There’s a continually growing list of social media platforms that businesses should be using, and plenty of marketers agree that Snapchat is included on that list. Though the interface can be a little clunky and hard to get used to, some businesses who are using Snapchat are having great results coming from their campaigns.
Because Snapchat is so different from the other major popular social media sites most marketers are using, however, it can feel intimidating—marketers are unsure how to use the platform, how to connect with their audience, and what types of content they should be using.
In this Snapchat guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about marketing on Snapchat, including why you should market on the platform, great examples of success on Snapchat, the demographics of its users, recommended strategies and best practices, and an in-depth tutorial for using its features and tracking results.
In this January 2017 update, we’ve added a section on Snapchat analytics, which focuses on the metrics you should watch, how to track them, and third party tools to make the process easier. Ready? Let’s get started.
Why Should Businesses Market on Snapchat?
Snapchat can officially be considered yet another platform that businesses and marketers can include in their marketing line-up; it’s time, for some, to cue the collective sigh. While this can feel overwhelming for some businesses (there are already plenty of sites and platforms that we have to keep up with), it’s always a good thing to have a platform that provides new opportunities and ways to connect with our target audience.
Snapchat has shown that it can be really valuable to businesses who have the audience there and the right strategies in place. Because numbers can speak for themselves, here are some statistics that show the potential value of marketing on Snapchat:
- An estimated 200 million monthly active users send 700 million photos or videos each day, with approximately 500 million views per day (this study is different than Snapchat’s which said there are 8+ billion video views a day).
- Snapchat has approximately 100 million daily active users.
- Snapchat reaches 11% of the US’s entire digital population. This might not seem like much, but when you consider how massive that population is, that’s still a decent reach.
- Snapchat was always among the top 13 apps downloaded overall (and sometimes in the top 3 for photo and video apps) throughout the full year of 2015.
- Snapchat was worth $16 billion as of May 2015.
- Snapchat has more users than Twitter, and grew as much in one year as Twitter did in four years total.
- 76% of Snapchat users also online shoppers.
- Snapchat’s daily users are spending an average of 30 minutes a day in the app.
Aside from the statistics, which can speak for the growth and engagement on the platform, there are some strong benefits to marketing on Snapchat. These include:
- Less competition. Every brand that’s ever existed seems to have a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (and, increasingly, Pinterest). As difficult as it can be to even connect with users on these platforms, it can be even harder to get your content to stand out from the competition. Though Snapchat is increasing in popularity amongst brands quickly, there’s still less competition here for businesses than on other platforms.
- It’s different. We’ve touched a bit on this in the intro, and we’ll discuss it more later, but it’s such a major benefit I wanted to mention it here, too. Snapchat is different than other platforms.You’ll be reaching a new audience in a new way with a new type of content. This can definitely be a challenge, but it’s also a big advantage.
- It feels authentic. Social media sites, in general are great for rapport building, and in some cases, giving the “behind the scenes” look to users.
Snapchat amplifies this facet of social media marketing; it’s more about what’s happening right now. Photos are edited with filters to make them more interesting, not necessarily a higher quality, and the effects are purely there for enhancement (and fun).
You can show the personality of your brand in a new way on Snapchat, highlighting the parts that will be most relevant to your audience there.
- You can reach a new audience. If your product has use cases that could appeal to a younger demographic but you aren’t really connecting to them yet on other social media platforms, Snapchat could be your gold ticket in.
CNN, for example, connected with more Millenials on Snapchat than they had through their site; it was an audience they’d previously had some trouble connecting with.
Even if you’re reaching the same audience, you’re doing so on an additional platform.
- It’s free. This definitely isn’t the most important aspect of marketing on Snapchat, but it doesn’t hurt to note that it is, indeed, free. Some tools in marketing aren’t, after all.
Snapchat has seen increases in growth in the past few years, with user engagement and activity being plenty high enough to capture business’s attention.
Before you jump onto the platform and start running campaigns, however, you’ll want to take a look at one thing: who is your audience on Snapchat?
Who’s on Snapchat?
It only makes sense to understand what demographics are most present on a platform before you start developing your marketing strategies, and Snapchat is no exception.
Let’s put it this way: if Millenials are included at all in your target audience, you should definitely be on Snapchat.
- More than 60% of 13-34 year old in the US with smartphones use Snapchat
- 37% of users fall in the 8-24 year old category, with 71% of its users being under the age of 25.
- The population is currently made up of 70% women and 30% men.
- 12% of 35-54 year old are currently using Snapchat, and only 2% of those 55 and older are on the platform.
Snapchat currently has a younger audience, though it’s important to note that more than half of new users currently signing up for Snapchat are over the age of 25.
If teens and college students aren’t your target demographic, however, you could still get some use out of marketing on Snapchat—as long as your audience isn’t purely in the 55+ age group.
Are there Any Businesses that Shouldn’t Use Snapchat?
While I’d never say that it would hurt a brand to use a social media platform unless some major marketing missteps are made (see my personal favorite– the McDonald’s example), there are probably a few brands out there that might not have much success on Snapchat and could do better to focus their attention elsewhere. If your target demographic is purely middle-aged to older adults, for example, and a younger audience would have zero interest in your product, Snapchat may not be for your business.
That being said, it never hurts to try; the demographics could always change and expand, and you might be surprised how your content fits in with the new audience, or how engaged your audience is on the platform.
Snapchat Marketing: The Tutorial
Now that we’ve established who should market on Snapchat and why they should, we’ll focus in on the how of Snapchat marketing.
In case you missed it, we published an in-depth tutorial that goes over how to set up your profile and send snaps and stories, which you can see here.
Since we’ve already released a guide going over the basics, this tutorial is going to focus on the more advanced features of Snapchat marketing, including features available to use, developing a marketing strategy, connecting with your audience and QR codes, and tracking the results of your marketing efforts.
Features Available on Snapchat
There are several different features, types of posts, and settings that can you can use, all of which can impact the success of your Snapchat campaigns. These include image editing options, the settings you can choose on your profile, and additional features that can help you interact and engage with your audience.
Types of content you can share on Snapchat include:
- Images. You can share images on Snapchat, taken right then with your camera phone and edited, or uploaded from your saved photos. Snaps are best in a portrait format, which is the only way to view them.
- Videos. Videos can be shared on Snapchat, so long as they’re kept under ten seconds long (though some crafty users have apparently figured out hacks around that). They can be edited like images.
- Snaps. Snaps are images or videos that are sent privately and only to specific users. After users view them for the allowed amount of time, they “expire” and disappear. Snaps are found on the left-hand side of the main screen.
- Stories. Stories are images or videos that are shared with your followers (or everyone, if your private setting allows for it). They’re good for mass distribution of content. Locate them on the right-hand side of the main screen.
Editing options for posts (both Snaps and Stories for images and videos) include:
- Drawing tools. You can draw on your image, in any color and in any place.
- Text Add-ins. You can type out text to add to your image. You can choose any color for the font, and place the banner text wherever you choose.
- Emojis. Because the world can never have enough emojis, you can add emojis to your image, dragging them to any position that you so please.
Settings and features that you can use to enhance your success on Snapchat include:
- Change view time. You can manually adjust the view time on your images, allowing users to view them for longer or shorter periods of time than the default ten seconds. If you increase the length of time it’s available for viewing, you could get more engagement.
- Having your profile public. Make sure that your profile is set to public, instead of private (which is the default). To do this, click the ghost in the top center of the main screen.From there, click the red star in the top right corner.
Change “who can contact me” and “who can view my stories” from “my friends” to “everyone.”
Snapchat released an upgraded messaging system (Snapchat chat 2.0), which comes with additional features. You can use the messaging system to chat privately with specific users.
To chat with a user, swipe right to where you’ll see Snaps. Click on the text bubble in the left-hand corner.
From there you’ll be taken to a screen where you can choose who to chat with.
Features (new and old) of the chat system include:
- Stickers. More than 200 stickers are now available to use in the private chat system.
- Video notes. Video notes are ten seconds of video that will loop for continuous watching when your friend views them, and they can be sent in the private chat system. They don’t expire like normal snaps and stories.
- Audio notes. Audio notes work the same way as video notes, allowing you to send 10-second snippets of audio content in a private chat.
- Multiple photo send. You can now send multiple photos at once in the private chat system.
- Video and audio calls. Just as Facebook offers video and audio calls, Snapchat does as well, thanks to their upgraded chat system. You can even send photos during these calls.
Developing a Strategy to Market on Snapchat (with real examples)
While a lot of social media platforms offer something unique while still functioning in a similar way (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest allow you to share posts and “like” or comment on the posts of others), Snapchat is one that—to me—feels truly different; you share videos and images with specific people, and people can send videos and images to you. That’s it. The interaction between you and your users isn’t public, and there’s no real social proof. Going viral isn’t the objective; getting your content to those who will engage with it is the only goal here.
In order to have success on Snapchat, you’ll need to have a marketing strategy in place. And because Snapchat is such a different platform compared to what we’re used to as marketers, that marketing strategy is going to be at least a little different than what you’re likely using on other platforms.
Some tried-and-true strategies, tactics, and campaigns that have worked for other businesses who were marketing their brand (or products) on Snapchat include the following:
- Offering coupon codes. When it comes to Snapchat marketing, one of the best tried-and-true tactics is advertising coupon codes on the platform.
There are several ways to do this. Sixteen Handles made Snapchat marketing history when they offered a coupon code in exchange for users sending them Snaps of themselves with the frozen yogurt. The frozen yogurt restaurant returned the snap with a coupon code, redeemable in store.
Grubhub has also been known to offer coupon codes via Snapchat, which makes use the urgent nature of the platform and encourages users to buy now with a combination of urgency and the added incentive of a discount.
In addition to the coupon codes being great motivation for engagement and real, profitable sales, they also offer another benefit: they’re trackable. You can see how many people are responding to you, and then you can see how many actually use the coupon code. Since it can be difficult to track metrics at all on Snapchat, that’s a valuable perk.
- Connect with influencers. Connecting with influencers can make a huge impact on your Snapchat marketing– even if they’re more unlikely influencers that you’d expect to see.
A great example of a brand who used influencers wisely was Audi. Wanting to connect to young, female, Millennial, first time car buyers, they teamed up with ABC’s show “Pretty Little Liars,” which is an influencer for that demographic if there ever was one. Audi would post exclusive content about the show, giving the show an additional platform and Audi access to the show’s followers.
Throughout the campaign, Audi gained more than 115,000 followers on Snapchat. Even unlikely pairs can work.
- Build anticipation. Do you have an event going on now, or one going on soon? Create hype as much as you can through anticipation and capitalize on it.
For those who don’t know (or don’t live in Orlando), Universal Studios opened up the new King Kong ride Skull Island last summer. As part of their marketing strategy, they’ve released a series of short videos on YouTube, spaced a week apart each. These videos show a fictional trip to a “real” skull island, each ending on a cliffhanger to build anticipation both for the next video, and the ride. It worked– I got excited and renewed my pass. This happened on YouTube, but you can do the same via Snapchat.
If you have an event coming up, continue to share images and videos of the preparation or of exciting new developments and details to come. TacoBell (an icon of Snapchat marketing) did this when announcing the arrival of their breakfast menu through multiple tweets.
Always keep people wanting more, adding phrases like “just wait until you hear what we’ve got coming!” and “we’ve got a great surprise in store.” Use the short but frequent snaps to keep your audience engaged.Build anticipation, both for your next story and the product, and your campaigns can provide even more than higher engagement.
- Target the audience that’s there. Your audience on Snapchat, even after some impressive growth, may not be the same as your target audience in general. That’s fine. As long as they are interested in your content and relevant to your brand, they’re now your target audience on Snapchat.
Let’s look at an example of how to repurpose a campaign to fit a new audience. Publix (a popular grocery store in Florida) often has really touching commercials near the holidays, where lonely grandparents are visited by family or friendly neighbors. To adjust to the millennial demographic, they could instead feature campaigns around pizza and wings images and videos for college game night. Febreeze has capitalized on this, changing their Snapchat campaigns to market to millennials.
I think LACMA has done an amazing job with this, adapting to the audience on Snapchat to showcase exciting pieces and keep users interested, with clever uses of text, editing, and visual add-ins.
Connecting with Your Audience on Snapchat
We’ve already discussed the demographics that are currently on Snapchat. Just because they’re there, however, doesn’t mean you’re automatically guaranteed for them to follow you. You have to still find your followers and encourage them to connect with you, just as you would on any other platform.
Snapchat lacks other platforms’ “viral” nature; if one of your friends follows a brand on Snapchat, it makes absolute no impact on you whatsoever—you don’t see it and you’ll never hear about it. Because of this, it can be more difficult to connect with users on Snapchat.
One of the best ways to do so is to promote your Snapchat off the platform as much as you possibly can. Share your Snapchat username on all of your social media sites, your site, and in an email to your email list, prompting users to follow you. You can offer some incentive up front, offering the chance to win a prize or get a shout out from your brand if they follow you. This can be surprisingly effective.
If you can get an influencer on board who can encourage users to follow you, this can also help. As many people as possible who can let followers know about your Snapchat profile, the better.
Perhaps the most effective way to connect with new users is to use the QR code.
Snapchat’s QR Code: How to Use It
QR codes are machine-readable codes that can be read by the cameras on smartphones, similar to the scanning of a barcode. Snapchat has smartly made great use of QR codes, which users can now use to quickly follow specific users or brands that they want. Users are sharing their QR codes across social media, in emails, and even in print in person, making it fast and easy for other users to follow them. The easier it is, the more followers you’re likely to gain.
You can access and customize your Snapchat QR code by logging in here.
Each snap code is unique even before you customize it, so keep that in mind before trying to customize someone else’s.
The snapcode is made up of 3 different aspects; the ghost, the code, and the frame. None of these factors can be interfered with—you can’t invert the color of the code, for example, or disrupt either the ghost or the frame.
You can change the color of the body of the ghost, though Snapchat recommends you keep it white. Adding a logo or image inside the ghost can be a great way to customize the code, and you can change the background color (just not the code) as part of your branding.
Once you’re happy with your snapcode, share it everywhere you can. People just have to take a picture of your snapcode and click on it within the app from your camera roll to follow you.
How to Track Results on Snapchat
Like Instagram, Snapchat doesn’t have the type of in-platform analytics tool like Facebook’s Insights or Pinterest’s Analytics. Unlike Instagram, Snapchat also doesn’t have any third party analytics tools that can be used. At least for now, Snapchat is more user-friendly than it is marketer-friendly.
While this can be inconvenient for marketers, it’s still possible to track some results of your campaigns on Snapchat. The information won’t be condensed in easy-to-read graphs and charts on a marketer-friendly interface, but you can still get it.
There are a few metrics you can track on Snapchat. You can see:
- Who’s viewed a Snap
- Who responded to a Snap or story
- Who’s engaged with you via chat
You can determine the effectiveness of your campaigns (or at least how much the content is being viewed) by dividing the number of snaps opened by the amount of snaps you sent out, providing you with the Snap opening rate.
If you’re running a particular campaign, like GrubHub in the example above, you can see how many users open a private snap and/or interact with you to receive the coupon code.
Evaluating your open and engagement rate over time can be tedious and take a long time as it’s a manual process, but it can give you a strong idea of how your content is resonating with your audience, along with what content they were most receptive to.
You can also see the amount of views your story as gotten, as well as the amount of screen shots taken. When you click on your individual story, you can see how the number of views (which will be the number by the eye) and the number of screen shots (which is the tiny supposed-to-be-an-arrow).
Again, calculating both the views and the screen shots can help you evaluate whether or not your content is relevant—and is staying relevant—to your audience.
5 Best Practices for Marketing on Snapchat
In addition to developing a marketing strategy that works best for your brand and your particular audience, there are several different tactics and best practices you can employ with your Snapchat campaigns in order to boost engagement, sales, and followers.
Here are 5 of those best practices:
- Create urgency. Creating a sense of urgency is a great tactic when you’re looking to motivate users to take any sort of action on your campaigns. Snapchat is no different, and it’s “see it before it’s gone” aspect automatically gives a sense of must-act-now to users viewing your content.
Create posts that capitalize on this natural urgency to motivate users to action– announce flash sales, special discounts, or exclusive content– to get more results and higher engagement.
- Test content in private messages. Since Snapchat is so different from other platforms, it’s a good idea to test your content and see how it will perform (because when is this ever a bad idea for marketers?).
To test content on Snapchat, send a Snap to some of your users in private snaps and measure their engagement. It will be easier to monitor their engagement in these smaller batches, and it lets you test content before sharing it with all of your followers (and potentially the public) as stories.
- Fit your content to the platform. If sites like Facebook and Instagram are all about transparency, Snapchat has taken that transparency to a whole new level. Images on Snapchat aren’t going to be the same stunning, glossy, filtered, edited images adorning users’ Facebook and Instagram feeds; they’re going to be taken with a camera phone quickly, edited in a fun way, and shared.
Snapchat as a platform feels more casual, fun, and fleeting than some other platforms (which is probably part of the reason it appeals to Millennials so much). Showcase your brand and its personality, and don’t worry about pictures that aren’t perfectly photo-shopped.
- Use both videos and images. The more options you have, the better– at least in this case. Sharing a mix of images and videos can keep users interested and engaged; images are easy to edit and quick to view, and videos (in all their ten-second glory) are dynamic and feel alive. With Snapchat’s reported 8+ billion video views, using multiple types of media never hurt.
- Tell a story. Snaps now automatically play, one after the next, if there are multiple that a user can view. This is also true for stories. You can use these images and videos to tell a story across multiple posts, which can both build engagement and interest, and allows you to overcome the briefness of the time limit for both images and videos.
This can also help keep users tuned in and invested in the chain of your story, waiting for what’s next.
Snapchat Analytics: 2017 Update
We’ve established that Snapchat can be an extremely valuable marketing platform. The difficult part, however, is actually measuring those marketing efforts. Unlike most major platforms, Snapchat doesn’t offer on-platform analytics like Facebook’s Insights or Pinterest’s Analytics. To make things even more challenging, Snapchat is an extremely difficult platform to track data on. Similarly, tracking trends on is just as difficult since our content—and their results—disappear.
Fortunately, there are a few metrics we can watch manually. And, even better, third-party platform Snaplytics released an incredible Snapchat analytics tool that all businesses can benefit from.
In this 2017 update, we’re going to take a look at which metrics you should look at, where to find them, and the amazing Snaplytics tool.
Which Snapchat Metrics Can Be Evaluated Manually?
When you’re using Snapchat, not a lot of metrics are available to us. That’s ok; we can get a lot of information out of the metrics we do have access to.
One of the biggest metrics to pay attention to is the number of views and screenshots on our stories. This can be found by clicking the story, and then clicking the white arrow on the bottom of the screen.
Number of views (and names of users who viewed the story) are represented by the eye symbol; screenshots are the symbol next to it. Knowing how many views our content is actually getting is essential. Number of views should be tracked overtime and compared against your total number of followers. If your number of followers has stayed the same but increased, and your story views have decreased over time, your audience isn’t interested in your content.
Speaking of which, you should always keep an eye on the number of followers that you have. Just like with all other forms of marketing, increasing your followers can make your marketing efforts more powerful. This can be time-consuming to do manually, so either recruiting an intern to do the counting once every six months or using Snaplytics is a good way to go.
To determine an estimated completion rate, you’ll need a story with more than one picture or video. Divide the number of users who saw the last section of your story by the number of users who saw the first story to determine your completion rate. This also helps you gauge audience interest in your content; if you’re losing them, you may be able to see where and why.
You can also manually evaluate whether or not users are opening the private snaps you send to them, and how often they respond. Snaps that have been opened with have blue arrows, as seen in the image above. If you’ve received a message in return, you’ll have a blue message box. You can determine the engagement rate for private messages, and test out content in smaller groups of your audience via private chat.
Snaplytics’s Snapchat Analytics
So considering all the detailed tracking—and resulting excel spreadsheets—that Snapchat marketing requires to track data, I know I wasn’t the only one dying for a third party analytics tool to be released. Snaplytics is the only Snapchat analytics tool that I know of, but it’s an incredible resource, and it’s the only one I think we need.
They automatically track and calculate the following metrics (so you don’t have to do it manually and before your snaps delete):
- Number of stories
- Total and average number of story opens
- Total and average number of story screenshots
- Average story completion rate
- Average open rate
- Estimated total followers
- Ratio of pictures to videos you’re posting
- Your top 5 tags
These metrics are all incredibly important. Getting accurate data will give you valuable insight into how users are responding to your content. This data is actionable, and it’s necessary to have
You can click to individual live stories to see information about them, including views and completion rate; you can even play the story live from the dashboard where you’re viewing it.
Snaplytics also has the only audience analytics platform available for Snapchat. They’ll tell you your estimated number of followers and your daily follower growth rate. They’ll also tell you what sources of traffic are giving you the most followers.
This tool tells you if they’re searching for you by user name, snapcode, a deep link, or add-backs. You can amplify those sources of traffic with additional effort, advertising funds, and energy.
You can compare all of this data to information about your competitors. You can see how they’re using the platform and how your content is measuring up. You’ll pay more for this feature, but it’s an extremely beneficial one—especially for brands just getting started. Insight like how often competitors post and the average duration of stories can help you find the Snapchat sweet spot.
Bonus: Snaplytics is also testing a feature that will let businesses schedule Snaps ahead of time through the dashboard. This isn’t an analytics feature, but it’s a cool one worth mentioning.
Snaplytics plans start at $179 a month.
Do I Need to Measure Snapchat Engagement?
Yes- you should carefully monitor and evaluate all aspects of your marketing campaigns. This includes Snapchat. It can be difficult to manually track all the metrics necessary to get a clear picture, but it’s possible. Snaplytics is a great resource, and more accurate than most of us tracking the data on our own. Either way, measuring engagement (and audience information) lets you know what’s working and what isn’t. This allows you to deliver more relevant content to your audience, improving your results long term.
Because Snapchat is different from the platforms we’re used to, we must adapt our strategies and tactics to the platform and its audience. The best practices and strategies listed above being a great place to start.
Snapchat won’t be the ideal marketing solution for all businesses. It can, however can be an extremely beneficial tool for those audience is on the platform. If you can find the right strategies to connect and engage with this audience, you’ll be golden.
What do you think? Do you use Snapchat for your business? How have you connected with your audience and increased engagement? Share your thoughts, comments, and experiences in the comments below!