Snapchat Grows Up

"It's never been about just sharing a moving image. It's giving people an easy way to tell a story." - Casey Neistat on Snapchat

"It's never been about just sharing a moving image. It's giving people an easy way to tell a story." - Casey Neistat on Snapchat

Snapchat has moved into the big leagues, far beyond my personal addiction to sharing dog antics and food snaps complete with emojis, voice changes and increasingly ridiculous filters. I've used and loved Snapchat for ages, even dubbing it the only means of communication between me and my brothers, but from a professional perspective, Snapchat offers a unique challenge.   

Many brands are still unsure about the potential Snapchat offers but the stats are hard to ignore. Snapchat sees more daily photos shared than Facebook and is ranked as the most popular social media platform among young adults and teenagers in the US. Watching its popularity amongst millennials that have deleted their Facebook and Twitter accounts is proof enough that if brands are looking to reach a younger audience, they need to be on Snapchat. 

While Snapchat is embracing its grown up social media status, rolling out more tools aimed at businesses and larger brands, how to use Snapchat effectively is something that many brands still struggle with. Snapchat encourages real-time, raw, unedited for-the-most-part content, which can take some convincing for more formal, conservative brands looking to reach a younger audience. In Snapchat's own words, it's "personal, unguarded and in the moment." And that can be scary.   

Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.
— Winston Churchill

As with anything on social media though (and arguably, life...) planning, goal setting and strategy is still critical. While Snapchat is raw, unedited and real time, this doesn't mean planning is any less essential. Consistent, great content that makes your audiences' lives better is what will keep them coming back for more, helping move them from simply aware, to interested, engaged fans that will take any action you ask them to.

Tips and Tricks for Snapchat Stardom

Working to introduce a larger, more traditional and conservative organization onto Snapchat recently has made me appreciate Snapchat even more. Creating a plan that is in line with organizational objectives and realistic with internal organizational concerns has been tricky, but in that development process, these are some of my favourite tips, tricks and resources to make Snapchat stardom a reality. 

1. Find your personality. 

Content on Snapchat is very different from other platforms and can be tough to use to the full extent when you're holding back. More importantly, when it's clear to your audience that you're holding back. 

Everlane is a leader on Snapchat. Their content nails it every time, able to drive serious traffic to their e-commerce site. For them, Snapchat is such a valuable channel, they've described it as the "de facto social channel for Everlane." While Everlane embraces the raw, unedited side of Snapchat since their motto is "radical transparency", more importantly, they're able to closely mirror their aesthetic and values, even when more formally addressing customer questions in their Transparency Tuesday stories. 

The point is formal doesn't mean you can't connect with your audience. In fact, embrace it. Creating and sharing content that captures why your brand is (insert business objective here) is key to inbound marketing success. The same goes for Snapchat. Do this by embracing your values, even if they happen to be more formal, conservative and completely disinterested in puppy filters. Develop content ideas that showcase your brand but don't take you too far out of your comfort zone. You want to show who and what you are, not what you think your audience wants to see...     

2. Consistent storytelling is key.

Create a beginning, middle and an end, keeping in mind that context is everything. It's great to share moments from events, but give context first. Add a few snaps in the beginning to share who, what, why and where... bring your audience into the story. And then end it, hopefully with some call to action on how to get involved, or stay in touch, or find out more info. 

Consistent storytelling also applies to posting regularly and developing content that ties into larger themes. While you don't have to share something everyday, develop a consistent schedule to keep your stories top of your friends' recent updates and ultimately, top of mind. Gary Vaynerchuk estimates that 90% of Snapchat content is opened, which is phenomenal! Take advantage of that and share as much as possible. 

Augment your storytelling by using some of the more addictive features of Snapchat. Even if puppy filters aren't your style, create your own On Demand Geofilter for upcoming events, turning offline event attendance into online digital engagement. Snapchat provides the templates, customize them with your own creative and submit to Snapchat for approval. 

3. Use every trick available to you...

Snapchat's personal, in the moment content that ultimately disappears is what makes 90% of friends open stories. But this is exactly what makes things a little more involved when managing a channel for business. Spend some time in the app, playing around and getting comfortable with it. There are a couple tricks to make things easier.  

So, you've created content but aren't ready to share it yet? Keeping your brand name high in the list of recent updates means sharing at strategic times. If this is the case, turn your phone into airplane mode until you're ready to share. Your stories will queue up as normal, with a little notification from Snapchat that they couldn't be shared at this time. The option to try sharing again is right there for when you are ready. Just disable airplane mode and try sharing again. Voila, content from earlier that is shared at a better time.  

Another sweet trick is to use the new Memories feature. Record your snaps and then save them into Memories rather than sharing them. When you're ready, you can string your snaps together in new sequences, and share as a story when needed. If you do this within a day of taking the snap, the snaps are shared as normal. Anything older than a day appears with a frame around it. It's a great way to share and repurpose content you've created for Snapchat before, especially on Thursdays... #tbt anyone? 

Snapchat's evolution even in the last 6 months has been staggering. Personally, it's my favourite social media platform at the moment. Professionally, it's offered a bit more of a challenge but that's down to what makes it so great, and the potential rewards for brands and organizations just can't be ignored anymore.   

What are your thoughts on Snapchat? Scary? Addictive? The greatest thing since sliced bread?