Snapchat Marketing: 6 Ways To Tell Your Story

Marketing Tools & Tips Social Media Best Practices

Teens and twenty-somethings – with their disposable income, are every brand’s dream. It’s no surprise then that brands are falling over themselves to figure out how to utilize Snapchat, where millions of them engage daily.

If you’re like them and trying to dive into the world of Snapchat – we’ve got you covered. But first, remember the most important rule of social media: choose your brand’s channels with care. You need to be able to truly invest in new channels. If you don’t have the resources, be it time, money, or personnel, don’t waste the effort. You’ll be bound to disappoint your fans.

A young woman taking a video of some delicious baked goods in a cafe.

Snapchat has over 383 million daily active users – skewing heavily to the under-25 crowd, which makes up around 60% of its user base. When I started researching this article, I asked brand managers who weren’t utilizing Snapchat – why not? Other than those who reasoned that they didn’t have the resources to do it well, many reasoned that Snapchatters don’t want to see brands on the platform.

They’re wrong. Snapchatters enjoy following brands, using branded lenses and filters – what they don’t like are ads. So just as marketers have to engage and provide relevant content on Facebook & Twitter, it’s the same for Snapchat. If you want your brand to be successful on Snapchat, you need to provide relevant and relatable content.

When it comes to posting brands on Snapchat, you’ll find similar dynamics as other channels. Brands can create Public Profiles that showcase their public Stories, Spotlight Snaps (Approved Snaps that can be seen by the public in a TikTok-like feed), Filters, and Lenses. If you want to get your customers and fans to subscribe to you, you have to provide engaging content. That means telling an interesting story.

Here are six ways you can use Snapchat to tell a great story:

Try-Ons and Tutorials

Snapchat is a great platform for showing users how to do things, from applying makeup to cooking a new recipe. Try-on filters, like the ones by Too-Faced below, allow users to virtually try on makeup, clothes, and other accessories, while tutorials can teach them how to do everything from tie a tie to dance the tango.

Four frames showing Snapchat filters created by Too-Faced to virtually show the effects of their makeup products, including a foundation, two eyeshadow palettes, and a mascara.

Don’t hesitate to use humor, storytelling, and other techniques to keep your viewers engaged. Try using filters and stickers to make your tutorial more visually appealing. Also, keep it short and sweet. Snapchat is all quick and instant communication, so make sure your Snaps are no longer than a few minutes.

Behind the Scenes

Take your audience behind the doors of your office, production, or even an event. Giving them an insider’s perspective gives you the opportunity to showcase the personality of your team or even how you make the magic happen. Snapchat’s own brand channel does this by allowing its subscribers to experience a bit of their office culture. They don’t just share news or updates about the app. Instead, you get to know the content team, who showcase Snapchat’s features the way they’re meant to be used — as a way to have fun and connect with others.

Screenshot of a video where a Snapchat employee is walking through the offices with another employee dancing in the background.

Influencer Take Over

Influencer marketing is a powerful way to reach new audiences and build brand awareness. Have an influencer take over your Snapchat account for the day. This gives your subscribers a chance to see your brand through the eyes of someone they trust and admire.

Here are some influencer takeover ideas you could try:

No matter what you decide to do, just make sure it’s relevant to your brand and that it will appeal to your target audience. With a little planning, influencer takeovers can help you reach new heights with your Snapchat marketing efforts.

Pro tips: All you need to know about discovering the right influencers for your brand and tracking influencer performance.

Live Events (and Recaps)

Take your fans along for the ride during a live event. Whether it’s an industry conference, a festival, or a sporting event – give those who can’t be there a taste of what they’re missing. Take it a step further to share a recap of the events. The NFL does this well by highlighting the best moments that happen throughout a week in the season.

Screenshot of a Snapchat Story by the NFL that features a football player jumping up to catch the ball on the sideline.

Limited or Exclusive Offer

Take advantage of the short life of a Snapchat Story by offering your subscribers a limited-time or exclusive deal. This could be an exclusive discount code, early access to a sale, or a free gift with purchase. By creating a sense of urgency, you can encourage your subscribers to take action and make a purchase.

Extend Offline or Digital Campaigns

Prolong the life and reach of an offline or digital campaign with Snaps. Share images of billboards, snaps of live engagements, or even new products in-store. Think about offline campaigns in new ways, and it’ll work for Snapchat. For instance, Khloe Kardashian, who co-founded the fashion brand Good American, regularly shares their campaigns and promotions with her massive following on Snapchat.

A screenshot of Khloe Kardashian's Snapchat story that features an ad for Good American's limited time 30% off sitewide sale.

For those who follow Khloe or Good American on Instagram Stories, the post likely looked familiar. In other words, you’ll find that Snapchat is not too different from other channels. Just as with those platforms, the best brands on Snapchat don’t have to be media companies. You have an opportunity to carve out a new home for your brand and your subscribers with Snapchat.

Just keep these Snapchat marketing best practices in mind:

Be relevant: Share Snaps that will interest your audience.

Have fun: Snapchat isn’t about being straight-laced and all business. Show some personality and have fun and your subscribers will follow suit.

Promote your profile: Snapchat doesn’t make it easy to find friends – let alone brands. So make sure to use a handle that makes sense, and promote your profile across other channels.

Be consistent: Post regularly to stay on your audience’s feed. Daily is not required, but post too infrequently, and your subscribers will lose interest.

Embrace raw and uncut: Part of the appeal of Snapchat is the rawness. Users aren’t worried about perfect sound or rehearsed shots. Fit in by keeping your brand’s snaps untouched and approachable.

If you must advertise on Snapchat, use Geofilters: As mentioned earlier, Snapchatters aren’t fans of the video ads within Snapchat. So if you’re looking to advertise within Snapchat, it’s better to go with sponsored filters. Sponsored lenses get pricey – which is why big brands have exclusively used them. A more affordable approach is to use geotargeted filters, known as geofilters. Geofilters are a Snapchat feature that works by letting people or businesses create a filter for a particular location. Snapchat users can only use that Geofilter if they are in that area. Geofilters allow your brand to hit a targeted audience without breaking the bank. Use these at an event, like a festival your brand sponsors or as part of an in-store promotion.

As with all marketing activities, it’s important that you understand your audience, and speak to them appropriately. And that social channels change and their audience ages – just ten years ago, only college students had Facebook. For now, Snapchat serves up to the under-25 crowd well, and if done right, expands your brand’s story. Dive in and have fun.

Does your brand use Snapchat? Tell us why or why not, and share your handle too!

This post was originally published in 2017 and has since been updated.

Cassandra Schwartz

Cassandra leads our product marketing, focusing on product, brand, and communications needs. Cassandra has worked in marketing and communications for nearly a decade helping businesses like Microsoft including Xbox and The Garage, Pike13, and many others connect with their audiences. Outside of work, Cassandra keeps extraordinarily active. An avid community builder, she leads the Seattle Lean In Circle, and co-founded SheHasDrive, as well as a peer-mentoring program based in Seattle. Since moving to Seattle from Kansas, Cassandra has adopted an outdoors lifestyle that includes hiking, skiing, and kayaking. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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