August 12, 2015

The 5 W’s of Snapchat: A Marketer’s Guide

Candie Harris

Snapchat may be a newer social media network, but it should not be overlooked. It isn’t just for sending silly selfies. If you are a marketer or social media enthusiast, you can’t help but notice the plethora of information being shared about Snapchat. Whether you are confused about the benefits of Snapchat for marketing, or an avid user, this guide is designed as an easy reference tool to help you maximize the opportunities for your brand.

Here’s the who, what, when, where and why of using Snapchat for marketing.


Millennials: Snapchat is growing so rapidly that it is difficult to keep track of its user base. However, recent statistics indicate that if your target is US millennials (18-34 in 2015) Snapchat is where they are (33 percent have an account and 30 percent access that account regularly) and where you need to be. Additionally, US millennials in college are even more prevalent on Snapchat, with 77 percent of college students using Snapchat daily and 58 percent of them saying that they would likely purchase from a brand that sent them a coupon via Snapchat.


Engage Influencers: AT&T launched SnapperHero, the first influencer-driven scripted series on Snapchat. The four week series featured YouTube, Vine and Snapchat influencers pretending to be superheroes in short video stories.

Raise Awareness: The World Wildlife Fund ran a #LastSelfie Snapchat campaign to raise awareness about endangered species. Snaps disappear quickly much like endangered species will disappear quickly if we don’t help. As a representative for the brand said, “The emphasis of this new campaign is to underline that if we don’t take action in real life, these species will disappear for real.” UNICEF also used Snapchat to generate awareness. They resurfaced the conversation about the missing girls from Nigeria. By sharing drawings by children who fled Nigeria, they reinforced that childhoods disappear as a result of the conflict in the area.


Retail: The timely nature of Snapchat’s content makes it a great place to share timely content like coupons. 16 Handles was one of the first brands to use Snapchat to host a promotion. Asking users to wait to view it until they were ready to pay added excitement and an easy way to tie ROI directly to the campaign. An added benefit was the ability to interact with them while they were still in the store.

Behind the Scenes: People enjoy exclusive content. Give it to them by taking them behind the scenes. Show live events, big company updates, or even daily life at your company. Apple recently launched a Snapchat account to provide followers with a look at the making of Beats 1 Radio. Not only does it showcase different locations and different DJs, but it also helps build awareness for the “For You” Apple Music tab.


Run Contests: GrubHub recently ran a successful #SnapHunt on Snapchat. They launched a week-long scavenger hunt. People participated by replying to Snapchat’s stories. GrubHub saw results. Their Snapchat audience increased by 20 percent, one-third of their followers participated, and they received more than 1.5 million organic social impressions across multiple platforms.

Tease New Releases: HBO’s Girls team used their Snapchat account to share exclusive previews of the trailer for their much-anticipated fourth season. Lena Dunham also shared behind the scenes information and clues. Fans shared their excitement on Snapchat and other social media platforms.

Share Real-Time Content: What better place to share real-time content than the most watched sports event of the year—the Super Bowl. Many brands shared real-time content during the last Super Bowl, but only a few used Snapchat. Mountain Dew, GrubHub, and McDonald’s all stood out for using Snapchat in unique and refreshing ways, tapping into key times and behaviors and reinforcing their brand and cross-platform messaging.


Reach Highly Engaged Users: Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel stated that as of May 2015 Snapchat had 100 million daily active users in developed countries. Of those people, 65 percent upload snaps and stories—a high rate of engagement for any social media platform. Although the exact number has been debated, it is clear that there are hundreds of millions of snaps shared per day.

Limited Lifespan Content Creates A Sense of Urgency: A snap lasts only a few seconds and a Snapchat Story only lasts for twenty-four hours. If people want to engage with your snap or watch your Snapchat Story, they have to act quickly.

Stand Out From the Crowd: Although the number is increasing daily, there are far fewer brands on Snapchat than other social media networks. Start snapping now to stand out from the crowd.

All of these factors contribute to one of the most compelling aspects of Snapchat—it humanizes your brand and makes advertising authentic. Use our guide to set your Snapchat strategy and let your story begin!

Tags: Best Practices, Real-Time, Snapchat

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