This post was originally published 12/2/14 and has since been updated. Snapchat started as a social app to share photos and videos, allowing users to send "snaps" to other users for 1 to 10 seconds. After the determined time period, a sent photo can't be viewed again unless a user takes a screenshot of the image, but Snapchat does send a notification if this happens. Since its initial release, Snapchat has added a chat feature and an online peer-to-peer payment option called Snapcash. As its popularity among users continues to rise, more brands are picking up on what Snapchat is and are considering using the social app to reach their target audiences. The challenge of Snapchat marketing though, is how to effectively leverage mere seconds into content that will convert your target audience? Currently, Snapchat's audience is around 26 million, and is just behind Twitter and and in front of LinkedIn for the average amount of daily time spent by users ages 19-29.
Average User Time Spent with Social Networks
Marketers who have started to implement Snapchat into their social media advertising strategy with outside of the box tactics and proper execution have had good initial results. Due to the nature of the platform, Snapchat is not for every business or industry, but if you think that photo and video sharing can help you reach your target audience, here are some intuitive strategies: Send a Flash Promotion to Drive sales. Inform your target audience and existing customers to follow you on Snapchat for exclusive deals, and send out a flash sale notification or promotion code only on Snapchat. Those who see your snap will take advantage, and they could possibly spread word-of-mouth about your Snapchat promotions to the rest of your target audience too. Amazon and Hollister came together on Black Friday this year to send out an advertisement that was exclusive to followers on Snapchat.
Black Friday Snapchat Ad
Promote the culture and lifestyle of your company. Add product sneak peeks, showroom shots, and content that gives users an inside look at your brand. This is a great way to develop a relationship with your target audience, and stay fresh in their mind as a go-to brand. Show the Behind the Scenes of Your company Give your target audience a sneak peak of unreleased products, the work life of your employees, and other images or videos that made them understand your company more as a brand. If you can successfully tread the line between business and lifestyle, your users will come to appreciate and purchase from you in the future.

Is Snapchat marketing right for your brand? Consider the following:

Does Your Target Audience Use Snapchat? A recent eMarketer study reported that 11% of all U.S. internet users are actively using Snapchat, and of that 11%, 70% of them are woman. (More Snapchat statistics) Is Snapchat's system of displaying content advantageous for your business? Look at your other social media marketing options and consider the differences, opportunities, and possible disadvantages that Snapchat marketing can have in reaching your target audience. Will Snapchat be worth the investment of time and money that you could be putting towards another social media advertising channel? Are you pursing short-term or long-term Snapchat marketing? Like any other marketing channel, you need to consider a plan of action and strategy to effectively use Snapchat. Are you just going to use the platform for a special sale or promotion once a year, or are you going to aim towards building a Snapchat following with consistent snaps and stories to engage your target audience?

What brands are finding success marketing on Snapchat?

Many brands are, and finding success in it. Here are my 2 favorites: 16 Handles A well-known froyo and smoothie chain, 16 Handles utilized Snapchat in a 2014 New Year campaign. 16 Handles asked users to snap a photo at one of their locations and send it to their official Snapchat account. Upon receiving a user's snap, 16 Handles would send a snap back with a customized coupon.
16 Handles Snapchat Promotion
This campaign was successful because it involved combining the online and offline experience of customers with 16 Handles. Users were asked to go to a physical 16 Handles location twice, and the second time they received a discount snap, which they could not open until they were at the register, ready to pay. This was a fun and interesting way to get customers to not only use Snapchat to interact with 16 Handles, but to build anticipation for the discount and create engagement with the actual employees at the 16 Handles locations as well. Snapchat Corporate Marketing This is actually a recent marketing strategy that I came upon in my own Snapchat user experience, and it involved the release of Snapcash, which is Snapchat's version of Venmo or Google Wallet. But unlike the advertisements for its competitors, I actually watched and enjoyed the Snapcash promotional.
SnapCash Advertisement

What can marketers take from Snapchat marketing successes?

Snapchat is still a relatively new channel to market on compared to Facebook or Twitter, and as the graph below shows, only 2% of client-side marketers agreed that the brands they worked on the most have any sort of online presence on Snapchat:
Brand Presence on Snapchat
A unique insight to consider when using Snapchat is the open rate and success of snaps based on images and messaging. Snapchat only allows for temporary visual exposure in the form of a 10-second photo or video. By experimenting with different types of messaging and content on Snapchat and seeing which snaps perform the best in terms of user engagement and brand awareness, businesses could use Snapchat as a testing optimizer to find out how to communicate with their target audience on other social media platforms or channels. If you have come to the conclusion that Snapchat is a marketing channel that you would like to implement in your brand's overall social media strategy, remember that the idea of snaps and stories are only meant to be seen in a short span of time. If you believe that your marketing tactics can have an influence on your target audience beyond the length of your 10-second images and videos, Snapchat is definitely a channel to experiment with. What Snapchat marketing best practices have you applied to your overall marketing strategies? Let me know in the comments section below or tweet us @BFMweb.
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