The buzz surrounding Snapchat for brands is definitely at a high decibel level. And just like other new social apps, there are lots of tutorials and how-to articles being created on a daily basis to show you how to get the most out of the platform. But what happens after the “shiny new toy” syndrome wears off? Is the millennial audience going to get disenchanted and be looking around for the next new thing? Perhaps not, if you play your cards right.
Storytelling is the Secret Sauce
Over 7 billion (yes, billion) stories are viewed daily among Snapchat’s hundred-million-and-climbing global users. But as with any social platform, being able to tell a good story is the key to driving engagement. Snapchat’s visual, short-lived content platform is uniquely suited to today’s busy, mobile-centric consumers with short attention spans.
Brands are using Snapchat’s story feature using photos (enhanced with text, drawings and overlays) and intriguing, short video clips to tease followers with footage from events and peek at upcoming product lines. However, I think it pays more to think about telling stories that show the “human” side of your company, such as people experiencing your brand, or an inside look.
For instance, on SnapChat’s Discovery channel I took a look at what the Winter X Games was publishing—people enjoying the event! Screenshots below:
Some are video clips and some are images, but they definitely pull you into the excitement of the games. What ways can you think of to share your brand’s customer experience or inner-workings by changing up your Snapchat story?
Build Audience with Cross-Channel Exposure
Building audience can feel like a “chicken or the egg” issue with a new channel, and there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to share your Snapchat profile around to get your stories seen. From customizing and using your Snapcode on packaging graphics and other offline collateral to spreading it across the web and social, it takes a significant push to get noticed. However, the results can be well worth it, especially if you’re consistent about frequently sharing your Snapchat presence on social channels. Be creative!
Sharing your Snapcode is just one way to build audience. A feature I love about Snapchat’s disappearing content is that when you’re publishing fun, interesting content, people on Snapchat naturally want to share it with friends, and they’re compelled to do so quickly before it disappears! However, you can still save your content before it goes away and repurpose it in other places. Use it on your blog, syndicate it on Tumblr, create a tab for it on Facebook, upload it to YouTube—the sky’s the limit on the many ways your Snapchat content can be recirculated to external audiences, which grows your visibility.
Co-Create with Influencers/Customers
A technique that’s getting lots of play these days is having Snap-savvy influencers and customer advocates “take over” a brand’s Snapchat channel for a period. When we see people like ourselves snapping on behalf of a brand, that’s pretty powerful. Takeovers are like reviews or testimonials on steroids. You’ve got to partner with the right people (and have guidelines and contracts in place), but handled correctly, they can be a way to scale your reach in a fun, engaging way—building trust with other people’s audiences.
“Pure Social” at its Core
To me, Snapchat is the ultimate in pure social media, because it’s built for in-the-moment, one-on-one engagement. However, it takes resources for a brand to sustain the kind of presence that’s required to keep audience attention and interaction. If you’re not consistently storytelling, communicating and engaging, you might as well not be there. It’s definitely a commitment of people, time and effort, but I think every brand needs to encourage their employees and brand managers to experience it so they can build an understanding of what “social” really is.
Snapchat isn’t like Facebook, Twitter or visual mediums like Periscope and Instagram, either. With other platforms you can fool yourself into thinking you’re properly leveraged by simply “posting” and ignoring engagement. Also, its paid advertising is a bit rich for most ($100k for an ad on its 3V platform—down from $700k last year).
But for pure social engagement, I think it deserves close consideration, especially for retail brands who cater to its 13-34 age demographic. If you have the resources to build audience and are willing to stick it out for the long haul by communicating and creating new stories consistently, Snapchat can be a powerful, sustainable brand builder with younger audiences.