10 Insights on How Brands Can Use Snapchat


When it comes to Snapchat, many of the “rules” for brand marketing on social media get thrown out the window. While it certainly shares traits with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the key to effectively promoting your brand is understanding what sets Snapchat apart, and how to take advantage of its particular qualities. Check out our list below for the insights we’ve gleaned as we’ve snapped away.

1. Inhabit the casual vibes of the network
The ephemeral nature of a snap is the medium’s defining characteristic. Unlike a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter post, which must must be able to stand up to repeat viewings, a snap or snap story will be but a glimpse for your followers of an event, lifestyle, or whatever you’re choosing to record. Our advice is to embrace the unique parameters that a snap offers. Don’t be afraid to have fun with it! Take too clinical an approach and you’ll run the risk of sticking out like a sore thumb in a stream consisting mostly of stories from friends of the user. Show a personal side to your brand, one that followers won’t be able to get anywhere else.

2. Tell a story
Personal shouldn’t be taken to mean completely improvisational. You can’t rely on off-the-cuff moments falling into your lap. You’ll either wind up forcing it, or forgoing it altogether. Take Snap “Story” literally, and plan out a beginning, middle, and end to the series, considering as well how you’ll intersperse video and still images. If you’re snapping an activation, photoshoot (we had success with this at a recent client photoshoot), or some other sort of behind-the-scenes event, have an idea of the timeframe of the day, when there will be visually interesting moments to capture, and the narrative you want to establish. Ideally your snap story will feel like you’re peeling back the curtain.

3. Brevity is the soul of wit
A snap lasts for just 10 seconds. It’s tempting to try and cram as much as you can into that window, it’s so short after all, but be mindful of the time limit. Know what you want to say before you take the snap, and ensure you don’t have to race to the finish line to get it all out.

4. Take advantage of on-demand geofilters
Design and schedule a custom geofilter to add a unifying visual motif to any story. Submission is simple, and in our experience Snapchat has been prompt in approving filters. These are a relatively inexpensive way to give your story a touch of gravitas.

5. Double up on filters
File this one under tips and tricks: Snapchat allows you to put two filters over one image. Swipe across for your first filter as you normally would, then continue to hold your finger on the screen while swiping with a second finger to add an additional filter.

6. Get some followers
Good content isn’t easy to create. Don’t let it go to waste on a limited base of followers. Gaining followers isn’t as simple as it is on other networks, especially for smaller brands. Given that you can’t advertise for followers as you can on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you’ll need to get creative. Direct users to your Snapchat account from your other social profiles. A Snapcode profile picture is a good way to go about this, but it’s far from the only one. Going to the “Add Friends” menu in Snapchat and selecting “Share Username” will give you a URL to post on your other accounts. We’ve promoted posts on Facebook with our snapchat information, ensuring that users with a demonstrated interest in our clients are made aware of the new account. Last but not least, update your profile information to include your Snapchat name.

7. Stage a “takeover” by an influencer
Hiring an influencer to do an account ‘takeover’ is a great way to draw a new audience of followers that may not have otherwise found their ways to your page. Allow them to play to their strengths, and make sure that both you and your influencer announce the takeover on the other networks. This advice may sound familiar if you’ve read our companion piece on Facebook Live.

8. Don’t overwhelm your followers
Sometimes, less is more. Unless your day-to-day consists entirely of action-packed, VIP-access, behind the scenes hijinks, you probably don’t have enough quality content to constantly broadcast to your followers. Be choosy about what you snap.

9. Think about what belongs on Snapchat, and what doesn’t
Save your most important announcements for the more permanent networks, unless your goal is to intentionally alert just a select group. Feel free to ignore this rule if you’re, say, announcing your engagement to the Snapchat CEO.

10. Save your content
This is more housekeeping than anything else, but don’t forget to use Snapchat’s Memories feature to save your snaps. You may have reason to use them again later, although be aware that snaps pulled from Memories will be surrounded by a white border in your story.

That’s the long and short of it. We hope you found that useful. Leave us any questions in the comments sections below. Happy snapping!