As brands continue to learn how to make the most of Snapchat as a marketing platform, the app is undergoing some upcoming changes. A source close to Snapchat told Digiday that the update will give the app more control over what its users see. Instead of being presented with messages from every account they follow in chronological order, "snappers," as they are sometimes called, will interact with a system similar to Facebook's, where some posts are given less priority while others are boosted.
These changes are generally used as a way to give more paid promotional opportunities to brands. The changes may make it less desirable for companies to post their marketing messages on the app, since those types of messages may be penalized. Over time, businesses must adjust their strategies to fit the new environment. Here are a few things to know about successfully marketing your brand on Snapchat.
Like other social networks, Snapchat has a vested interest in encouraging businesses to pay for exposure on the site. Snapchat's younger demographics are desirable to a large number of brands, which has brought attention to the service in recent years. While many companies have found creative ways to reach out to teens and young adults on the service, Snapchat's bottom line benefits more when brands pay for ads.
Although Snapchat's ad program has gone through some growing pains, for companies interested in reaching consumers between the ages of 13 and 25, Snapchat is still a top choice. Those between the ages of 25 and 35 are more likely to be found on sites like Twitter and YouTube, although they're gradually converting to Snapchat.
A push toward paid advertising won't mean the end of organic marketing. Brands can still post new products, make announcements, and share interesting content. However, if Snapchat adds an algorithm, organic posts may be penalized if they're seen as marketing based. In addition to visibility, brands should be concerned about these posts anyway, since consumers tend to look for content that is relevant to them. Potential customers may see marketing-based posts as spam.
"Introducing a new algorithm is daunting to many but it's actually an exciting opportunity for more growth," says Joshua Davidson, CEO of Chop Dawg, a company that builds apps and then helps market them through Snapchat. "If you create content that best fits the requirements of the new algorithm, not only will you be creating more organic-based content for Snapchat users to see, ideally you will have even more exposure thanks to the support of Snapchat ensuring that everyone sees your story. It's a win-win if you use it right."
How do you create posts that customers see as relevant? Snapchat is a photo and video-based site, which means you need to find interesting ways to engage customers using that camera of yours. Some brands have had success by creating interactive games, behind-the-scenes views of their operation, and product placements that demonstrate their merchandise in the real world. Showing the character behind a brand can go much farther than merely sharing photos of a new product in the warehouse.
Many Snapchat users simply use the site to see what's happening in their friends' lives. For brands, enticing customers to follow them like they would follow a friend is the best way to create an audience through the service. Currently some businesses find it difficult to build a following on the app, since it can be difficult to share brand content with followers. Often building an audience on Snapchat means promoting it on a company website or other social media site. Some brands also offer discounts and coupons to those who follow, but getting the word out about those discounts can be challenging.
A new algorithm could level the playing field for brands on Snapchat. Instead of being posted in chronological order, photos will probably be prioritized by peoples' interests. A small business that has perfected the art of curating content and creating "snaps" that customers find interesting could gain an advantage over a bigger company that sticks with marketing content.
One disadvantage of Snapchat has always been its time limit on content, since posts disappear. But creative brands give customers memorable content that repeatedly engages them. That is what you have to do too (and you should be doing it everywhere already).
Snapchat is an evolving social media platform that attracts younger consumers. Brands that know how to reach out to these demographics and create memorable campaigns will do well on Snapchat regardless of any changes. While Snapchat still hasn't confirmed the new algorithm, it's in line with the approaches many other social media platforms use to encourage brands to pay for ads rather than rely solely on organic marketing.