Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Is Snapchat Right For Your Business?

One of the biggest trends in social media right now is Snapchat. Everyone is talking about it. A lot of people are using it. You may even have an account or be using it for personal use. But how do you know if Snapchat is right for your business?
Well, in this blog post, I’ve got you covered! I’ve scoured my sources for the best details and information to both help you determine if Snapchat is right for you and also how to use it effectively if you decide to use it for your business.
Now, I should add a disclaimer her that I am NOT an active Snapchat user. I don’t even have a Snapchat account. And that’s for a variety of reasons. I may get an account in the future. I don’t know. But, I do know how social media works and I know how to find the best info to get you on the right path. So, here are links, information, and details to help you decide for yourself.
Now, of course, a lot of other people are using Snapchat. While the platform’s founder says he isn’t counting the number of monthly active users, he’s counting daily active users and puts that number at 100 million – a day! And he claims 65% of those users are posting photos or videos to their accounts. Those users are posting an average of 9000 posts per second!! That is a lot of content, and a lot of engagement.
So, who are all these people using Snapchat? Studies have shown that 73% of millennials (those aged 18-34) are using this platform. Yes, the demographic is heavily canted towards those 25 and younger. But, of course, as popularity grows, so do the demographics. You can expect to see a shift to more “adults” using the platform in the coming months and years.
One of the biggest distinguishing features about Snapchat is that the content is designed to self-destruct. Whether after viewing or after a certain time period, the post will no longer be available to view. Of course, the marketer in you is probably wondering how on Earth this is a viable marketing tool since we want all our content to last forever 😉 But we’ll get to that in just a minute…
As Snapchat has advanced, however (and recently released version 2.0), the disappearing content is no longer the big deal that distinguishes it from all other platforms. Instead, it’s becoming a platform that allows for all types of communication – from messages of any length, to audio, to video, to photos, to live chat, and more.
If you’re ready to jump on the Snapchat bandwagon, here is what you need to know to get started.

Setting Up Your Snapchat Account

If you are new to Snapchat and want to set up an account and get started, you can check out Snapchat’s own site for the best starting point. Choose the topic of choice from the left side menu to walk you through everything from setting up a new account to the intricacies of the platform.
In all my research, I found some really good articles that help give you insights into how to use the platform. I recommend you check these out if you’re new to Snapchat or want to figure out more about the platform:
I totally recommend you read those articles. But, for a quick synopsis of some key things to consider about setting up your account, here are my thoughts:
You cannot change your username after you set it. And if you delete your account, your username will not be available again. So make sure you pick the right username! If you’re going to use your account for business, don’t set up Snapchat with your personal name or some other weird username. Think strategically here!
It’s easy to add friends with multiple ways to connect with users. Of course, you’ve probably seen the yellow ghost cutout avatar all over social media. These are each user’s unique snapcode. When you’re in Snapchat, you can quickly scan someone’s snapcode and add them to your contacts – easy peasy! But a recommendation on this – be careful when uploading this snapcode to other platforms as your profile photo. If the platform crops your avatar to a circle (ie. Instagram), then it may (most likely will) cut off part of your snapcode, rendering it useless to you.
That being said, it’s not as easy to grow your audience on Snapchat as it is on other platforms. Due to the nature of the platform and the search functionality, people likely won’t find you unless they know about you. So make sure you capitalize on your existing audiences on other social media platforms, your email list, and other communities and let them know you’re now on Snapchat.
You can have individual snaps (photos or videos) or you can create stories (a series of snaps stitched together). You can add filters or text to your posts for a whole level of personalization you won’t find anywhere else. But this also makes it much more casual.
People on Snapchat are not there to linger. They’re easily bored and need constant activity. Don’t let your photos sit for more than a couple seconds and keep videos (cut off at 10 seconds) to something punchy and active. When stitching stories together, keep it quick and moving purposely.
Because the platform is so “hurried”, there is less of an expectation for perfect photos or well-formatted videos. It’s expected to be raw, real, and authentic. That being said, you still want to put your best foot forward. Try to get the best lighting, make sure your camera lens is clean, pick attractive backgrounds, and think about what else is in the frame. And, keep in mind, Instagram users used to be all about the “real” and now it’s all edited and leaning towards perfection, so chances are Snapchat will get to that point sometime too.
Yes, Snapchat is different from any other platform. Some people find it very difficult to grasp or understand or use conveniently. But, for those who do like it, they love it, and the features and use become natural to them. But because this platform is so different, this will also affect how you use it for business. So, I’ve rounded up my best advice for using this platform for your business.

Using Snapchat for Business

Now that you know what the platform is about, and how it works, the question is, how can you use it for your business? And should you?
Of course, you know I’m not about to tell you here and now if you should or shouldn’t use it. That’s not something I can determine without working with you directly. But here is some guidance…
Your audience may (or may not) be on Snapchat. The platform is growing and depending on your target audience, they may already be here. If they’re not, they may be soon. Much like we’ve seen with the growth on Instagram, just because they aren’t here now, doesn’t mean they won’t be in a few months or year. And getting in now, establishing a presence, and getting comfortable with the platform will make it much easier when your audience does get more active on this platform. There’s no time like the present!
And, because the platform is new and marketers haven’t “figured it out” yet (ie. how to game it to splash their message all over the place), if you can get on there, and use it appropriately to build your community, you will have a serious leg up on your competition.
Yes, at some point, we can all assume that this platform will go the way of every other platform, and introduce broadly accessible ad placement and revenue generating tactics (right now, the minimum ad budget on the platform is $100,000). So, having the audience and presence in place now will provide you with advantages when that time comes.
Of course, it’s hard for me to say you “have” to be here, even if your target audience is millennials. I don’t say you “have” to be anywhere (except maybe Facebook, but that’s another conversation). But if your target audience is active on Snapchat, it might be worth investigating.
Because of the unique engagement on this platform and the variety of communication methods, this can be a hard platform to navigate as a business. It’s not marketing as you are accustomed to and it’s unlike anything you will experience on other platforms. So you’ll have to think differently – and think about community building, not marketing.
You need to consider the atmosphere on Snapchat. People are having FUN. Goofing around, doing silly faces, making fun of themselves (have you seen some of these filters?!). So going on there all stiff, uber professional, or depressing or serious, is NOT going to connect with this audience. Take into account the platform and the best messages you can share in this context.
You also need to be prepared for engagement. Yes, people will respond and chat with you after you post. So be ready for them! Anticipate responses, questions, and reactions. And be available! Do NOT post and disappear.
Of course, as I always preach, you need a strategy! Do not go jumping on Snapchat, uploading a bunch of content, and wonder what might happen. No. Take the time to research the platform. Then determine how you will use it. How will it enhance your business? How often will you post? What will you post? Why are you posting? What are your expectations? All that good stuff and more needs to be determined BEFORE you start throwing stuff out there.
You should consider adding branded elements to your content. Think about color schemes, product placement, keywords in your videos, and other ways to make your brand stand out. Build all of this into your strategy so that there is cohesion no matter what you post.
Speaking of what to post, here are some ways you can use Snapchat in your business:
  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Ask questions of your audience
  • Offer a regular series to answer popular questions or address a current issue
  • Go behind-the-scenes of your business
  • Share insights into a live event
  • Create tutorials or tips
  • Share how-to content
  • Build anticipation for a new product or launch
  • Showcase your employees and/or their personalities
  • Share your thoughts and feedback on any topic related to your business
  • Host a contest
  • Exclusive discounts or promotions
  • Flash sales
You can (and should) branch into offering discounts or promotions, but understand that this platform isn’t all that easy to use this tactic. Whether requiring your audience to take a screenshot or remembering a code, you can get them to interact with a promotion but it requires more work on their end. So make the campaign worth it to see best results.
Think about your call-to-action. Like anywhere else, giving people a clear, direct message on what you want them to do is paramount to building the success of your business through Snapchat.
There aren’t any great metrics for you to measure the “success” of your campaigns or activity. You can see how many people viewed your stories, and how many took a screenshot, so you have those basic metrics. You can also measure the fall off rates in your stories (from one snap to the next) so you can see what’s working and/or where you’re losing people. This can help you to create better content and stories in the future, improving your interactions with your audience.
But you can’t see how many are following you, or compare following counts and vanity metrics like we see on every other platform. Is this good or bad? You can decide! But when you aren’t focusing on the vanity metric of followers, you can focus on creating the best content for your brand.
 As you can see, there is a lot to understand and a lot to adapt to if you plan to use Snapchat. Can it work? Sure! Plenty of businesses are using it successfully. But you will need to establish what “success” looks like to your business and have a healthy understanding of how you want to build your community through this platform. Explaining this concept to board members, owners, or clients may not be the easiest thing. Give it time and build it at a pace that works for everyone.
Are you using Snapchat? How are you measuring success and do you feel it’s working for your business? Join in the conversation in the comments below!