How Businesses are Using Snapchat

An image messaging application first launched in 2011, Snapchat is now worth a staggering $20 billion. The application has an impressive 150 million users—more than Twitter—and is estimated to reach roughly 11 percent of the online US population. Moreover, 60 percent of smartphone users report that they are on Snapchat and the application gets more video views than Facebook does. 

It’s true that not every business stands to value from integrating Snapchat into its social media strategy. But if you’re targeting young people, including demographics like high school students, college students, and twenty-somethings, you may want to consider plunging into the Snapchat game. In fact, 7 out of 10 Snapchat users are Millenials, and 60 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. Even more impressive, between Americans the ages of 12 and 24, Snapchat is the second most popular social media platform, with 26 percent of the group saying they use the messaging application the most. If your target audience is on Snapchat, it is without a doubt an excellent marketing opportunity to tap into.

If you’re considering integrating Snapchat into your social media marketing strategy, you may be wondering how to put together a strategy or how to maximize the strategy’s impact. For a bit of inspiration, let’s take a look at how businesses out there are using Snapchat.

Everlane uses Snapchat to give customers a backstage pass to its business. Online retailer Everlane is all about radical transparency, and it leverages Snapchat in order to achieve this. Essentially, Snapchat provides a window into the brand’s e-commerce business, events, and culture, from giving tours of their office spaces to interviewing customers on the streets and stores to previewing new products. For example, on “Transparency Tuesdays,” the brand will commonly use Snapchat to take its followers on a walk through one of its factories.

"We’re here to make a bold claim. Snapchat is going to become the de facto social channel for Everlane. Over the past month, we’ve been testing it in small batches and we’re in love. Facebook is a spot for updating our community and having one on one conversations," the company wrote in a Facebook post back in November of 2014, when it first decided to make Snapchat a marketing priority. “Snapchat is completely different. Snapchat gives us the chance to explore transparency in a completely new way. No fancy cameras. No editing. Just raw, live footage. It’s beautiful, and it’s the platform for the modern generation.”

GrubHub uses Snapchat to interact with its customers. Online and mobile food-ordering company GrubHub was actually one of the first brands to join Snapchat, opening up an account back in August of 2013. The brand’s explicit objective was to reach out to younger customers that were moving away from more traditional social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram. It specifically focused on growing its user base and driving engagement through one-to-one interaction.

The brand commonly sends out Snapchat messages that require some kind of response or action on behalf of the follower. For example, they commonly send out coupons and promotional codes that can be redeemed for discounts or use content to encourage users to participate in contests and giveaways in order to win some kind of reward. Believe it or not, GrubHub actually responds to virtually every single message sent to them by users, 365 days a year, 7 days a week. That commitment earned them the highest Snapchat score of any brand on the platform back in 2014. Now that’s dedication.

General Electric uses Snapchat to show off its personality. Multinational conglomerate General Electric uses Snapchat to engage with its followers by posting innovative content that highlights its interest in science and encourages followers to take an interest of their own. For example, they use the platform to publish a kind of Q&A series, in which they break down complex scientific concepts in a concise and amusing way.

Aer Lingus uses Snapchat to tell compelling stories. Irish airline Aer Lingus was one of the first airlines to make a move on Snapchat. The company is known for adeptly using the platform as a promotion channel, telling compelling stories using live content from events like inaugural flights. For example, back in 2011, the airline used the platform to celebrate the launch of its long-haul Dublin-to-San Francisco flight to drum up attention and interest.

“Our favorite way to use Snapchat is in a live setting—building a story as events are unfolding. This can be on board a special flight, like an inaugural [flight], or providing behind-the-scenes access to the flight deck.” Paul Buckley, head of social media for Aer Lingus, explained. “The ability to build a story brings the user with us on a journey that has a start, middle, and end."

Red Bull uses Snapchat to capitalize on its influencer network. You probably already know that leveraging the power of influencers in social marketing is an excellent way to enhance your visibility and improve your engagement rates. Well, when it comes to Snapchat this is especially true, and Red Bull is a prime example.

Back in 2015, the brand gave the Canadian snowboarder and X Games champion Mark McMorris total control of its account to give followers a first-hand peek into his extreme sports lifestyle. His elaborate Snapchat journey began with a surf session in San Diego and ended with him snowboarding down Big Bear Mountain later in the afternoon. Involving such a prominent influencer in its strategy helped the brand to attract its users’ attention and keep them interested in more content it might have to offer.

What You Need to Know: Leveraging Snapchat to Benefit Your Business

The bottom line is that a well-thought-out Snapchat strategy can have a significant impact, particularly if your business is geared towards younger demographics. However, avoid just randomly posting. You really want to have a well-thought-out strategy that will really help you to get in touch with your target audience. “Randomly posting could be fun but can get fairly unorganized. Build strategy and goals and follow through,” Kyle Mani explains in Forbes. “Make sure each post has a purpose and gets you closer to your campaign goals.”

Setting metrics and measuring your progress can help you to stay on track and ensure your strategy is actually having an impact. And of course, you want to make sure you are adhering to at least a semi-regular posting schedule, especially as you just start to build up a presence. Don’t flood your followers with content over the course of a few hours, only to disappear for weeks on end.

And of course, last but not least, always make sure that you’re authentic. Whether you’re showing off your love of science and technology like General Electric or giving users a glimpse into the exciting life of an extreme sportsman like Red Bull will largely depend on your brand and its personality. The key is to make sure you understand what will resonate with your audience, give a true sense of your brand, and execute it well.

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