched all the way through) and screenshots (how many thought it was worthy of sharing) pinpoint the most engaged users. Snaplytics found that 54.8 percent of followers will open a story, so anything better than that is bearing the average open rate.
Related: Your Uncensored Guide to Snapchat
Don’t be fooled by its often silly exterior — when it comes to marketing, Snapchat is the real deal. Follow these strategies to start building better stories and engaging with more users.