Once upon a time, Snapchat was just a hangout for the tween crowd trying to avoid the prying eyes of parents on Facebook. Now it's one of the most popular social networks in the world, boasting over 200 million users. A whopping 71 percent of Snapchat users are 18-24 year olds and experts say the company is working hard to target growth in older demographics.
Clearly, Snapchat is one of the hottest parties in town and your brand needs to be there, but what is Snapchat and how should marketing teams use it? Here's what you need to know.
What Snapchat's all about
At its heart, Snapchat is a photo and video sharing platform with a twist. Posted content, or 'Snaps', disappear a few seconds after viewing and can't be retrieved again by users or their followers. Although it is possible to string images or videos together into longer "Stories," even those only remain available for 24 hours.
Unlike professional networking platforms like LinkedIn, Snapchat's a very casual environment.
"When your marketing team is creating a strategy for Snapchat, you need to settle on a tone of voice that will be used across the board," suggests Forbes' Jayson DeMers. "Ideally, the language you use should be easy-to-understand, and your posts should have a sense of fun. For example, think about incorporating the drawing function on Snapchat that allows you to add edits to your photos. Doing so will make your team seem more personable and approachable - all added bonuses when attempting to connect with your audience."
How to use Snapchat
Marketers may wonder why they should bother to carefully craft branded images only to have them vanish into the ether, but that's looking at Snapchat the wrong way. A better approach is to create a set of best practices on how to use Snapchat spontaneously and post content on the fly.
Getting ready to take the stage at an industry event? Taking the sales team out to dinner to celebrate a big win? Is it 'Bring Your Goldfish to Work Day' at the office? Snap a picture of the audience from backstage, grab a pic of the IPA your team is quaffing over sushi, or record a quick video of Gladys Goldfish swimming around in her bowl, and post those bad boys on Snapchat.
Snapchat's the perfect medium for engaging customers in a way that lets your organization's personality shine through. Don't worry about perfectly staged settings. Don't do 57 retakes to capture just the right 10-second video. Embrace imperfections, low lighting, and shaky cam. It's okay.
Remember that social media's all about about engagement, not a one-way sales platform, so get your followers in on the action.
"Everyone loves social media giveaways and promotions, so think of ways you can keep your followers coming back for more. For example, you could offer promo codes or discounts to the fans who watch your entire Snapchat story, or ask them to take a snap while holding your product," recommends Social Media Examiner's Kate Talbot.
Now that you know the basics of what Snapchat is and how to use it to engage your customers, it's time to grab your smartphone and start Snapping.