As part of our year-end, Firebrand Group released a new Ebook, 20.16 Big Ideas for 2016. In it, we asked a number of our favorite award-winning marketing experts, authors, and other thought leaders--in addition to some of our own team of digital strategy and branding experts--to recommend one "Big Idea" that companies can take advantage of to get ahead in 2016. You can download the entire Ebook here.

So far I've written about the "Big Ideas" presented by Gabrielle Archambault and Dorie Clark. Another of the folks I was fortunate enough to interview for this project was Jason Keath, the founder & CEO of Social Fresh Conference, who is advocating that brands take better advantage of Snapchat in 2016. Here's some of our conversation:

Are there still companies that doubt the power of Snapchat?

Most companies, and people, are still very confused by Snapchat. It's as if all your goofy texts, the gifs you send friends, and your emoji habits suddenly became a social network. There is no public feed. You cannot link out easily or gain followers like on other social networks. There is a huge education hurdle there that only a few businesses are choosing to overcome. 2016 will be the year most businesses start to think about Snapchat as a marketing channel. It will be the beginning of bridging that education gap.

Is there one right way to use Snapchat as an organization?

The right way to think about Snapchat is as a channel to engage your biggest fans, especially the younger and more tech savvy ones. Though we are seeing signs of all age groups engaging in significant ways, rivaling the engagement Facebook sees from their users.

Businesses should look at Snapchat as an opportunity to build trust and loyalty with a segment of their existing audiences.

Influencers play a large part on Snapchat. Should brands invest in their own Snapchat channels, or find influencers to partner with?

Yes. Businesses should definitely invest in a brand account on Snapchat. Whether they choose to work with influencers or not is more of a resources decision. If you have a good strategy for how Snapchat can work for you and there are influencers that can help that strategy, you'll need to decide if you have the resources needed to partner with them or not. That could be money, products, discounts, access, time, and so forth.

Influencers are a big opportunity for brands looking to grow a Snapchat presence for 2 reasons:

1. Influencers know the platform and what kind of content works well on Snapchat. They can share those insights and lend a little of the trust they have built with their audience with a brand. It's up to the brand to keep that native content up, keeping and building on that trust.

2. Some influencers have millions of followers on Snapchat. They are one of the more efficient ways to gain large numbers of followers on the platform.

You do plenty of research on what works on Snapchat and what doesn't. What mistakes have you seen companies make on Snapchat? Who does Snapchat "right"?

The biggest mistake is producing content on Snapchat that is not native to the platform. What works on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, likely will not generate the same success on Snapchat. I see brands using too many of the creator tools all at once. They might use filters, text, drawing, emojis, and several colors. This type of content lacks strategy, lacks focus, and usually is missing the story aspect that works best on Snapchat.

The other common mistake is using none of the creator tools built into Snapchat and just designing a very highly produced series of images or video. This type of content looks like it does not fit right away and does not engage users.

I'll also see brands just post a single image as a story, or post 10 minutes of video as a story. The sweet spot length for a Snapchat Story is usually 30-90 seconds. Snapchat analytics company Delmondo recommends 1-3 minutes. Anywhere in those ranges is a good place to test for engagement and story completion.

You want a quick paced story that has a purpose. It should look like it belongs but also hold true to a brand voice and style.

Brands that are doing well include Spotify, National Geographic, Red Bull, Burberry, Mashable, GE, Food Network, Coca-Cola.


Looking for more big ideas from Keath's peers, such as Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari), Alexa von Tobel (Founder & CEO of LearnVest), and many more? Access the entire Ebook here. Plus, join me at Keath's next Social Fresh Conference in August 2016. And here's wishing your company plenty success at taking better advantage of Snapchat in 2016.