Telling your brand story through Snapchat

April 29, 2015  

As it turns out, all the buzz around Snapchat is legit. The platform now has over 200 million monthly active users,1 and 77 percent of college students use it at least once a day.2 Brands that adopted Snapchat early on (like Taco Bell, American Eagle, and MTV) are reaping the benefits of a deeper connection with their customers. The big question we continue to hear from our clients is, “Does Snapchat make sense for my organization?” Our answer: yes.

Who uses Snapchat?

It’s no surprise that the platform is most popular among younger demographics: Gen Z and Millennials account for 51 percent and 33 percent of the user base, respectively. This is significant because today’s youth are increasingly hard to connect with. (You won’t find them much on mass social networks like Facebook anymore.)

Why are they using it?

Due to the self-deleting nature of its content, Snapchat initially acquired an undeserved reputation as an app for sending suggestive content. This is simply not the case. Users are drawn to its ephemeral nature, but mostly because it affords a sense of exclusivity. They use Snapchat for doodling funny things on their images, snapping selfies and pics of others, showcasing what they’re up to, and participating in experiential content around live events. It’s a novel and creative way to have a conversation with an individual or small group while maintaining control over your privacy.

What’s working for brands?

User-generated content. An event like the 2014 World Cup may happen in only one place, but people across the globe have a chance to experience it as a community. User-generated content. Extending the brand. Whether it’s in Hollywood or on the home court, there’s always an appetite to get a look behind the scenes. Snapchat offers a way to deliver this to a wide audience of captive users — in real time. At Vanity Fair’s Oscars After-Party, the magazine drew on celebrity brands to extend and reinforce its own. Vanity Fair’s Oscars After-Party An exclusive experience. Users love the opportunity to experience a brand firsthand. Retailers like Free People use Snapchat to give its followers one-of-a-kind insider access. An exclusive experience Integration and separation. Don’t underestimate the power of your other social channels to drive attention to your Snapchat community. Just remember to keep the content distinct. Taco Bell understands that each channel has its own unique content expectations and purpose. Integration and separation

How could (or should) brands use it?

  1. Authentic storytelling: Because Snapchat is a quirky messaging platform, there are some communication nuances that make interactions feel more intimate and slightly unpolished. But if you can successfully translate your visual and verbal identity, it can become one of the best expressions of your brand’s true self.
  2. Purpose-driven content: With Snapchat, brands can now connect with users more seamlessly and authentically. Strong brands not only convey who they are with their content, but also invite their audiences to contribute to a larger collective narrative. This can help you better understand your audiences, rally them around a message or cause, and share the things that matter most to them.
  3. One cog in the content wheel: If you want to add Snapchat to your digital ecosystem, your approach needs to ensure that it’s part of a holistic content strategy. Snapchat is not a strategic solution. Content is. And content must extend across many channels and many formats, so that your messages are delivered to the right audiences at the right time, for a compelling, consistent brand experience.

1 TechCrunch, December 31, 2014
2 Mashable, February 24, 2014