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We live in the era of personal broadcasting. We use Facebook to share articles; Instagram to advertise our breakfast; Twitter to publicize our thoughts. Snapchat combines all three and is fast becoming the key medium for brands to reach younger audiences.
How brands can use Snapchat
Snapchat is a one-to-one and one-to-many messaging service that boasts 30 million monthly active users, with more than 750 million snaps sent every day. In fact, 55% of monthly users use Snapchat daily—an opportunity for brands to reach 16.5 million people every day.
What originally appeared to be a short-lived experiment has exploded into a social network that encourages photo and video sharing, text messaging, brand marketing, and recently, the distribution of news articles.
On Snapchat, brands currently can do four things:
- Send personalized snaps to followers (free)
- Post snaps to their own “My Story” (free)
- Sponsor a “Featured Story” (paid)
- Feature content on Discover (paid)
My Story lets users post a series of images or videos that their Snapchat friends can view for 24 hours. It works similarly to a Facebook status in that it’s publicly broadcast rather than individually sent.
My Story gives brands immediate analytics on view count and audience retention. Brands can see, in real time, who’s watching each part of their story. If 200 people view the first piece of the story but only 50 view the last, audience retention is low. Because users must keep their finger pressed down to continue watching the story, brands can also be sure that the audience is actively engaged. This immediate feedback can inform future strategy.
One brand that uses My Story effectively is Mashable. Its stories include creative doodles over daily office life, recent news, and live events. Mashable has quickly learned that Snapchat is “an extremely powerful [brand] tool for delivering visual stories,” and it has strategized around Snapchat’s ephemeral nature by posting saved Stories to YouTube—a seamless cross-platform marketing strategy.
The Featured Story is a collaborative story made up of user-generated content that the entire Snapchat user base can view for 24 hours. Users submit images and videos within the geographic border of a city or event, and Snapchat HQ vets them to create a two- to three-minute narrative. Recently, Coachella featured a Snapchat story for its three-day music festival. It received more than 40 million views in three days!
Snapchat’s newest feature, Discover is a dynamic way for users to explore and share news articles with high-def graphics and videos. Discover attempts to bring short-form news content to those who otherwise might not read the news. Brands can pay to feature content in Discover, either as news content or advertisements, though Discover still has relatively limited analytics.
Why Snapchat is popular
Snapchat’s appeal to millennial and postmillennial audiences is its authenticity. It thrives on its point-and-shoot functionality—the sharing of real experiences. It abandons perfectly posed graphics and Photoshopped models in favor of a scrappy, DIY vibe that feels more genuine.
On Snapchat, brands can give followers unedited peeks at behind-the-scenes footage, star takeovers, or new products. And though Snapchat provides the option for brands to write and draw on each part of their story, branded content shouldn’t require much explanation—it should be basic, yet compelling.
Snapchat is what it is, and that’s what younger audiences want and will trust. The ghost won’t be disappearing anytime soon!