Snapchat is gaining a recognition as serious platform for brands but will it actually help your bottom line?

It will depend on how you use the social media platform and what your goals are. Finding and connecting with the right audience can be challenging.

I invited past guest, Ted Rubin a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators, and past guest in Episode 119, to share his key insights on using Snapchat to grow your business. If you’d like to hear his backstory, career highlight, and when it didn’t work moment, listen to Episode 119.

At the time of this recording, Instagram had just released Stories. The new feature is similar to Snapchat. Instagram says this about Stories.

Today, we’re introducing Instagram Stories, a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.

Phoebe: “This is going to be fun because we are going to dive into Brand Journalism Community Snapchat. Like I always tell you when we have a repeat guest and we’ve only maybe had just a couple who’ve been on the show in the best. Ted is very influential, he’s very important in this aspect of what we’re talking about today, about Snapchat. He’s going to share some key insights, whether your brand needs to be there. If you want to hear his back story, if you want to hear about the time when it didn’t work, you want to hear about his career and how he got to where he is today, his career highlight and many more things, talking about looking people in the eye digitally, that was episode one nineteen. That’ll be at Think Like A Journalist dot com. I’ll put that in the show notes for you. You’ll be able to see that.”

“Right now though, we’re going to talk about Snapchat. I hope my voice isn’t sounding a little too husky, I got to tell you I just celebrated my thirty year reunion, high school reunion so it was a late night Ted.”

Ted Rubin: “I bet. My fortieth is in a few months.”

Phoebe: “Yeah? Awesome.”

Ted Rubin: “I hear you. No, I think you sound great.”

Phoebe: “Okay.”

Ted Rubin: “My voice is always a little bit like that.”

Phoebe: “Yeah.”

Ted Rubin: “It’s just something that I’m used to.”

Phoebe: “All right, I’m hoping I’ll make it through but it was a good time had by all. Fun things. I’ll tell you what, nobody was Snapchatting at it and I asked you to come on the show because I’ve watched you. I have to be quiet honest, I don’t use Snapchat all that much, huge fan of Instagram and Facebook and the other platforms. Give us a little bit of insight about Snapchat, what it is in case there’s people out there who just aren’t using it.”

Ted Rubin: “First of all, I have to tell you that I love Snapchat. When I say that, what I really mean is I love what Snapchat allows you to do. I try to think a lot about these platforms, about how they empower us versus the platform unto itself. Do I love Facebook or do I love what Facebook allows me to do?”

Phoebe: “Right.”

Ted Rubin: “I don’t really love Facebook, I love that I can stay in touch with all my high school friends or get back in touch, that I can share my personal life with my friends, my family, and my business associates because one of the things I like to say is that I don’t think there’s a line between business and personal anymore. I think everybody wants to know who you are as a person and I think we intertwine our personal lives much more in business than we ever did.”

“Just think about when we were growing up and I know I’m ten years older so I’m not trying to put you in the exact category as me.”

Phoebe: “Sure.”

Ted Rubin: “My dad would have to sneak out to get to a little league game to see me or he didn’t see very many. If he was there it was a special occasion whereas now, I think, very often, even in big Fortune 500 companies, your supervisor will look at you and say something like, “Phoebe, what are you doing here? Isn’t your daughter … Doesn’t she have a game today?”

Phoebe: “Right.”

Ted Rubin: “Part of that is a change in expectations in culture, part of that is a change in capabilities. With technology comes the ability to do more. You can be at that game and still answer emails, be in touch with people. The social platforms have enabled us even that much more.”

“To get back to Snapchat now, what I love about Snapchat and what really drew me to it, probably a little over a year ago, is that to me, it’s the only pure social platform that exists today. I’ll explain what that means. You can be on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, and all you do is push out content, you never engage with anybody and you can convince yourself that you’re getting the most out of the platform. Truth be told you will be getting something out of it because it does give you a certain reach and the ability to publish without having to be on a major media publication. You’re really not getting what I consider the real value of that ability to engage and interact and learn and listen and everything else. You can fool yourself into thinking that on those platforms because people will like your posts and you’ll see people sharing it, you’ll get a lot of followers.”

“On Snapchat, if you’re not engaging, communicating, and/or story telling, you might as well not be there. Nobody will pay attention, there’s no likes, nobody will care about what you’re doing if you’re not using it the way it was meant to be used in that way. On top of that, it’s a lot of fun once you understand it. It’s not very intuitive. We’re going to get into that. There’s a reason probably why a lot of your followers or a lot of marketers or a lot of, not just companies, but the people like the people at your reunion might not be using it. Even though they might make fun of it, they really probably wanted to try it but they went on, they didn’t understand that it was hard to figure out.”

“I love it. I will tell you right now that I think every marketer in your audience needs to familiarize themselves with it, even if they’re not really going to make use of it they need to understand it. There’s a few reasons for that. First of all, to understand where live media, live video, and story telling is headed. That’s number one.”

Phoebe: “Yes.”

Ted Rubin: “If you don’t know where things are going … Look, if you follow me, and I’m at Ted Rubin just about everywhere, what you’ll hear me say a lot is, stop worrying about what’s next and execute on what’s now. Too many people are looking too far out when it’s not their job. Every company needs that person. What I find is that if you don’t understand the platforms, that you don’t understand the lingo, you don’t understand the language, how can you understand your customers?”

“I would venture a guess that, of course, there are niche businesses where you’re only reaching seniors or you’re only reaching other groups but all in all, young people are an important part of everybody’s future. You notice I use the word, “young people,” I don’t say millennials, I don’t say generation Z. I love what Melissa Proctor from the Chief Marketing Officer for the Atlanta Hawks calls it. She calls them “future generations.” I just think we limit ourselves with certain labels.”

Phoebe: “Sure.”

Ted Rubin: “I would venture a guess that most businesses have some interest in that. Plus, what I find a lot when it comes to technology and the way things are changing so quickly is a lot of this change tends to bleed upward instead of coming down. The old way was your CEO would try something, he’d pass it down to somebody below and he’d say, “Hey, all of our staff has to learn this.” What I see now is it’s the younger people who are much more comfortable, they’re digital nators, they’re using technology.”

“Little by little their parents are starting to acquire it, their grandparents, the people at work are saying, “Wow, that’s kind of cool. Who did you just speak to? What did you do?” Those things are happening. The fastest growing demo right now in Snapchat are people over forty.”

Phoebe: “Interesting, okay.”

Ted Rubin: “It was very quickly adopted by [inaudible [00:06:36]].”

Phoebe: “Right.”

Ted Rubin: “Number one because their familiarity with technology. We’ve all seen kids, my friend’s children were here there other day playing here and we went to the beach. They’re five and seven. They know how to do things on almost every app I have that I don’t know how to do.”

Phoebe: “Of course.”

Ted Rubin: “Even when they just get a new app, they figure it out in seconds. We learn a lot from those that are younger than us. It’s very different somewhat than it used to be. I think Snapchat is an incredibly valuable platform, if not for using today to understand the way people are communicating and story telling.”

Phoebe: “Yeah, Ted that’s what I want to talk to you about. You said something that was interesting that I happen to agree with having come from a news broadcasting background in traditional media television here in San Diego. That’s that people have to understand about live streaming, doing what t.v. calls “going live,” doing live shots. Why do you think that’s so important?”

Ted Rubin: “It’s where everything’s going. Video, if you look at every single social media platform out there, if you look at every media platform out there, I don’t care if it’s Bloomberg, or CNBC. They’re all getting more and more capabilities to broadcast live content and allow their audience to do the same and interact and engage with them.”

“Just think about this, what senior executive would invest a million dollars in a t.v. commercial without understanding t.v.? Without, at least, watching that commercial. At the very least, “Okay I don’t watch t.v. Hey, George our commercial’s on the Super Bowl, tune in. I want to see it.” They’re not doing that with a lot of the social platforms. They’re spending millions of dollars on these buys. They’re having people under them understand it and they’re not really getting it.”

“Look, here is one of the things I talk about a lot, there’s a lot of buzz around Snapchat for brands and it’s at a high decibel level. Just like other new social apps, there’s lots of tutorials and how to articles created on a daily basis that show you how to get the most out of these things. What happens after that shiny new toy syndrome? You’ve got to get in and try it for yourself, there’s no way to learn like doing it. That doesn’t mean that I’m telling you that every executive at least have an active Snapchat following, but they need to jump in. They need to watch how people are using Snapchat. They need to use it themselves just to understand what it takes it to. Even if it means sitting down with someone in your office who walks you through.”

“I want to be very clear with everybody there, I am not good at these things naturally. I am not a technology guy. I’m a marketer. I’m a relationship guy. When I want to learn how to use a new app I get a younger friend, a younger business associate to walk me through the app because I’m not intuitive, just like you, I’m no different than your audience. You follow me, you see I have all these followers on all these platforms. Every one of these platforms initially was taught to me by a colleague or by a friend or by somebody that I said …”

“One of them is a guy named Brian Fanzo. His Twitter handle is I Social Fanz. He’s thirty-two years old. He’s a techie from his original background. He understands all these things and what he does, is he cuts through a lot of the clutter for me. I’m sure a lot of your audience, just like me, gets frustrated. Someone says, go try Snapchat. They download the app and they go in and they’re lost. They spend hours trying to figure out what to do and then they get frustrated. By the way, it doesn’t even take me hours to get frustrated, I’m frustrated in twenty minutes if I can’t do what I need to do.”

“What I’ve learned to do is I find go to people. Like the guys. Brian initially walked me through Periscope, which is a live streaming app and Snapchat. What did he do? He taught me the basics. How do I make it? How do I use it? How do you connect with somebody?”

Phoebe: “Sure. Let’s talk about what you’ve gotten out of it. You also told me there’s the good and the bad about it. I totally agree with you, by the way. I happen to be a really techie, hands on person. I’m a video journalist and having come from all that side of it, I love this stuff but there are certain things. I took a liking more to Periscope, I took a liking to Blab, I love Facebook Live. I think that those are great platforms. In brand journalism community these are all topics that we’ve covered in the past so I’ll put links to show notes so you can get, if you want to learn more for instance, about Facebook Live. That’s going to be huge as time goes on.”

“Tell me what you got Ted, personally, what do you get out of Snapchat? Is it helping your business? Is it helping your brand?”

Ted Rubin: “I’m going to tell you what I got out of it. First of all, after someone teached me the basics, what I do, and what everyone in your audience needs to do is figure out, how can this work for me? What’s here that’s relevant to what I do? For me, it’s all about building relationships, it’s all about sharing content and engaging. My goal was to learn the basics then to figure out, I don’t care what everyone else is doing, how’s it going to work best for me?”

“Some people might say, “Hey, you never use the filters.” For your audience, filters means you can make funny faces or you can do different kinds of screenshots. I don’t use those a lot because I use Snapchat a lot more of the way you might use Snapchat, Phoebe. You’re a journalist. I get on and I have conversations with my audience. I share parts of my world with them.”

“Now how has it benefited me? First of all, the first and foremost way it benefits me and will everybody, every single person in your audience is it familiarizes me with the technology, it familiarizes me with the ability in the social platform that people are using. When people talk about Snapchat, I’m not the guy sitting in the room not knowing what the hell they’re talking about. That’s number one.”

“Number two is it’s allowed me to be in a place, where certain parts of the audience I want to reach, where they spend most of their time. I tell this to people all the time, make sure to be where your audience is. One of the audiences I don’t attract as much in all my other places that I have a profile or that I interact, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, where ever else is young people in, let’s say, their twenties. I don’t get a lot of those followers. I have those followers but they don’t necessarily engage with me.”

“All of a sudden, after about a year ago when I went on Snapchat, I started acquiring a much bigger audience of people in their twenties who are giving me insights and understanding of the way that demographic thinks and the way that age group thinks. It’s also bled, people have gone from Snapchat because they met me there and they looked at my profile or they heard from somebody else, “Oh, Ted Rubin, he Tweets a lot. He’s got a lot of posts on Facebook.” A lot of them have followed me to places where I’m possibly more comfortable or where I put out more static content. If your audience is not familiar, the content on Snapchat disappears in twenty-four hours.”

“Now, you can save it and you can download it and use it elsewhere. That’s where the second part of the huge value I’ve gotten out of Snapchat. I use Snapchat to create engaging content that I share in other places. Snapchat’s app allows you to make these short form videos that go one after another. You can put writing on them, you can draw on them. I will tell you guys, I don’t draw on them at all because I’m terrible, I have no creative talent whatsoever. People that do, do remarkable remarkable things. If you are one of those people, you might be a creative or an artist or something else, you’ll be able to show a lot of your creative spirit in things that you create. You might take a picture of you talking on a beach and be able to draw your own sun behind it or flowers or other things. You’d be surprised at the incredible things that some of these artists are doing on Snapchat.”

“What I love about it is I can take, it has something called “geo tags,” which means you can tag where you are, where the picture of … I’m in Pompano Beach right now, so I can put a Pompano Beach logo in, of course, the bottom or Fort Lauderdale logo or there are a lot of companies that create these around events. There might be a Super Bowl logo the day of the Super Bowl or an Olympics thing that you can put a photo as part of your video and create engaging content. What I do with that is I download it and then I use it on Snapchat, I use it on Facebook, and I use it in a lot of other places that helps me do things that are a little different. I mix it up a little bit. People are seeing things that are a little different.”

“I can have short conversations, unlike let’s say, a Periscope where I feel compelled to talk for a certain period of time that might be two minutes, five minutes, twenty minutes but is also harder to get people to engage with as I’m sure you already [inaudible [00:15:08]].”

Phoebe: “Absolutely. I love this that you’re talking about the re-purposing of content. Again, it just reminds me of t.v. news and re-purposing for the different platforms that we had whether it was sharing content with another radio station or on the digital streams that we would do, re-purposing for a later news cast. Love how the world is working in this way and marketers are engaging in that.”

“I want to talk to you, though, about what Instagram is doing right now and how you feel that this might impact Snapchat. Instagram, obviously, coming out with new things and it looks like it’s taking aim at Snapchat with it’s stories platform. Share with us a little bit about that.”

Ted Rubin: “Just quick thing, the other last reason that also comes very well into this question you’re asking is that Snapchat has attracted a huge audience of millennials and Gen Z. Basically, people under thirty-four years old and people under eighteen and twenty years old. Another reason, depending on what you sell and what you do, you have to go where your audience is and if that’s where their spending most of their time, then it’s an important platform to look at.”

“Now let’s segue into this big announcement that came out just a few days ago. Instagram launched Instagram Stories. To me, it’s an incredibly smart move by Facebook. We all know that Facebook owns Instagram.”

Phoebe: “Right.”

Ted Rubin: “That’s why I refer to that. It’s more tools for creating content. It all sounds good to me. First of all, they’re getting a little grief. You always get the people who are the purists who are saying, “Oh, Instagram’s copying Snapchat.” That’s what business is about.”

Phoebe: “Yes.”

Ted Rubin: “Did Google invent search?”

Phoebe: “Right.”

Ted Rubin: “Of course not. Do you guys remember all the different search engines there were?”

Phoebe: “Oh, yeah.”

Ted Rubin: “How about Ask Jeeves? Yahoo made their mark originally as a search engine.”

Phoebe: “Right, it’s just about doing it better.”

Ted Rubin: “It’s about doing it better and it’s also about … Or just doing it as well or just offering it as another tool in the tool belt. One of my takes on this whole Instagram thing is that number one, there’s a lot of people, like you Phoebe, or probably a lot of people in your audience that there’s one of two things that’s happened. Either they’ve gone out and tried Snapchat, they’ve done it, they might even love it but they haven’t built much of an audience yet.”

“For the last two or three years, maybe four or five, they’ve been working their butt off building a huge audience on Instagram. They can’t do the stories on Instagram, they can only do the one all photos or even if you do post them they’re just videos, there’s no engagement possibilities. Now, all of a sudden, they have the ability to do it on Instagram. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen, there’s a lot of pundits making predictions right now. What I see happening is I don’t think this is the Snapchat killer, I don’t think Snapchat’s going away. For right now and probably for the foreseeable future, meaning these days foreseeable future is six to eight months versus it used to be six to eight years. Snapchat has a lot more capabilities. There’s a lot more you can do with it. There’s more creativity you can add to it.”

“What people are finding is, all of a sudden, these people that have big Instagram audiences can produce the same kind of content. A lot of young people as we know are on Instagram, so all of a sudden a lot of brands are shifting a lot of their mindset to, at least if nothing else, experimenting with Instagram and seeing what they can do in the same way. Then people like you and me, and even me, where social media’s my business are saying, “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to have one less place that I have to go to.”

Phoebe: “Right.”

Ted Rubin: “To produce content, to engage with my audience. Instagram has added some interesting features where if you download the quick story you just made it goes right on your phone. Whereas Snapchat, it stays in Snapchat then you have to do a second process of downloading it to your phone. They kept their community a little bit, a little more gated. They want it to be a little harder to take their content to other places.”

“I think there’s going to be a lot of experimentation. I’ll tell you in the short term, I’ve worked hard on building my Snapchat audience. I have not worked aggressively, I think there’s a difference. In other words, I’ve been there regularly, I’ve been producing content. I’ve been following other people but I haven’t done with it what I’ve done with other platforms but I’ve gradually built up my daily views. I’m sorry, my views on everything I post, which at this point are up to about three hundred. Not a very big number when it comes to influences on the platform who get thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands but a lot compared to a lot of people there. I’ve watched that cut in half just in the last few days.”

Phoebe: “Interesting.”

Ted Rubin: “Since Instagram Stories have launched. What I’m testing is I’m also producing very similar content on Instagram Stories.”

Phoebe: “Right.”

Ted Rubin: “My growth there is happening at an exponential pace compared to the way it happened on Snapchat. I have over thirteen thousand Instagram followers. What’s happening is a lot of them don’t even know Stories exist yet. If they know they haven’t made the move there or checked it out or realized that some of their favorite content producers are there. I’m paying very close attention.”

“This is also a good segway into a conversation with your audience about paying attention. About watching what happens where you are. You go into Twitter, don’t just go in or Facebook or anything and just do it, pay attention to how is your audience growing, what’s happening with engagement. Are people sharing your content? Are they getting involved with you? Are they coming back? This is no different than if you were a retailer and what’s really important. One of the biggest problems with [Jet[00:21:04]] dot com is they like to brag about all their growth but the vast majority of their customers don’t buy a second time.”

Phoebe: “Sure. [Inaudible [00:21:16]] and burn kind of thing. Yeah. Ted, I really love this conversation because I think brand journalism community, what should be really sinking in is the getting familiar with something, not being afraid to test it out. It doesn’t mean that that’s where you need to stay. Just like Ted said earlier in this conversation, “At least when I’m in the room, I know what people are talking about.” It’s like going to a cocktail party and not knowing the day’s events or world affairs. You need to be aware of these things and then determine whether or not it’s right for your brand. It’s that awareness, it’s the tracking, and then learning to pivot.”

“Ted, as we start to wind down, what final advice do you want to give about Snapchat and maybe Instagram Stories? I think we need to really make sure that we’re pushing these two, that people understand get involved and look at how it’s working.”

Ted Rubin: “I’m so glad you asked that because I had another point to make and I was afraid it wouldn’t have been right but it’s exactly the question you’re asking. When you watch … Here’s a really important point, anytime you jump into something new, don’t compare the amount of viewers you have or the engagement you have directly to what you’re getting at other places. Compare the growth rate. In other words, I’m new on Snapchat. I’m going to have just a few people or on Instagram Stories. Watch how it progresses. See how it grows. Look at the percentage growth.”

“Back in the day in two thousand nine when I jumped into social, I was at Elf Cosmetics as the CMO and everyone was saying, “Oh my god, we’re creating some sales and stuff off of social but it’s so fractional compared to everything else we’re doing.” What I had to make them understand was it was fractional, incredibly fractional but the growth rate compared to other channels was exponential.”

Phoebe: “Wow!”

Ted Rubin: “We were growing at seventy-five percent a month. Now and what you have to do then is figure out where’s that going to get me in six months? Of course, at some point it might slow down because the bigger you get, the lesser your growth percentage is. Pay attention to … First of all, understand everything takes time. Nothing happens over night. Look at your growth rate, look at your engagement rates, look at what’s happening versus the audience you have not versus your entire universe. I think that’s very important when you’re trying new things.”

Phoebe: “Love it, Ted. Thank you so much for everything that you’ve shared. Brand Journalism Community, go out there and try it. I’ve goofed around with it, it’s actually kind of fun. The more you learn these things, the more you get comfortable with it. I think the real key thing is all about going live. What t.v. journalists have done for a very very very long time. The more people and brands get comfortable with that, we start to see an authentic side to the personality of the people behind the brands. That is so important.”

“Ted, thank you for everything that you’ve shard on the Brand Journalism Advantage Podcast.”

Ted Rubin: “My pleasure and just one last tip to your audience, remember real trumps perfect. Don’t worry about being perfect. Don’t worry about choreographing everything, jump in and try it.”

Mentioned In This Episode

Instagram Stories Send Clear Message To Digital Marketers

5 Ways To Use Snapchat For Business

Snapchat Stats




Twitter @TedRubin

Ted Rubin website

Snapchat: @TedRubin

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