Snapchat is often misunderstood.
It’s not a full-blown social network, but it’s far more than just a messaging app – which begs the question: What is Snapchat?
What’s more, do you need it? Will it help you to grow your business? And how can you learn how to use Snapchat for business?
Because for those who already use Snapchat for business, this quirky platform is an incredibly powerful marketing channel.
In this article, you’ll learn what Snapchat is, why you should use it, and how to use Snapchat for business.
Plus, stick around because you’ll also learn about the two key ways to grow your following on Snapchat and six types of content you can start sharing today.
- What is Snapchat?
- Why Should You Learn How to Use Snapchat for Business?
- How to Use Snapchat for Business in 4 Simple Steps
- What Do Your Customers Want to See on Snapchat?
- 5 Content Ideas for Businesses Learning How to Use Snapchat
- How Can You Get Followers on Snapchat?
- How Can You Measure Your Success on Snapchat?
- Want to Learn More?
What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a messaging platform and social network that’s only available as an app on mobile devices. Users can “chat” with friends by sending them photos and short video clips called “Snaps.”
It’s like texting, but with photos and videos.
Unlike other large social networks, which keep your content online forever unless you decide to delete it, photos and videos on Snapchat disappear after a few seconds.
This allows Snapchat interactions to feel spontaneous and anchored in the present moment. This form of direct, in-the-moment communication has undoubtedly changed the way people interact with friends online.
Despite this innovative form of communication, you can still use the app for video calls and text messaging.
Additionally, Snapchat has no newsfeed or stream and instead relies on their pioneering “Stories” format.
As a business, this is what you’ll be focusing on.
When a user shares content to their Story, it can be viewed by all of their followers at the top of the Discover page. These Stories are viewable for 24 hours before they disappear.
The image below shows the Discover page:
At the top, users can see Stories from their friends.
Next, they can see Stories from all of the accounts they subscribe to. When users subscribe to your Snapchat account, this is where they will see your stories.
Lastly, at the bottom, users can scroll through recommended content from popular brands and other accounts relevant to their interests or location.
Why Should You Learn How to Use Snapchat for Business?
Snapchat is currently the sixth most popular social media platform in the world.
Furthermore, about 71 percent of Gen Z (the generation born after Millennials) use Snapchat on a daily basis, and 51 percent of this group use it about 11 times per day.
Now, you might be worried about all of your content disappearing after you’ve created it. Or that Snapchat doesn’t even provide public-facing profiles, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter do.
But, these apparent shortcomings are actually Snapchat’s greatest strengths.
The fact that Snaps disappear after being viewed means there’s an urgency to Snapchat that other social media platforms don’t have.
In other words, Snapchat has harnessed FOMO: fear of missing out.
As a result, the average user opens Snapchat 25 times a day and spends more than 30 minutes each day on the app.
Bottom line: Users pay attention to Snapchat content.
This is crucial.
As serial entrepreneur and Snapchat evangelist Gary Vaynerchuk explains: “It’s not how many followers you have, it’s how many care. It’s not width, it’s depth. It’s not how many impressions you get, it’s how much attention you get. Before you tell your story, you have to have somebody’s attention. And what Snapchat does, is it gives you someone’s attention.”
Plus, although Snapchat advertising is taking off, the platform still has tons of potential as an organic marketing channel for businesses.
How to Use Snapchat for Business in 4 Simple Steps
Okay, now that you know what Snapchat is and why you should use it, let’s run through how to use Snapchat for business.
Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with the Snapchat App
There are four main windows in the Snapchat app:
- Snap Map
When you open the app, you’re shown the camera. This is where you can capture and customize content to share. We’ll dig into this in a minute.
If you swipe left, you’ll see the Discover page, which shows recommended Snapchat Stories.
For now, scroll down and tap on a couple that interest you (and try not to get distracted for too long!).
Now, swipe across to view the Friends window. Here, there are three tabs:
Here you can add friends, family, employees, and any other connections you have. This is a great way to start getting the word out about your new Snapchat presence.
Okay, now that you’ve got your first Snapchat friends, let’s look at how to use Snapchat’s Snapmap. First, swipe back to the camera and tap “Search” to open Snapmap.
Here, you can see and interact with Snaps of events and breaking news around the world by location.
Just click on a Story to view it, and tap the blue arrow to add a comment and forward it to a friend.
Okay, take some time to familiarize yourself with Snapchat’s interface before moving on.
Step 2: Learn How to Use Snapchat’s Camera
Now, let’s take a closer look at how to use Snapchat’s camera to create content that you can share as Snaps or Stories.
Tap the large white circle to take a photo, and hold it down to capture a video of up to ten seconds.
If you’d like to upload content from your device’s camera roll, just tap the image icon at the bottom of the screen.
At the top-right of the screen, you can also turn the flash setting on or off, and switch between your front and rear-facing cameras.
Okay, let’s take a look at how to use Snapchat’s face filters.
Snapchat has tons of different photo and video customization options, but “face filters” is the only one available before you capture your image or video.
To open this feature, tap the smiley icon.
Then, make sure you’re using the front-facing camera and scroll left or right to find a filter that you like.
Once you’ve found a face filter you like, just tap or hold down the center circle to capture a photo or video.
Step 3: Edit Your Content
Once you’ve captured a photo or video – or uploaded content from your camera roll – it’s time to learn how to use Snapchat’s editing features.
Snapchat provides a whole host of ways to edit your content. The icons for each customization function are displayed down the right-hand side of the screen.
You can add text by tapping the “T” icon, and tap the pencil icon to draw on your image or video.
Once you’re familiar with these features, tap the sticker icon to open the sticker search page. Here you can search for a specific sticker, view stickers by categories shown as icons, or simply scroll down until you find something you like.
The scissors icon allows you to cut a section of your image or video and pin it to your content. Cool, right?
The paperclip icon is extremely important when using Snapchat for business. This is how you add links to your Snapchat content when including a call-to-action.
The timer icon allows you to choose how many seconds to display your Snap before it disappears, including “No Limit.”
If you’re editing a video, this timer icon will be replaced with the option to loop your video on repeat.
To view different filters, just swipe right or left. Snapchat lets you add up to three filters to your photo or video. When you find one that you like, tap the “+” icon to select it.
Tap the icon again to view the filters you’ve selected, and to remove any that you no longer want.
The image below shows how these stickers and editing features can help to make things interesting.
There are endless ways to creatively edit your Snaps. So the best way to learn how to use Snapchat’s customization tools is to dive in, get Snapping, and play!
Before you share your Snap, you can tap the icon in the bottom-left corner to save it to your camera roll.
You never know which Snaps will perform best, so save them all. That way, you can repurpose your best performing content for other channels at a later date.
Now, there are three ways you can share your Snaps:
- Snap Message: This is sent directly to your friends or group chats.
- “My Story”: Viewable by all of your followers for 24 hours.
- “Our Story”: Viewable by anyone and featured on the Snapmap for 24 hours.
If you just want to share it to your Story, there’s a shortcut icon in the bottom-left of the screen. Otherwise, tap the blue icon to see all of the sharing options.
Here, you can search for a specific person to send your Snap to, and add it to “My Story” and “Our Story.”
As a business, you’ll be aiming for maximum exposure, so make sure to add all of your content to My Story and Our Story.
What Do Your Customers Want to See on Snapchat?
Remember, Snapchat is all about connecting in real-time. So focus on creating authentic, transparent, and personal content.
While it might feel scary to open up, embracing transparency can be great for your brand. In fact, a whopping 94 percent of consumers say they’re likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.
Let’s look at an example of transparency done right.
DJ Khaled proved the power of Snapchat marketing way back in 2015. This hip-hop icon and entrepreneur used Snapchat to build a rapport with his closest fans. His Snaps were entertaining and provided a behind-the-scenes look into his lifestyle.
Google Trends shows the correlation between the introduction of DJ Khaled’s Snapchat presence and his rise in popularity.
Once Snapchat elevated his brand, DJ Khaled used his popularity to further his career and promote products from his fashion line.
His rise was due not to the number of followers he has, but the depth of connection he has with them.
Okay, so authentic transparency is key, but what exactly should you share?
5 Content Ideas for Businesses Learning How to Use Snapchat
Now that you know how to use Snapchat, let’s run through five types of content you can create to promote your business on Snapchat.
But first, a word of warning: Don’t overdo the self-promotional tactics.
Research has shown that a massive 45 percent of consumers will unfollow a brand if their content is dominated by self-promotion.
Snapchat is a place for real connection, not mass marketing. And it’s time to get personal.
Share selfies, funny photos, and any entertaining moments that occur throughout your day. These posts should give followers an insight into your business culture and the people behind the brand.
Easy enough, right?
2. Build Anticipation for New Products or Services
When launching a new product or service it’s good marketing practice to build anticipation in advance.
Use Snapchat Stories to spread excitement by dropping hints, demos, and teasers that will make followers feel like they’re getting an exclusive peek at what’s to come.
3. Showcase Your Products or Services
Capture your product or service being used out the in real world.
This is especially useful for ecommerce businesses, as your photos and videos will showcase your product’s value, as well as give customers a better idea of its physical features, such as color and size.
While most of your content should be focused on building a genuine connection with your audience, it’s also important to convert followers into customers.
Occasionally, incentivize followers to buy from your store by sharing special discount codes just for Snapchat followers.
5. Do a Snapchat Takeover
This is when you let another Snapchat user take over your account or you take over another user’s account.
Invite a micro-influencer in your niche to take over your account for the day. The idea is to cross-pollinate your audiences.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a big fan of takeovers, saying: “These takeovers are not only fun but are also a great example of a 50/50 value exchange – a partnership that’s mutually and equally beneficial.”
It’s important for both you and the influencer to promote the Snapchat takeover on other channels ahead of time.
Plus, takeovers are a form of endorsement and social proof. In other words, the partnership helps to validate your brand as trustworthy and interesting.
Similarly, if you have team members, you could take turns running the account to keep things fresh and interesting!
How Can You Get Followers on Snapchat?
First, let’s address the biggest challenge with using Snapchat: Users are unlikely to stumble across your account in the app.
In fact, unless you delve into Snapchat advertising, the only way for users to find you is to specifically search for your account.
So, how can you grow your Snapchat following? Well, there are two main methods:
You’ve probably already seen Snapcodes floating around online.
Every account has a unique Snapcode and username. To find yours, tap your picture in the top-left of the screen to view your profile information, and then tap your Snapcode to bring up the sharing options.
Once you have your Snapcode, you can promote it on other channels, like Facebook and Twitter, or use it in emails to your mailing list.
When you first launch your Snapchat account, consider using your Snapcode as your profile picture on other social media channels to draw attention to your Snapchat presence.
Share your Snapcode regularly, but not so much that you might annoy followers who don’t use Snapchat.
After you’ve shared plenty of content on Snapchat, you can take your best content and create a compilation video to share on other channels like YouTube and Facebook.
This is a great way to draw attention to your presence on Snapchat, and it gives people a taste of what to expect if they follow you.
Plus, you get to reuse content you’ve already created and your best Snaps will be hosted permanently on another platform.
How Can You Measure Your Success on Snapchat?
When learning how to use Snapchat for business, it’s important to know how to track your progress.
For years, Snapchat was devoid of any analytics or metrics that marketers could use to constantly improve their strategy. But this all changed in February 2018 when Snapchat finally added “Insights” to the app.
To view these, just tap your profile photo in the top left of the screen and then tap “Insights.”
Here you can view your Story views, view time, reach, and demographics by day, week, or month.
Snapchat can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool. So when learning how to use Snapchat for business, dive in, experiment, and learn as you go!
Remember, Snapchat is all about connecting in real-time – it’s power lies in its ability to help you connect with your audience on a deeper, more human level.
So focus on building an authentic, personal rapport with your most active and loyal customers, and don’t be afraid to get personal.
Take advantage of Snapchat’s customization and editing features to shake things up and keep your content interesting.
Lastly, track your progress with Snapchat’s Insights to understand what works best so that you can continue to improve your strategy.
Now, get Snapping!
Have you had any success using Snapchat for business? Leave us a comment below about your experiences so far.