This article was originally published on The Hootsuite Blog.
It’s 2019—and Snapchat still has about 188 million active daily users.
But it’s also still dwarfed by Instagram—which has 500 million daily users—and probably always will be.
And that begs the question: why should your business invest in capturing attention and building an audience on Snapchat, the demonstrably less popular platform?
Let me explain.
As of 2018, about 45 percent of Snapchat users are 18 – 24 years old and 71 percent are under 34 years old. That means Snapchat is still extremely popular among Millennials. So if your goal is to engage a younger demographic, Snapchat can be a potent source of engagement.
Also, Snapchat users create 3 billion videos a day, spending an average of 30 minutes on the platform. Those numbers—coupled with Snapchat’s impressive audience targeting capabilities—suggest big opportunities for brands and marketers.
Don’t have a Snapchat for Business account?
Let’s set you up…
How to set up a Snapchat for Business account
If you choose to advertise on Snapchat, you’ll need a business account.
If you don’t have an account, create one here. Then fill in your business details.
Like most actions on Snapchat, creating a business account is simple and intuitive. Once your business is established, you’ll be prompted to create a campaign. Of course, this is optional. As a business, you don’t need to advertise on the platform to garner attention, build an audience, and make an impact.
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7 essential Snapchat marketing tips for business
Yes, allocating spend to your content will improve its reach.
That said, there are other strategies you can use to optimize your marketing on Snapchat. These are time-tested, proven tactics and principles social media marketers can apply to grow virtually any brand.
If you’re new to Snapchat, be sure to read our beginner’s guide. It will help you learn the technical skills necessary to apply these strategies.
But if you already know the fundamentals, stay put. You’re in the right place. These tips will help you make the most of your presence.
1. Identify your audience via Snapchat Insights
As a marketer, your audience is everything. But your audience is not everyone.
Your audience is a group of people who all share the same want. And, maybe, they all share a unique blend of characteristics. For example, your audience may live in a specific location; your audience may speak a specific language; your audience may make a specific income.
The better you understand these characteristics, the better you’ll be at creating good copy and art that captures attention, incites interest, creates desire, and compels action.
You may already know your audience, in which case you’re ahead. But if you’re still working to understand who to target, use Snapchat Insights. This is the platform’s built-in analytics tool, which, among other statistics, can tell you:
Your viewer count over weeks, months, and years
Your viewers’ age, location, gender, and even interests
Your viewers’ attention span (i.e., how many people watched your content until the very end)
In addition to showing your unique views, view times, and completion rates, Snapchat Insights can tell you your content’s fall-off rate and screenshot count.
These statistics can only help you better understand what your audience wants.
2. Set goals
You’re using Snapchat. But are you finding success? Maybe. Maybe not.
You wouldn’t be able to tell if your content investment is worth the resources unless you set clear goals.
Good social media marketers always set goals for themselves. But the best social media marketers set S.M.A.R.T. goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely goals.
Let’s break it down:
— — —
Make it “Specific”
For example, it’s not enough to say, “I want to increase my Snapchat reach.”
Instead, you should say, “I want to increase my Snapchat audience to 4000 followers.”
Make it “Measurable”
For example, it’s not enough to say, “I want to increase engagement on Snapchat.”
Instead, you should say, “I want to drive my screenshot count up by 12% and my fall-off rate down by 5%.”
Make it “Attainable”
For example, you can’t say, “We’ve never done it before, but I still want this type of content to drive 100 new Millennial followers per month.”
Instead, you have to say, “Introducing this type of content added 50 Millennial followers to our account, so if we double down on this content next month, we’ll be on track to add 100 new female followers.”
Make it “Relevant”
For example, if you want to use Snapchat to grow your mailing list, it doesn’t make sense to create objectives around screenshot counts.
Instead, it makes more sense to focus on driving followers to your website, where they can sign up for your newsletter.
The latter is far more relevant and applicable to your business goals.
Make it “Timely”
For example, it’s not enough to say, “we’ll have these changes implemented sometime in Q2.”
Instead, it’s more effective if you say, “we’ll have these changes implemented by May 15.”
— — —
The S.M.A.R.T. goal framework will keep you honest and focused as you create marketing objectives.
3. Conduct a competitive analysis
If you want to know where you’re excelling and where you’re falling short, study your competitors.
That is, conduct a competitive analysis by analyzing the accounts and activities of other brands in your space. Here’s how to do that, step-by-step:
— — —
Step 1: Identify your competition
The best way to identify a competitor is by analyzing your audience.
Who else is your audience following? Do any of those brands resemble your own? Those that do are vying for your prospects’ attention. But not every competing brand is worth analyzing.
Start by creating a long list, then pare it down. Choose three or four strong competitors to benchmark yourself against.
Step 2: Dig in
Now it’s time to research, taking several metrics into consideration, including:
Presence — Are your competitors active on every social network? Or only a couple?
Following — How many people are following your competitors? And how quickly is each following growing?
Cadence — How often do your competitors post?
Engagement — How many likes, retweets, shares, and comments do your competitors’ average?
Now it’s time to analyze this raw data.
Step 3: SWOT
SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Strengths — Analyze to understand what your competitors are doing well on Snapchat? Are their posts timely or interesting or clever? What strategies can you borrow?
Weaknesses — Analyze where your competitors are falling short. Is their cadence slow or inconsistent? Are their posts to self-serving? What can you avoid?
Opportunities — Given your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, where can you differentiate yourself? For example, if there’s no humor in the landscape, can you insert some?
Threats — Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Identify these instances and be prepared for them.
And you don’t need to do all of this manually.
— — —
There are tools you can use to make the process easier, faster, and more effective.
4. Share great content
More specifically, share great Snapchat Stories.
A Story is a video or photo that lives in Snapchat for 24 hours, then disappears.
Adding content to your story is simple:
Step 1. Navigate to your camera view
Step 2. Tap the camera shutter button to take a photo OR tap and hold the shutter to record a video
Step 3. Add elements, including text, stickers, and doodles
Step 4. Tap the blue arrow, then select “My Story”
But creating content—great content—is hard. It’s hard to capture attention, create intrigue, and compel people to keep watching.
The best Snapchat Stories are typical yet surprising. That is, they follow a standard narrative arc: rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. But they’re also unexpected, delivering humor or suspense or educational value. In any case, viewers should walk away from your Story pleasantly surprised, delighted even.
To create this effect, many businesses create “behind-the-scenes” Stories, providing content followers would otherwise never see. You can also ask questions, create polls, and conduct interviews to engage audiences.
Whatever content you choose to create, remember to keep it light and, of course, authentic. Snapchat users appreciate authenticity. It’s the reason many started using the platform in the first place.
Users also appreciate high-quality imagery. Here are several important Snapchat specs to follow:
File size. Maximum 5MB image and 32 MB video.
File format. Image .jpg or .png. Video: .mp4, .mov, and H.264 encoded).
Full screen canvas. 1080 x 1920 px. 9:16 aspect ratio.
5. Build your audience
Snapchat doesn’t have “Suggested User” lists like Instagram, which makes it harder to build an audience.
That’s why it’s important to make your Snapchat account as discoverable as possible.
Here are the top 5 places to promote your Snapchat:
1. Your website
Your Snapchat icon should go in your website’s header, footer, and sidebar. It should also be present on your “Contact” page.
2. Your email signature
Conventional wisdom says that the second most read part of an email—after the subject line—is the signature. That’s because 1) most people will immediately scroll to the bottom of an email to see who wrote it and 2) it visually stands out on the page.
This means your email signature is extremely visible, which makes it the perfect place to display your Snapchat icon.
3. Your newsletter
Again, your Snapchat icon should go in the header or footer of your newsletter. It should be visible and prominent.
4. Your advertisements
This includes digital and print ads. If your goal is to amass as many Snapchat followers as possible, don’t be shy. Display your Snapcode everywhere.
5. Your event booths
If you attend trade shows or conferences, make sure your Snapcode is somewhere accessible, where visitors can see and scan it (e.g., shoulder-height on your booth).
It’s also important to post consistently and at the right time. Snapchat users check-in about 20 times per day, averaging about 30 minutes per day on the platform. Use Snapchat Insights to figure out when your audience is most active, then post regularly at that time.
Need to grow even faster? Consider Snapchat ads.
6. Master the little-known features
There are a lot of Snapchat hacks out there, little tricks and features that can make a big difference if you use them properly and consistently.
Here are the top five hacks you should know about:
1. You can draw in impressive detail by turning on your phone’s zoom feature
Drawing is hard. Drawing on a phone with your finger is even harder. This Snapchat hack will help you consistently color in the lines—and then some…
How to do it on iOS:
Go to Settings
Under the Vision section, enable Zoom
Select Show Controller
Choose your Zoom Region preference (Window or Full Screen)
Set Maximum Zoom Level to 15x
How to do it on Android:
Go to Settings
Tap Magnification Gestures
This will help you draw the way you would with a stylus.
2. You can use characters to frame your snaps
It’s a frame but designers call it a mask…
For example, the “0” creates a nice oval border and the “A” will give you a bold triangular border.
How to do it:
After you’ve taken your Snap, create a one-letter caption with the largest size text (tap the T icon)
Enlarge it so that it creates a border around the picture
Position it until you have the frame you want
3. You can pin an emoji on a moving target
Simple, fun, and engaging.
How to do it:
Record a video that focuses on a moving object
When you’re finished filming, tap the emoji icon at the top of the preview screen and select the one you want
Resize the emoji before you pin it
Tap and hold the emoji to drag it over the moving target (which should be frozen at this point)
Hold it over the object for a moment
Snapchat will reload the video, and the emoji should follow along
This is a great way to capture attention—and keep it.
4. You can edit stuff out of your Snaps with Magic Eraser
Nice! You captured a great shot… except for that one, little thing.
That’s what the Magic Eraser is for.
How to do it:
Capture a Snap
Tap the scissors icon
Tap the multi-star button
Trace the outline of the object you’d like to erase and it will disappear
The tool isn’t perfect, of course. But it works exceptionally well on plain, simple backgrounds with solid colors.
5. You can distort audio with Voice Filter
This is fun. More importantly, it captures attention.
How to do it:
Record a video Snap
Tap the speaker button in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen
Choose the voice filter you’d like to add to your Snap
These are 5 essential hacks. Here are 30 more.
7. Measure results
Use Snapchat analytics to measure your results and, in turn, prove your return on investment (ROI).
Snapchat analytics will help you understand your audience, learn what content performs best, and discover key engagement times. The better you know this information, the easier it’ll be to gain a competitive edge in the market.
Here’s how to access and use Snapchat analytics:
Step 1. Open Snapchat. Tap the icon to open it.
Step 2. Go to your home screen. Tap your bitmoji in the top-left corner.
Step 3. Access Snapchat Insights. Tap “Insights” below “My Story.”
You’ll see a dashboard that looks like this:
Here are the top 5 analytics you should consider:
1. Unique views
This is the total number of people who opened the first video or image on your Snapchat story and viewed it for at least one second.
You can see your unique views per week, month, and year.
2. View time
This is the total number of minutes your viewers watched your Snapchat story.
Similar to Unique Views, you can see your View Time by week, month, or year to gauge the success of your content over that period of time.
Studying this data will help you understand 1) which day of the week is best for you to post on and 2) how long your story should be.
3. Completion rate
This is how many viewers watched the entire story from beginning to end.
You can see this information broken down by day—and you can use it to analyze how well your content is resonating with your audience.
4. Fall-off rate
This will tell you exactly when viewers stopped watching your story.
It’s an incredibly powerful insight that will help you identify content that isn’t working and replace it.
This is a breakdown of the percentage of men and women who watched your story. You’ll also find the age range of your viewers.
You can use this information to understand the age, interests, and locations of your audience, all of which can inform the type of content you share.
Want more neat Snapchat hacks, tricks, and features?
Check out our post on Snapchat hacks, tricks, and features you probably didn’t know about.
8. Try Snapchat ads
If your audience isn’t growing as quickly as you want (or need), Snapchat ads will help you acquire followers at a faster clip.
There are several types of Snapchat ads to choose from:
This is a full-screen, vertical video ad that lasts 10 seconds or less.
You can use it to funnel people to your website, to install an app, or just to watch a branding video.
This is an ad type that lets users modify their images—usually selfies—with your branded filters and logos.
Users do this because it’s fun. And when they share, your brand gets exposure. It’s a win-win.
This is a graphic overlay for Snapchatter to place on their snaps.
Approximately 1 billion Sponsored Snapchat Geo-filters are viewed every day, so the potential for exposure is incredible.
This is the cheapest, easiest, fastest way to get started with Snapchat advertising.
It’s like a Sponsored Geo-filter, but can be used in an ultra-tight area, like a city block. You can create one in a minute—and pay as little as 5 dollars to push it live. It’s an excellent option for small businesses.
Snapchat is a simple, easy-to-use platform.
But there are many nuances to advertising on the platform.
Be sure to master the Snapchat advertising fundamentals before diving in.