The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Audience on Snapchat
Growing your Snapchat audience is a big pain in the butt. If you are not willing to put in the daily effort, you won't grow in Snapchat, simple as that - unlike other platforms, you can't aggressively follow others in order to build your audience.
It's tough to grow your Snapchat following, but this guide will give you some ideas on how to build your Snap following and crush the the ghost like no tomorrow.
Here are some key Snapchat tips and tricks.
Snapchat growth isn't about growth, it's about retention
Unlike other social platforms, Snapchat has absolutely no native discovery features. As noted, you can't just go out and follow a heap of others for follow-backs to build your audience, it just doesn't work that way. Snapchat's all about building an organic community. You can't cheat or game the system.
Real Snapchat growth is about retention of users more than growth of new users. You only get one shot to impress new users so they keep coming back, that means your content must be extraordinary and consistent - I'm talking daily.
There are two ways to create extraordinary content daily.
- Invest time, money, and energy creating unique content that no one else is doing, or...
- Build a community around an idea.
The latter is much easier to do - for more on that listen to Gary Vaynerchuk's Youtube video:Advice to a young man, then read the only Snapchat hack you need for marketing. Both are great pieces of advice that I would tag as 'required reading'.
Once you fully understand the religion it takes to win in Snapchat can you move onto growth.
Snapchat Growth = Massive Hustle
If you're just starting out with Snapchat, chances are some of your friends will be on the platform already. Add all your phone contacts who are also on Snapchat. They already know you.
Outside of adding your phone contacts, there are two main growth tools to utilize. The first is the much-loved QR code. Every Snapchat user has a unique QR code called a "Snapcode" - this is Snapchat's secret hack to finding other users. Whenever someone new takes a picture of a Snapcode, or scans the image with Snapchat open, they'll be able to easily connect with that Snapchat user - this is my Snapcode if you wanna' try it out.
- Take a picture of this Snapcode
- Open your Snapchat app and tap add friends
- Hit add by Snapcode
- Touch the picture you just took in your phone
Simple as that - you just added me as a new friend. Your own QR code can be found by swiping down from the main screen. For a high-quality image, tap your own Snapcode and hit the export button in the top righthand corner.
This second tool is only really powerful if the person clicks the link from a mobile device - there are limited uses if the user is on a desktop.
- Open your favorite internet browsing application on your mobile device
- Type into the URL Snapchat.com/add/austiniuliano and hit enter
- Snapchat will open up a unique page that links to your Snapchat account - in this case, my account. If you happen to be on a desktop, it'll just bring up my basic Snapcode for you to snap with your phone.
To access your secret Snapchat page, just swap out "austiniuliano" in the above URL for your user name.
Now that we're clear on how to be added on Snapchat, it's time to get discovered. This is where your hustle mode has to go into overdrive - to build up an audience you have to become more creative and share your Snapcode everywhere. As I said earlier, there's absolutely no native discovery on Snapchat.
There is however, a few third party services out there that can help you get discovered. Like any other tool they can be used for good or evil, so reader beware, you have to put in the work to make them effective. Let me say this upfront: don't expect your numbers to grow just because you add 10,000 people on Snapchat.
The most well known third party Snapchat discovery service is Ghostcodes. The app was created by two Snapchat influencers as a means of being discovered and to find other relevant Snapchatters. This tool can be amazing for finding other like minded individuals who share similar interests.
STEP 1: Download GhostCodes
The first thing you want to do is open up the app store and download Ghostcodes.
Once you've downloaded the app, open it up and make a profile (if you're prompted for a secret access code, use the word "boo" or "slimer")
STEP 2: Create Your Profile
Upload your QR code, pick your interest, and hook up your other social media accounts to your profile.
Pro Tip: Upload a high-quality pic of yourself and you'll get more hearts and more downloads.
STEP 3: Search for Interests & Add People
Once you have your profile created, click on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the app and search for things you're interested in. For example, Let's say you are a Star Wars nerd (like me). In this case, you could search for 'Star Wars'.
Download the profiles of anyone who likes Snapchat, add them on Snapchat and become friends.
Currently, there are 828 people who love Star Wars - that means that if you consistently talk about Star wars on your Snapchat stories you'll probably be able to develop good connections with these users.
The last thing to remember when adding people via Ghostcodes is this... don't expect people to watch your stories because they added you.
You need to create real relationships with these people, you have to take the time to talk to them and learn about them. Adding 1,000 people from Snapcodes and never engaging with them will net you very few results.
However, on the flipside, adding 1,000 people and maintaining 1000+ relationships will get you loads of results. The key to all social media success is depth over width, deep relationships vs building a huge following.
The next third party discovery service is newer to the market called Snapdex.
Snapdex calls itself "the Wikipedia of Snapchat". Anyone can sign up and add their Snapchat account - once you do, fill out your profile, description and upload some screenshots of your Snaps. This provides searchers with a preview of the type of Snapchat content you create.
Once you've uploaded your photos and been given approval, ask your friends to give you some reviews of your Snapchat account.
Will it make you famous overnight? Heck no, but it is another place with your Snapcode and links to your social accounts, adding to your personal discoverability. Plus it also gives you a nice clean URL to use if you want to.
Snapchat Growth Strategy: Start Local and Think Globally
It doesn't matter if you're a local business or looking to build your personal brand, nothing beats face-to-face connection with your audience. There's a reason presidential candidates, to this day, still tour around the country shaking hands and kissing babies. Is it the most efficient use of a president's time? Absolutely not, they can reach a much great audience giving a speech that is broadcasted throughout the world, but that simple human connection secures votes for a presidential candidate.
Building a social media following is very similar - you have to go above and beyond to create authentic human relationships with as many people as you can. It's very easy for people to forget about you and not care in the least bit, but as soon as you meet someone, even once, you form a tighter connection.
Start with your local high traffic areas as a means of connecting with new potential followers. Do you live in a metropolitan area or have one that is close by? How about a college campus near you?
Once you identify those high traffic areas do the this:
Go to Nextdayflyers.com and have them make you 5,000 QR code Snapchat stickers (they should cost you about $200 and by far are the cheapest I have found).
Once those stickers arrive, go to the high traffic areas and yell "Free Snapchat stickers". It's embarrassing and a bit crazy, however, people will walk up and claim their free stickers, all of which include your Snapcode.
Over two days I handed out stickers to roughly 500 people directly, not counting the small children who just wanted stickers. Of those 500 people I generated 100 new views to my Snapchat story and now have permanent (or semi-permanent) billboards around town.
Those stickers also continue to get me new followers - people send me new Snaps daily of where they found my Snapcode. It's a great way to meet new people, build an audience, and make friends.
Customized Snapcodes Increase New Followers by 20-40%
Little known fact - your Snapcode can be unique. Inside of the ghost outline, you can create any image you want. Find yourself the best graphic designer and have them create you a customized image. Just remember to keep the black border outline, the ghost outline, and the dots exactly where they are.
When I first started handing out Snapchat stickers, I would see a small uptick in new users. People still got excited by the plain Snapchat QR code and would add me, just not as frequently. Once I had the image customized, I saw a massive increase in new followers. On average one out of every three people would add me with the new design.
People would add me because the image looked awesome and they wanted to know more about me, it gave a stronger first impression, it made me seem bigger since they were professionally done, and they captured attention. People would go around with the new stickers and place them in different locations because they thought the stickers were cool.
This also netted me new followers since people would see it and want to check it out.
To get a customized Snapcode, find a local graphic designer or go onto Fiverr.com.
Create a Custom T-shirt with Your Snapcode
Turn yourself into a walking billboard for your brand. A simple black T-shirt with your custom Snapcode on it will turn heads like no tomorrow. Most people won't say anything and just smile as they pass you, but roughly 1 in 25 people will start a conversation with you. They'll say something like, "Love your shirt" or "SNAPCHAT"
That is all you need to spark a conversation - once you engage and tell them that they can actually scan the shirt, they'll want to try it. This creates a big scene and more people will come to see what's up. This also becomes the perfect time to hand out those stickers from earlier.
Once you start building your following the custom T-shirts can also become an awesome gifts to send to your audience, creating an army of brand advocates who'll rock your Snapcode as they go for walks or runs.
Going Global Through Social Media
Share your Snapcode on every social media platform where you have a presence. I'm sure you've read this before, but it truly does work. Change your profile image on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram to your Snapcode. Once you've done that, whenever you're using social, in any form, you have the opportunity to attract new users.
You can also aggressively follow new users on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - I would recommend following at least 200 new users a day. On average, around 20-25% of these users will follow you back, which helps build your audience on all platforms. If you then follow up with the real work of having conversations and engaging with those users, 5-10% of those followers will also become Snapchat friends.
This may amount to only 2-4 new followers a day per platform, but that's also 2-4 new followers per platform. Over the course of one year, that's easily 2000+ new followers.
Use the Subreddit /r/Snapchat
Reddit has hundreds of subreddits that totally kick butt, but for the purpose of this article, there's only one subreddit you need. /r/Snapchat is a great place to find other people looking for more followers and friends. Plus it's also a safe place to go and not find a bunch of creepers since there's an entire subreddit for dirty Snapchats.
This is one of the few subreddits where self promotion is okay.
When using this subreddit, make sure to follow the rules posted in the guidelines and give the people a reason to follow you. Don't just post your username, say something like "I have the silliest snaps in the world." This way you'll get people who actually want to watch your stories.
Write Blog Posts with your Snapcode in the Article
One blog post can be the difference between obscurity and minor celebrity.
Even if you don't have a blog that generates significant traffic, there are places like Linkedin, Medium, and other places where you can write. Linkedin and Medium are simply extraordinary because articles do go viral quite frequently. Both sites have an internal feedback loop that shares your article to more people on the site as it's recomended by connections.
My friend Justin Wu - better known as Hackapreneur was put on a list in Medium as one of 10 top entrepreneurs to follow, along with the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk. This one post blew Justin up almost overnight to 1000 views a day on his Snapchat stories.
When entrepreneur and Twitter expert Joel Comm wrote an Inc article, hat generated a heap of new connections for him within the Snapchat community.
Syndicate Content on Other Blogs
If you have access to other authority sites, and the content is relevant to those platforms, you can also syndicate your material. Syndicated content is a means of re-using content onto other authority sites, and this is a great way to get additional exposure.
I mentioned earlier Linkedin Pulse and Medium are two sites everyone can syndicate too, but they are far from the only ones. If you write for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc, Fast Company, business.com, etc. they all allow you to syndicate content.
Syndicating content takes some additional effort, but it can massively increase your reach.
Run Facebook Ads
I don't recommend running Facebook Ads just to get more followers unless you only care about that. I'm a marketer and a businessman first, and the number of followers you have doesn't equal revenue. That being said there are great ways to use Facebook's powerful advertising platform to increase key metrics and build your audience.
One of the top techniques I use is to run Facebook ads to a key blog article, with my Snapcode included within the post. This boosts traffic to your blog, while also helping to build your Snapchat audience.
It's a great method to proverbially kill two birds with one stone.
With retargeting, Lookalike Audiences and some really honed in design and copy can generate a heap of clicks to your website for cents on the dollar. Nothing beats Facebook ads right now in growing your email list.
Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Ads
A note here - I believe that no matter which advertising platform you use, it shouldn't be for the sole purpose of generating more followers. It doesn't make sense from a business perspective - unless you're a full blown Snapchat influencer and the more followers you have = more money.
That being said, other social platforms are also extremely powerful and can be major assets in growing your online empire. Take the time to learn each of them and test which work best for your business and objectives. I've seen some massive success from Instagram advertising and Pinterest too.
Build your Musical.ly Account to Grow Snapchat
Musical.ly,for those who don't know, is the newest social media app making waves. Musical.ly's essentially a lip sync singing app - think Dubsmash meets Vine.
I'm not gonna' lie, I couldn't believe this app was so popular with the tween market, but after I started playing around with it I was hooked too - once you get in and start looking at what other kids are doing you'll see why.
First off, anyone can lip sync a song - there's no skill or high barrier for entry on the content side. And second, there's an entire culture online around choreographed dancing along with lip synching.
Musical.ly feels very much like Vine, but the ability to add music into your micro pieces of content is much more native.
Of course the Musical.ly audience is young kids around the age of 10-16, so if your audience isn't this demographic there's probably not much point focusing your efforts here. But if it is, this age group absolutely dig this type of fun native content. Musical.ly content can also be uploaded to Instagram, Facebook, Vine, and shared on Twitter.
The other awesome thing about Musical.ly is that right now there are very few follow restrictions. That means you can do a heap of follow and unfollow actions to grow your account, if that method works for you. I've been super aggressive in this department and have generated an audience over 5,000 fans in a matter of days.
Overall growing on Snapchat takes a ton of hustle and hard work. That being said, I personally don't think it's overly difficult. Growing your following on Snapchat is more of a mindset - I think of it like "how I can run fast while still approaching this like a marathon?"
The tips in this guide are what I used to get discovered, and how I got to my first 1000 views on Snapchat. Hopefully they can help you achieve the same.
Follow Austin Iuliano on Twitter