Editor’s Note: As we are building our SkiftEDU service for marketers and SMBs in travel, we recently launched a new initiative: our new weekly series on digital marketing tips and tricks, SkiftEDU How-Tos. These How-Tos are a series of free in-depth weekly articles around various topics in digital marketing, such as this one below

Have you ever considered using Snapchat to promote your destination, hotel, restaurant or event? With 150 million daily active users, Snapchat now has more daily active users than Twitter. Over 10 billion videos are viewed each day – that’s as much as Facebook or YouTube, even though both have much bigger user bases – making Snapchat a hugely popular social media network. Particularly with young people, seeing impressive growth in users between 18 and 34 years old (41% of users in the United States). As a result, Snapchat represents a tremendous opportunity to market to Millennials.

While Snapchat is still mainly a “Millennial thing”, the number of older users is growing. In fact, eMarketer projects that 44% of Snapchat’s users will be aged 40 or older by 2020. And advertisers are taking notice!

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The fun and instantaneous aspect of Snapchat makes it more of a game than a promotional tool. However, you’ll soon find out that when used properly, you can develop an enviable community of users that can become loyal to your brand.

1. Understanding and mastering Snapchat

The new ephemeral culture

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Understanding Snapchat is not always easy, but once you test it out a few times, you’ll quickly notice that this social media network fosters instant and ephemeral content. Contrary to other social media networks and interactive applications that have risen in popularity over the past few years, Snapchat incites users to create content and message, and share ephemeral images. In fact, content shared on private Snapchats self-destruct after it has been viewed. Public messages disappear after 24 hours. Users’ curiosity and fear of missing out (FOMO) is what drives them to Snapchat each and every day.

Thus, Snapchat is for very short-term or near-term announcements, usually to promote something occurring in real-time or within 24 hours of a “Snap” story. People like the fast-paced nature of Snapchat and the instantaneous flow of information and communication. They don’t want to know about something that they can’t benefit from right then and there.

How Snapchat works

HOW does SNAPCHAT WORK?

  1. Once you open the Snapchat app, the welcome screen is not your newsfeed like other social media networks. Instead, it is a screen that allows you to quickly create visual content (pictures or videos). These short pictures of videos are commonly known as Snaps.
  2. You can use a Lense to make an image more playful and fun by adding special effects while you take your picture or film your video.
  3. Next, you can add a Filter to your image to change its colour or to add other visual elements. You can even add text or draw on your Snap.
  4. You must also choose how long your content can be visible, for a maximum of 10 seconds.
  5. Your Snap will only be shared with people you choose (Private mode) and/or your Story (Public mode).
  6. Your Snap will only be displayed for the time you chose and can only be replayed once, unless you posted it as a Story.
  7. Users can also chat privately using texts, stickers and emojis. They can save their Snaps in the Memories section, view the Stories of their friends and discover new content in the Discover section.

2. Posting content on your Story

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Brands are very interested in Snapchat because of its Story feature. Although many users send private Snaps, a large number of brands, celebrities and public figures use Stories to share content with their fans and clients.

A Story is a combination of several Snaps shared with all your friends, a specific list of contacts, or with all users—without having to choose the recipients one by one. A company can share its Story with everyone who added it to their Snapchat account. Each Snap shared on your Story lasts for a maximum of 24 hours. After this time, it will disappear automatically. All Snaps added to your Story will be featured in the Stories section of your followers. They will be able to view your content in chronological order as a successive video capturing moments throughout the day.

Because the content is removed from Snapchat after only 24 hours, it is important to create a sense of exclusivity and intrigue. Users must feel as though they are missing out of something big if they don’t view your Story. They should feel as though they have had the privilege of seeing your unique content.

3. Creating a successful Story

Currently, there is no difference between a personal or professional account in Snapchat. The only way to organically differentiate a business from other users is through the quality of your Snaps.

In order to reach the most users as possible, it is important to diversify the types of content based on your objective. This will help you to better define the type of content that will attract your followers’ attention; you’ll be able to find out who viewed your Snap, who took a screen capture of it, and how many views it generated. What’s more, think about how you can create content that can only be viewed on Snapchat: it’s a great way to encourage your clients to follow you.

Here are some type of interesting content you can produce and share on your Story.

  • You can share promo codes for your establishment or venue, or offer coupons for your services. Users can grab a screen capture of your Snap, print it, use it online or present it in-store.

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  • Because your Snap will only last 24 hours, you can post last-minute offers that are only valid for a short period of time.
  • Use a Snap to make a short-term announcement of a contest. No need to invest in creating a professional video for this.

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  • Feature exclusive backstage images during an event.
  • Share sneak peeks of something new to your followers—before it’s known to the general public.
  • Launch a new product or service as a scoop to your Snapchat followers.
  • Share the atmosphere or special moment of an event so that your followers can relive/experience the moment.

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  • Feature the ambiance, décor or environment of your business/establishment/venue. Make sure you’re authentic and laid back with your followers.

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  • Share your company’s day-to-day with your followers; be transparent and give a human touch to your business.
  • Present your team and create a relationship between your company and followers.
  • Share tips and tricks; show that you are an expert in your field/region.
  • Create partnerships with key influencers; they will be able to use your Snapchat account and create content that presents your company, products or services.

Again, curiosity and the fear of missing out on something interesting are two important factors that incite people to regularly use Snapchat. Use your Story to share meaningful, surprising, interesting, authentic and funny moments that will amaze your followers. Create close ties with your followers—they will surely check out your Stories on a regular basis.

4. Increase the visibility of your brand with advertising options

Snap Ads

Just recently, Snapchat launched a new advertising solution, called Snap Ads. These ads are short, ten-second videos that appear among users’ Snaps in their Stories sections. They are somewhat like pre-roll ads found on YouTube. To access a video, an ad is run with a call-to-action driving users to additional information, such as a longer video, article or another ad to install an app, for example. For now, Snapchat will only show users three ads a day. At most, a user will see one ad in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

Snapchat Sponsored Lenses

You can also purchase Sponsored Lenses to promote your company’s culture or a specific event. Note that a Sponsored Lens can cost a US company over $450 000 for one day. In this example, Gatorade let followers use a lens that simulated the ritual of sports teams’ Gatorade showers at the end of a match. This lens was viewed more than 165 million times on Snapchat! Although this is an excellent means to promote your company, it is nevertheless very expensive.

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Snapchat Geofilters

A more affordable option to promote your company and interact with your Snapchat community is to use Geofilters. A Geofilter is an image that can be placed on top of a Snap created by a user. These filters are only available if users are situation in a geo-targeted location and for a short amount of time.

Snapchat allows you to buy custom filters for as little as $5. However, the price depends on the filter’s duration, city and location perimeter. This means that a filter can cost several thousands of dollars. There are two types of Geofilters: personal and business.

Personal GEOFILTERS

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Personal Geofilters can be used for, let’s say, birthdays, family events or weddings. Snapchat even has a tool that can be used online to create filters. These filters do not display any logos or company names; they do not promote a company or brand.

Business GEOFILTERS

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If you want to promote your company, product or services, you should opt for Geofilters for business. These Geofilters must include the name of your company. You can feature your logo or trademarks. Your filter is valid for up to 30 days and must cover a location of between 20 000 and 5 000 000 square feet.

Furthermore, you cannot use pictures of people, telephone numbers, emails, website addresses, hashtags, social media handles or personal information. Snapchat reserves the right to refuse your filter if it does not respect its approval criteria. You can order your very own Geofilter here.

Snapchat is currently developing more and more creative solutions to increase interaction and content sharing within its app. It is definitely a platform to leverage and reach a clientele that is more social, connected and dynamic!