Let's face it; Snapchat is different. With its 10-second videos, disappearing messages, kooky face filters and a largely youth audience, Snapchat can be a bit of a mystery for marketers. Some even fear it, as Gary Vaynerchuk explained. But the app is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with, poised to make $1 billion in annual revenue by 2017 and rumored to be considering an IPO soon.
Carlos Gil, Social media strategist and speaker, says writing it off is a huge missed opportunity for marketers, brands, entrepreneurs and small business owners. Gil shared his top tips for anyone trying to grow their Snapchat audience and capitalize on the marketing opportunities that the growing app offers.
1. Focus on fun and engaging content
Though Snapchat older demographic is growing, 41% of U.S. 18 to 34 year olds use the app daily, making it a great platform to reach a younger audience. But that audience has high expectations for the content they view, and they don't want to be sold to. Gil says the best content on Snapchat is short--most often in the form of video 10-seconds or less--and free of sales jargon.
"Content on Snapchat should not feel like an ad," Gil says. "Instead, your content should be fun in nature, provide value, entertain or educate." The key with disappearing content, Gil says, is creating content that motivates your followers to come back and watch new content each day.
2. Go behind the scenes
"Since content created on Snapchat is primarily done using your mobile device, it requires a fair amount of storytelling creativity," Gil says. While this might sound like an added challenge, it's actually an opportunity to show followers and customers a part of your business they might not otherwise see; take them behind the scenes, show them how you operate, showcase your employees and share what makes your business or your product as great as it is.
Two examples of small businesses that implement this tactic well are Frank's Pizza House (username: TorontoPizzaria) and Perfection Chocolates (username: ChocolateJohnny).
"These small businesses show their followers everything from what's on today's dinner menu to how to make a batch of chocolate," Gil says. "That transparency can go a long way toward building awareness and consumer loyalty for your brand or business."
3. Repurpose your content with Memories
One of the most perplexing elements of Snapchat for many marketers and business owners is the fact that content disappears after 24 hours, making it difficult to build an archive or the appearance of an editorial cadence. but all hope (and content) are not lost.
Gil suggests backing up all of your content to both your camera roll, using the download button in the lower left, and to Memories: a new feature which not only allows you to import photos and videos from your camera roll to your Snapchat story, but also serves as a content hub to store previous snaps and stories.
"With Memories, you can re-share your most watch snaps or stories at a later date so that they can be seen by new followers or those who missed out on the initial 24-hour period," Gil says.
4. Post your Snapcode everywhere
"Discoverability on Snapchat is more challenging than on other platforms," Gil says.
But Snapchat has tried to make this easier with custom Snapcodes: a scanable QR code unique to your account. Users can simply open the app and scan the unique code to add you on Snapchat. Making that as easy as possible for your customers and fans is key, Gil says, so you should be putting that Snapcode in as many visible plaecs as possible.
"If you have a brick and mortar business, have a decal of your snapcode on the door," he suggests. You can have a sign made for outside your business, make table-top cards, or post the Snapcode by the counter to let customers add you while they wait. You can also add it to your menus, receipts and brochures.
No store? No problem. Add your snapcode to your business cards, make it your profile photo on other social accounts, put it on your website, and use it in customer communications like emails and direct mail. (Gil even has his Snapcode decal on his phone case for easy in-person adding!)
5. Cross promote on social media
Your Snapchat content doesn't have to stay in the Snapchat environment. By downloading your Snapchat content and re-sharing it on other networks, you can leverage your audience across platforms to drive up engagement with that content and to increase your following.
Gil suggests sharing your best Snapchat content to your business's Facebook and Twitter pages, but also suggests giving those fans and followers an invitation to follow you on Snapchat by sharing your username or uploading your Snapcode as an image. Gil says you can even share a link using this format: "snapchat.com/add/yourusername"
"You want to steer clear of posting too much of your Snapchat content on other social media channels in order to give users an incentive to add you on Snapchat," Gil notes.
6. Use Geofilters to engage local buyers
Talk about targeted: Snapchat allows users to create branded geofilters, custom-made location-based photo and video overlays that include your branding. "With geofilters, local users can create Snapchat content that includes your brand's name and likeness, and also share that content with friends and followers who may be potential customers as well."
"Geofilters provide small to medium businesses an affordable advertising solution to reach local Snapchat users," Gil says. "The catch is that a user has to be using the app within the radius of where you place your geofilter in order to see it."
But that doesn't mean you have to be limited to your store or physical location. Gil suggests identifying populated areas and events that may be full of potential customers--local landmarks, sporting events, festivals, concerts, conferences and more--and purchasing a branded geofilter there to grow your profile.
7. Reply to Direct Messages
"As you grow your presence on Snapchat, do not ignore your direct messages," Gil cautions. Although you'll be largely focused on creating content that is sent to your entire follower-base, it's important to engage with individual followers who reach out to you, as on any other network.
"Snapchat users tend to be more loyal and engaged than on any other social network and will be quick to let you know when they like your content via a DM," Gil says. "Be sure to check your DMs and reply to them often to continue to grow loyalty amongst your followers."
8. Have a beginning, middle, and end
Just because Snapchat videos are limited to 10-seconds in length, doesn't meant your storytelling should be. Use multiple sequential messages to create longer narratives in your Snapchat Story, and engage with your audience beyond the 10-second timestamp.
To do this, you need a strategy and a narrative arc, just as you might on a YouTube video, Gil says.
"Be sure to have a beginning, middle, and end to your stories," he says. "Lead in by telling your followers what you will be sharing on your story." When you're done sharing the bulk of your content, offer a closing or end greetings to signal that they're all caught up, he says. For the best results, Gil says, aim for stories somewhere between 1 - 2 minutes in length.
9. Use call to actions
"While Snapchat is widely referred to as a 'storytelling app,' it's also a legit marketing channel no different than email or Facebook," Gil says.
To make sure you're inviting followers to become customers, give your followers a clear call to action at the conclusion of your daily story, whether you do it verbally or with text.
You can use text overlays on the screen to share a URL to your website, a username on another social platform, a code for a discount, or to share other instructions for how they can continue to engage with you elsewhere.
10. Keys for measuring your success
If you're putting effort into growing your Snapchat presence, it's important for you to take steps to measure the impact of those efforts.
The easiest way to do this, of course, is to track your follower counts and to check the number of views on your snaps, right within the app. But there are other ways to measure success too.
Gil suggests using track-able links--like bit.ly links--anytime you overlay a URL on a post so you can measure the number of visits that came from Snapchat specifically. He also advises creating Snapchat-exclusive discount codes or redemption URLs if you're hoping to drive sales so you can easily track which purchases resulting from Snapchat views. (The tie in to a 24-hour flash sale, Gil says, is a natural one!)