Does Snapchat Work for Businesses?

At this point, you’ve probably heard of Snapchat. The mobile app allows users to send videos and photos that will essentially disappear a few seconds after being viewed by the given recipient. The app boasts some incredible usage numbers, including more than 200 million users viewing 8 billion videos per day.

Snapchat and Your Brand

The most impressive part of the application, from a business standpoint, is Snapchat’s ability to reach a brand marketer’s dream demographic, the millennial. The company notes that more than 60% of 18-34 US-based smartphone-using adults are Snapchat users.

While these numbers are undoubtedly impressive, the question raised in this article isn’t necessarily Snapchat’s viability as a platform, but rather whether or not businesses should utilize the app as an extension of their marketing efforts.

Reaching Your Target Market

Developing a marketing strategy with regard to social media platforms and applications is a challenge for many businesses, large or small. Marketing personnel are inundated with an assortment of communications – daily emails, “hot” blog articles, and trending tweets or posts – regarding what the best practices are for advertising with these new mediums.

The reality of marketing in a capacity-strained environment, as is the case for many startups, is that every campaign needs to be laser focused. While new and exciting platforms can be tempting, its best to take a step back and ask yourself, based on my limited capacity, both from a time and financial perspective, where can I get the most return? Typically, you’ll find the answer isn’t venturing to into unknown and untested platforms.

On the digital side as a whole, marketers of small businesses are finding that it’s starting to make less and less sense to expand much further outside the internet’s core advertising platforms. Obviously there are exceptions based on niches (see Pinterest), but rather than bouncing from platform to platform throughout your day, keeping your company’s brand advertising on Facebook, coupled with bottom-of-the-funnel marketing on Google’s Adwords platform, tends to be the best use of a small business marketer’s limited time.

Both Facebook and Google’s ad platforms have several key benefits. First, no other platforms have more detailed information on their users. When opening their ad interfaces, you’ll be quick to recognize how far you can drill your targeting to reach the customers in your market. Next, is customization. Both Facebook and Google allow for endless customization and optimization of your advertising to creatively run the type of campaign that best fits your marketing goals. Finally, and most importantly, is support. Both Google and Facebook offer, not only endless literature on their platform’s best-practices, but also one-on-one customer support to help your business setup and optimize your campaign for success.

So, Why Snapchat?

Overall, Snapchat is without a doubt a powerful platform. In the years to come, and as TV brand advertising dollars move more and more to the online/mobile application space, Facebook is a clear first destination for marketing money, but Snapchat is poised to be close behind. The platform is unique enough from a product standpoint and very attractive from a user engagement model. Plus, as mentioned earlier, Snapchat has a significant presence in the ever-growing millennial market, which has always been a brand advertisers bread and butter – get a person buying your products early and they often become customers for life.

However, you cannot let your business cater its branding message too much to millennials. Snapchat will allow you to reach this demographic, but you should stay on-message in your communications.

How Does Snapchat Work?

So, how do you get started? It’s easy – make an account for your brand and promote it via your other social media/online platforms. In terms of using your account, it’s not overly difficult and you’ll become an expert if you take some time to try out all of the filters and drawing tools – you can adjust pictures or videos thanks to innovative filtering and drawing options that help you alter lighting and content, as well as adding topical themes and location-based branding filters.

But, the point of your Snapchat account should be to do some guerilla-esque marketing and brand promotion via funny/interesting photos and videos. Get different employees involved and have people take turns operating the account – just make sure that everyone understands that everything needs to be appropriate!

Basically, you should be highlighting your products and services with your overall business as a frame of reference. If you have a new product, take some snaps (pictures) and videos of your employees and customers using this item. If you’re a service-based business, document one of your employees performing the service. Remember, you need to make the pictures or videos fun and interesting.

Most importantly, perhaps, you need to realize when Snapchat won’t work for your business. If you’re a retail or service establishment that has a significant market among millennials, or is looking to expand into this demographic, give it a shot! If not, then learn how to use it and maybe keep a basic profile – it can’t hurt to be prepared and have a base knowledge of how to use the platform.

Sean Killian is the marketing lead at Enola Labs, a mobile app development agency headquartered in Austin, Texas. You can follow Enola Labs on Twitter @enolalabs.