Snapchat is quickly becoming a powerful new tool brands can use to engage with their audiences, thanks to the more than 100 million people using Snapchat every day. They're watching and sharing more than 7 billion video clips.
And unlike other social platforms, which have pretty variable demographics, Snapchat has a small, core audience of users between 13 and 25 years old.
This is great news for brands marketing to this core demographic, but be careful – Snapchat has some unwritten rules, and probably no age group is as in-tune to faux pas as 13-to-25-year-olds.
To help you avoid those potential blunders, here’s everything you should know before using Snapchat for your branded content:
Snaps are 3-10 seconds long. So if your snap story is, say, 100 seconds, that means you’ve snapped at least 10 times that day; probably more.
Snaps are supposed to be fun, interesting snippets of your day – not a chronology of every mundane activity.
Brands are more at risk for “over-snapping” if their focus on the platform is promotional, and they’re just trying to get as much reach as possible.
Research into what people expect from brands on social media suggests this isn’t a good strategy.
Gallup’s State of the American Consumer study explains: “Social media sites are highly personal and conversational[…] Consumers who use these sites do not want to hear sales pitches[…] This content should be original to the company and not related to sales or marketing.”
So snap sparingly, and keep it fun.
Only Use the Seconds You Need
Along the same lines, 10 seconds is a pretty long time to have someone’s full attention, especially since attention spans continue to drop every decade.
For best results? Only use the seconds you need to convey your message.
If you’re snapping to show off a great haircut, for example, three seconds is plenty of time.
Always Keep It Real on Snapchat
A key difference between Instagram and Snapchat is authenticity. People will take 50 selfies from every angle and post the perfect one on Instagram, but Snapchat is more about keeping it real.
You’re not looking for likes, just something that resonates. And authenticity is a great way to build a personal connection with your audience.
One example: nobody realized how relatable Sour Patch Kids could be, until they added SourPatchSnaps.
Successful brands on Snapchat use the platform much in the same way as everyone else. Sharing snaps that “keep it real” can make your brand more relatable.
Don’t Snap and Drive
Millennial Snapchat users continue to make this mistake all the time, and some brands might need reminding, too.
For one, it’s illegal, and even if you’re parked, it can still make you come off as reckless.
So don’t snap and drive – or snap while doing anything else questionable or illegal, for that matter.
Spend Time Replying
Just like any social platform, Snapchat is about engagement for brands. Focus on creating branded snaps that resonate with your audience, but also take time to reply to their snaps and build a relationship.
GrubHub is one brand that really knows how to start a conversation on the network:
Think Before You Snap
Snap posts only survive for 24 hours, but that doesn’t mean your message won’t live on in screenshots and the minds of your audience.
Don’t make the mistake of sending a snap you might later regret.
Better yet, try to make your snaps a businesswide effort. Enlisting other employees to help create great branded snaps will encourage the authenticity mentioned above by giving your followers an inside look at the company.
It will also minimize your chances of sending a snap you might later regret if you have multiple people planning your branded content together.
Don’t Make Duplicate Snaps
When you send a snap, you have the option to send it directly to individuals and include it as part of your story that all your friends can see.
Pick one, and don’t do both.
People like receiving personalized snaps just for them, but if they’re going to see it in your story as well, that kind of defeats the purpose.
Snapchat has a lot of cool features and effects to spice up your snaps, like the speed filter, and the ability to edit your snaps. You can even puke rainbows if you want.
But these features should be used as artistic tools and nothing else. If the filter doesn’t do anything to enhance your snap, it might just come off as annoying to your audience.
Here’s another great example of GrubHub making good use of artistic tools in their branded content:
Snapchat actually makes it pretty easy for brands to get creative on the platform and draw in their audiences.
You’re allowed to use brand assets, such as a personalized ghost logo:
Place these around the web - they’re actually “snapcodes,” as in, scannable codes that make it easy for people to find your brand’s profile.
Actually Use the App
Brands have plenty of different social platforms they can market to, and many make the effort to have an appearance on all of them.
But don’t bite off more than you can chew. In my experience, having a brand profile and never using it looks worse to your audience than not having one at all.
It can be daunting to sign up for a new social platform and start from scratch building a following. But if you know the right tricks, you can have an active profile pretty quickly.
Work on building a following by partnering with influencers on Snapchat and off. They have a lot of followers that they can direct to your account, as well as the ability to create engaging clips to broaden your reach (see the Sour Patch Kids example above).
You can also cross-promote your own Snapchat profile across other social platforms and your website to draw in your audience.
Just make sure you’re committed to using the app regularly to leave a good brand impression.
Know any other rules I forgot? Share them by leaving me a comment below.