It might not seem like an ideal platform for marketing, but the statistics might surprise you: Sumpto, a company focused on marketing to college-age individuals, found that 73% of college students would open a Snapchat from a familiar brand, and 45% would open one from an unfamiliar brand. The app had 30 million users as of December, had surpassed the number of users on Instagram in the US alone, and has growing usage abroad. The picture messages do disappear as soon as a user views them, but there are still some interesting, and novel, marketing possibilities.
The most interesting thing about Snapchat is the immediacy of the experience. While there are workarounds to save the images, there’s still a time limit on how long it will be on the app. As a marketer, you can add a sense of urgency. Try Snapchatting some limited-time discount codes, for example. Keeping in mind that the pictures can only be shown for up to ten seconds, keep the code short and easy to remember. Key to this strategy, though, is giving a short deadline for using the codes: a few hours, or a day at most. That way, users will know that they have to open messages from you shortly after they get them to avoid missing the goodies.
Keep in mind that many users use Snapchat for its high entertainment factor, so keep content as funny, quirky, or surprising as you can to keep users’ attention on your Snaps. Snapchat itself can make that easier, allowing you include captions and even draw on the picture in different colors.
An example of a company that used Snapchat very well was 16 Handles, a frozen yogurt chain. The company created an account and advertised an offer for customers to send a Snapchat of themselves at 16 Handles, and they would then get a Snap of a coupon code they could only use while the Snapchat was on the app: they couldn’t open it until they went to pay. To add to the fun, the company sent different coupons to different users: 16% off, 50% off, and 100% off, so they didn’t know what they would get until they used the coupon.
McDonald’s also had a successful campaign on Snapchat. One thing they did is use the “Story” feature, which allows you to create longer messages by stitching together different pieces (though they’re not directed to particular users, but available to everyone who’s connected to the brand). The McDonald’s Story provided a special access look at an upcoming ad campaign with some huge star power. They also let their friends in on a release date for a new product.
The takeaways here are using the Story platform for longer messages and, again, giving an incentive for opening your Snapchats: it might be behind-the-scenes info instead of a discount. This could take the form of a quick tour of an important part of the business, a shout-out from someone (Snapchat videos are sound enabled), or just pictures of fun things related to your business that the public wouldn’t see otherwise.
Another way to use Snapchat is giveaways. When you’re first launching your Snapchat, you want to get people to add you on the app. One way to do this is to give tickets to an event away, for example. Advertise the giveaway on your site and other social media, telling anyone who wants to enter the giveaway to add your business on Snapchat and send you a Snapchat with their username and a hashtag you determine to represent your company. Then, they have to get five of their friends to add your business and Snapchat you an image with the same hashtag and the username of the friend they’re helping enter. This both helps you gain new Snapchat connections and disseminate a hashtag representing your business to users who might never have seen it before.
Snapchat isn’t a platform that you absolutely have to be on-yet. The benefit is that your offers won’t be buried under a flood of other similar offers, and you can reap the rewards. Keep in mind that the main demographic at this point is teenagers and 20-somethings, so your advertisements will have to be curated accordingly.