Snapchat for your business: How it works and why you need it!

Snapchat can easily be seen as nothing more than a basic photo-sharing app – you take a picture, put a funny filter over it, send to your friends… and that’s it, right?

Snapchat image.jpg

Wrong. It’s actually a great tool for your business to engage and connect with a younger demographic, in new and innovative ways.

When Snapchat was released in 2011, many people dismissed it as a passing fad. Who wants to take pictures and videos that will disappear after ten seconds? What’s the use?

Fast forward to now, and Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms worldwide. In the US, eMarketer research forecasts that Snapchat’s user base will grow by 27.2% this year – overtaking rivals Pinterest and Twitter for the first time. The statistics speak for themselves – with over 100 million people using Snapchat to view 10 billion videos every day, the platform continues to grow and grow. Businesses are finding new, exciting ways to utilise Snapchat to drive growth and engage followers.

With Snapchat reaching an estimated 41% of all 18-34 year olds in the US, there’s arguably no better platform for reaching the millennial generation.

One of the benefits of Snapchat is just how versatile it is. Whether you’re looking for a basic-level promotion or something a little more technologically advanced; Snapchat has options to suit you:


  • Backstage access. The ability to take pictures and videos and broadcast them is Snapchat’s raison d’etre. What better way to engage your followers than by giving them a look at what happens behind the scenes? Show the day-in, day-out running of the business, alongside fun events like company outings and birthday celebrations


  • Partner with influencers. Find someone popular with your demographic, and let them take over your Snapchat for the day, increasing brand awareness and reach for your business. Candy brand Sour Patch Kids partnered with social media star Paul Logan in a promotional campaign involving pranks. Logan directed his 500,000 followers to the Sour Patch Kids Snapchat to follow his antics – enabling the brand to build brand awareness with a demographic difficult to reach through traditional marketing methods.


  • Sponsored Lenses. One of the fun features of Snapchat is the ability to add a ‘lens’ – a small animation – to your pictures. Businesses have sponsored lenses in the past to promote themselves to potential customers. If you sell Italian food, why not let people turn themselves into one of your pizzas? Gatorade used this to their advantage during the Super Bowl – their filter allowed users to recreate the traditional ‘Gatorade shower’ usually reserved for the coach of the winning team. The ability to be drenched in sports drink from the comfort of their own home was a hit with Snapchatters, with over 165 million views, and success for Gatorade with an eight-point increase in purchase intent.


  • Giveaways. Exclusive discounts, coupons and prizes are great ways to grow and interact with your followers. What’s more, a Sumpto study found that 58% of college students were most likely to purchase a product or service if they were sent a coupon via Snapchat. The New York-based chain 16 Handles asked customers to snap a picture of their frozen yogurt and in exchange, they received a discount coupon for their next purchase. This campaign achieved 1,400 interactions and proved that all different sizes and types of businesses can drive growth through Snapchat, from one-man start-ups, to global household names.


  • Live events & exclusives. With the Snapchat Stories function, businesses can give previews and exclusive sneak-peeks to their followers. This worked well for cosmetic company NARS – they offered an exclusive preview of an upcoming collection to its Snapchat followers, which they publicised through cross-promotion on Twitter and Instagram.


  • Geofilters. When people are in your target location (e.g. inside your restaurant), they’ll have the option to include a custom piece of dynamic art you’ve created to their Snapchat photo. These sponsored geofilters are typically reaching 40% to 60% of daily Snapchatters in the US.


  • SnapAds. These ten-second adverts have proved a popular choice, giving Snapchatters the option of swiping down to find out more about the business. A survey produced by MediaScience in collaboration with Snapchat found that SnapAds garnered twice the visual attention of Facebook advertisements, in addition to 1.5x for Instagram and 1.3x for Youtube.


Sometimes, the best engagement doesn’t come from spending money on Geofilters and ads – it can come from simply using the app’s features to create engaging content. During the Super Bowl 2014, Audi utilised Snapchat in a partnership with The Onion and social media agency Huge, creating a series of humorous Super Bowl-themed snaps. The result? Audi’s Snapchat following increased by more than 5,500.

So, what’s next for Snapchat? With the acquisition of Bitmoji – technology that allows users to create fun cartoon strips featuring them and their friends -, the development of video stickers – emojis in videos that scale and move in proportion to the video itself – along with new reports of 3D technology and experimental smart glasses in the pipeline, it’s clear that Snapchat is not the sort of platform to rest on its laurels.

Snapchat is a constantly-evolving social media platform at the forefront of innovation, constantly adapting to keep up with its millennial demographic. If this is the demographic you need to engage, now is the time to get ahead of the game and familiarise yourself with the ins and outs of the app, and what it can do for you.