Social Media Marketing

How to Use Snapchat for Business (and How It Works)

28 June, 2017
6 min read
Leslie McDermid

6-minute read
No intro, let me jump right into tips on using Snapchat for business.

Snapchat, as most know it, is a messaging app where users can share self-erasing photos and videos with fun filters. With time and a few feature updates, it has become a fully-fledged social media app, loved by millions worldwide.

What’s more, marketers and brands use Snapchat to create more personal connections with their customers. It’s a social media network second to none at giving a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of your brand, products or service.

Snapchat logo

Before jumping straight into creating a profile or worrying about how to grow your account, let’s talk about the basics: Snapchat’s main features and how to use them.

Make sure to understand the nuances of this platform and you’ll quickly see if it can work for your business and/or marketing campaign you’re planning.

Snapchat is named as *the* place where millennials and young adults hang out.

At first try, Snapchat can seem quite confusing, but it becomes clearer once you spend a bit of time on it. This platform is primarily fun and is ideal for sharing quick insights, live product launches, special promotions as well as day-to-day moments of your life and business.

Snapchat has also gained a lot of attention (we saw both Instagram and Facebook incorporate very Snapchat-esque features to their platforms called Stories). It remains to be one of the most talked about social media platforms after growing its user base by 50 million daily active users in 2016.

Data suggests that more than 50% of Snapchat’s users are aged between 18-34.

If you go onto Snapchat purely to sell, it’s not going to work. Snapchat is all about storytelling and creating compelling content that people will go out of their way to watch and keep going back to each day.


Your guide to using Snapchat for business

Snapchat’s main features

What’s a Snap?

This is what Snapchat is famous for. Snaps are photos and videos (up to 10 seconds long) you capture with your camera and can send to other users (friends). Snaps disappear automatically after being seen.

What are Stories?

The idea of photos and videos displaying in a collage for 24 hours and then disappearing was first coined by Snapchat. Stories allow you to add up to 10 posts that will play in a chronological order until the time runs out.

How does Chat work?

Similar to Snaps, chat messages sent between friends disappear as soon as you’ve seen them. You can chat with users and save chat messages that are most important to you, like an address or a promotional code sent from a brand.

What are Memories?

Snapchat recently launched Memories - a feature that allows you to publish photos and videos taken outside of the mobile app and create posts that don’t disappear. Memories encourage you to get creative with telling your brand’s story and help reuse the best of your Snaps and Stories.

What are Filters?

In essence, Filters are overlays and stickers you can add to an image or video that has already been taken. You can also create your own geofilters for Snapchat to promote your brand, location or event for a small sum.

How to use Lenses?

Some say Snapchat wouldn’t be as fun without them. Lenses add fun real-time special effects and sounds to a person's face, all you have to do is find a face and point the camera into their direction.

Tip: To activate Lenses simply hold the thumb on a face after launching the camera and the selection will become available to you.

Snapchat's Lenses feature

What's SnapMap?

SnapMap is the newest feature brought by Snapchat that allows you to track the location of your friends in real-time. Designed to help users find "stuff to do" and engage in offline activities, but it has instead caused serious privacy concerns. Time will tell if Snapchat will make this work.

If you decide to get into Snapchat, you’ll want to find an audience who will actually be looking at and engaging with your Snaps, in other words - grow your account.


Snapchat marketing: How to grow your Snapchat account


How to grow your Snapchat account

1. Host a Snapchat takeover

Finding an influencer to take over your Snapchat account is an opportunity to grow your presence and reach a much wider audience. For example, Snapchat consultancy and agency, Ginicanbreathe did a takeover for SoulPancake, a media production company.

The process was simple - Gini mentioned that she was taking over the brand’s account on her own Snapchat, then shared their Snapcode and invited people to follow her journey there. I personally ended up following SoulPancake and can only imagine how many people they acquired from this takeover.

One of the brightest influencers on Snapchat, Sarah Peretz hosted a takeover of the CollegeHumor account. The process was similar to Gini’s - she first told her own audience about it and shared the College Humor Snapcode to then bring her audience over to their account. On the day of the takeover, she introduced herself on CollegeHumor’s account which saw a significant increase in engagement and viewers.

Sarah Peretz hosting a takeover for College Humor

If you decide to try an influencer takeover, make sure to find someone that has a large and engaged audience that takes action. You also want to remember that once the takeover is over, it’s up to you to keep creating engaging content consistently to keep those new followers coming back to your account.


2. Intrigue your viewers

This piece of advice is something I heard from the digital marketing guru, Gary Vee and he certainly knows how to do social. If you haven’t heard about Gary or need a quick lesson on Snapchat’s history, read this blog.

He encourages businesses to use other social media networks to share a piece of their Snapchat story to compel people to add you as a friend, contrary to only doing contests. This is how you do it:

  • Share a post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Stories that you’re traveling somewhere and ask to follow you on Snapchat to watch the whole thing.
  • Give one amazing, valuable tip and tell people they can get more for free on your Snapchat.
  • Do an exclusive interview on Snapchat, but mention on all of your other networks.
  • Always give details about new product launches or promotions  first on Snapchat.

Once people get used to the fact that you put out your most interesting, fun and useful content on Snapchat, they’ll start to automatically go there to get it.

Shonduras, also known as Shaun McBride, gained a huge following on Snapchat thanks to his complex Snapchat art. The brands started to take notice and it took off from there. He shares fun content that includes his community in games and stories, plus he’s amazing at interacting with his audience and gets them engaged.

Shonduras creative Snaps, part one

Creative Snaps by Shonduras, part 2

Other ways to grow your Snapchat account:

  • Make sure to incorporate your Snapchat code into your social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Mention Snapchat when you create videos, and add your Snapchat code so people can easily screenshot and add you.
  • Use Ghostcodes to find people to follow and to get more followers.
  • Add your account to Snapdex.

Once you start growing your account, it’s imperative you stay consistent so that people keep seeing your content and hopefully, share it with their friends.


3. Run promotions and contests

People love free giveaways and taking part in contests. If you do decide to run promotions on Snapchat, there are many fun ways to roll them out. These ideas should engage Snapchat users and encourage them to take action:

  • Create a special coupon only for your Snapchat audience*
  • Exclusive giveaways and photo contests
  • Behind-the-scene previews and teasers (Q&As)
  • Special limited time offers
  • Flash sales

*Ask people take a screenshot of your coupon and share it on another platform to get the deal. You can also ask people to message you directly for their coupon code.

Whichever promotion you’re running, you need to create a sense of urgency which Snapchat is perfect for. People respond quickly when the offer is compelling and they know it’s only available for a limited time (especially if they’re in the market to buy).


4. Track your success and growth

You’ll need to measure your success after investing time in Snapchat marketing. If you want to understand how well you’re doing, you can use Snaplytics that allows you to:

  • Monitor the number of your views, screenshots, open and completion rates
  • Track follower growth daily
  • Benchmark against other accounts
  • Gain key competitor insights

The best way to track your success is by keeping in mind the engagement with your audience and if you're reaching your goals, e.g. the number of people using a coupon.

As with any social media strategy or platform, having a clear goal in mind will help you understand if Snapchat is working for you whether it’s brand awareness or a specific number of sign ups that you’re after. You’ll need to give time for your account to grow as building a loyal, engaged following won’t happen overnight.

Are you using Snapchat for your business? Connect with me there and let me know if you learned something.

Editorial credits: Dean Drobot / | Ink Drop /