John Lincoln

Should Brands Be Using Snapchat for Business?

Snapchat has yet to find its way into many marketer’s social media strategies.

It’s no surprise, really. It’s a risky channel for most brands, and success certainly isn’t guaranteed.

In this article, I’ll make the case for why you should – or shouldn’t – be using Snapchat for your business.

Should Brands be Using Snapchat for Business?

The Case for Snapchat for Business

It’s easy to dismiss Snapchat. And the reality is, many brands should. It’s certainly not for everyone – for example, if you find a lot of success marketing to professionals on sites like LinkedIn, you may want to steer clear of the snaps. Of course, there’s a but here. Because there are some brands who are killing it on Snapchat, and some compelling reasons why it might be worth a try. First, let’s let the numbers do the talking: So if one thing’s clear, it’s that Snapchat has an impressive audience. Another thing? It’s a pretty dedicated one. In marketing speak, that’s a pretty good thing. But beyond the stats, it has a leg up on other social channels in a number of ways.

First of all, Snapchat is completely different than any other channel out there.

While this comes with its difficulties, it also comes with a lot exciting opportunities. Take what General Electric’s done. From the Owen Campaign to the interior of volcanoes, the company (that let’s be honest, no one expected to excel on Snapchat) has used the platform to take its viewers along on its many journeys. And hey, if it doesn’t work, the story will simply disappear. No harm, no foul, right?

On that same train that of thought, it’s an incredibly authentic way to showcase your brand’s story.

Because of its format, Snapchat is extremely well-suited to behind-the-scenes content from brands and its employees. As you know, that’s how some of the best brand stories are told. Those stories are what connects brands to their audience and build a more authentic, personal relationship. And if you can build that kind of relationship with your users, they’re much more likely to convert to customers in the long run.

And of course, there’s less competition.

Standing out on social media is no easy task. Most brands have a well-rounded social media strategy that includes all the big guns like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Far less have extended that strategy to Snapchat, which means brands that do make the jump have a much greater opportunity to stand out.

Last but not least, Snapchat’s making some changes.

Over the last few months, Snapchat’s been upping its game to compete with the bigger social media channels. Some of the new features include three new ad tools. One lets you filter by location by category, so you can target your audience based on the type of place they currently are. For example, a restaurant, a movie, etc. Another new tool allows radius targeting to better target by location. The last new tools provides info about the age, gender, and interests of Snapchat users who visit your store. Snapchat also introduced Context Cards late last year, which “provide a way to take simple actions like calling for a ride with Uber or Lyft or reserving a table through OpenTable, Resy or Bookatable.” The takeaway is that Snapchat is only making it easier for brands to target and connect with an audience. It has a vested interest in attracting more advertising dollars, and with more options available, more brands are likely to jump on board. So yes, there is a compelling case why Snapchat should be used for business. But let’s play Devil’s Advocate for a minute.

The Case Against Snapchat For Business

While there’s a lot of opportunities to be had on Snapchat, there are cases where it simply isn’t worth the effort. One of the biggest concerns regarding Snapchat?

It simply falls behind the competition.

In what should have been a win for Snapchat, it’s largely popular Snapchat Stories soon lost out to Instagram. A study by Delmondo found roughly a 40 percent drop in unique viewers after measuring 21,500 Snapchat Stories starting in July 2016 (just before Instagram stories came out) through November 2016.
Snapchat for Business
Snapchat for Business

Another thing? Its audience may be fleeting.

The vast majority of Snapchat’s users are in the 18-34 year old demographic (no surprise there). While in itself not a bad thing, this particular demographic has the potential to be less loyal to brands and more likely to follow what’s on trend. Which means that should a new, cool social platform pop up, its users may jump ship. For brands, that means a Snapchat-heavy strategy could fall on deaf ears.

Snapchat also sees a much smaller audience overall.

Again, this one could go either way. A smaller audience means fewer brands, and therefore less competition. But it also means, well..a smaller audience, and less overall reach for brands. Some brands simply can’t justify investing in a platform that doesn’t have the numbers. It would also be remiss not to mention influencer marketing. It’s a big deal in marketing strategies on photo platforms like Instagram, where it’s proven to be an excellent way for brands to gain exposure. On Snapchat, however, influencers are far less prevalent.

And sadly, it just can’t stand up to Instagram.

Instagram Stories users have more users than Snapchat does as a whole. It has more influencers, and it has the support of Facebook and all its advanced features to back it up. With that comes more access to advertising options, targeting options, and analytics. Because the two platforms are so often compared (and let’s face it, so similar in many ways), it’s not hard to see why many marketers favor Instagram over Snapchat.
Snapchat for Business: Instagram vs. Snapchat
Snapchat for Business: Instagram vs. Snapchat

So, Should Your Brand Be Using Snapchat for Business?

To determine that, you first have to look to your target audience. Here’s what we know about Snapchat: To say it simply: if your audience is made up of Millennials, it’s likely on Snapchat. If your audience is middle-aged men, likely not. Now those are obviously two extremes, and to really determine if your targets are using the platform, you’ll need to evaluate your audience’s overall behavior and what you know about platforms they already use. For example, if your audience is avid Facebook and Instagram users, they may very well use Snapchat. But they spend the majority of their time on LinkedIn, they may not be as interested in your Snap story. Another aspect to evaluate is how much you can invest in storytelling. Snapchat takes more than ad copy, and you can’t create engagement through likes and comments. Instead, you have to be able to tell a compelling story that creates engagement all on its own. These stories need to be relatable, unique, fun and create some kind of emotional involvement. A boring story won’t survive on Snapchat. So before deciding if it’s worth a go, really take the time to evaluate whether you have the time and manpower required to deliver. To recap, definitely use Snapchat if:
  • Your audience is there – run surveys, etc. to find out if your target audience is really using Snapchat
  • You can tell a compelling brand story – almost any brand can find a way to spin an engaging story, but be honest here. If you don’t have the time or manpower to invest in delivering a great story, Snapchat may not be the channel for you
If you do decide that Snapchat’s a good fit for your brand, keep the following in mind:
  • Use high-quality video – your photos and videos should look professional and high-quality; if they’re not, your audience will have a hard time engaging
  • Market your Snapchat on other channels – include social buttons to your account on your website, blogs, and emails, and send people to your Snapchat account via Facebook, Twitter, etc. (include links, your Snapchat code, invite them to participate in contests on Snapchat, etc.)
  • Post often – Snapchat posts disappear quick, and if you’re not continuously posting, it’s likely your audience will never see them. Make sure you have a content schedule created and tools set up to keep you on track
  • Engage with your audience – while storytelling is a crucial part of a Snapchat strategy, make sure you’re including posts designed to engage with your audience. Run contests on the platform, ask questions and prompt users to respond with a Snap, and of course, respond in kind when asked

Is Snapchat For Business Right For You? In the End, it’s Your Call

The thing with Snapchat (and most social media channels), is that it generally doesn’t hurt to try. If you think it could be a good avenue for you, there’s no harm in giving it a shot. However, know that it takes a little more effort and a unique strategy to succeed on Snapchat. Beyond that, it caters to a very specific audience – and if it’s not yours, it’s not worth it. But what do you think? Will be giving Snapchat a try?

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John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Ignite Visibility is a 4x  Inc. 5,000 company. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the books “Digital Influencer” and “The Forecaster Method.” Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketers in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. Lincoln has also made “SEO: The Movie” and “Social Media Marketing: The Movie.” His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.

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