Over the past year or so a lot of brands have hopped on the Snapchat bandwagon. This is no surprise since 57% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 24 are using the network.
This statistic alone puts Snapchat alongside the top social networks being used by millennials, behind only Facebook and Instagram. Snapchat, unlike these other networks, has an unusual format which can be intimidating to many brands, but taking the risk on may be worth the effort in the long run.
A Brief Introduction to Snapchat
The first thing you need to know about Snapchat is that it’s unlike any other social network. The defining feature of Snapchat is the time limit put on shared content. Tweets and Facebook posts are archived making them accessible at any point in the future, a Snap, on the other hand, is set to expire. When you send a Snap to a ‘friend,’ it will self-destruct once your friend has viewed it. The way most brands are using Snapchat is through the Snapchat Story feature.
Snapchat Stories lets you combine a group of Snaps together, creating a longer piece of content. The advantage of using the Story feature, beyond the more extended content set, is the fact that followers can view Stories as many times as they want for 24 hours. After the 24 hour viewing period, though, the story will be gone.
People have a tendency only to present their best image on social media sites; this holds true for both brands and individuals. From the start, Snapchat has made a point break that tendency. For social marketers, that will mean humanizing your brand in ways you may not have tried on other networks. No one on Snapchat wants to see Snaps of overly stylized product photos or stock photo-style team pictures. This audience knows when they are being “sold to” do not underestimate how aware they are. Users want to be entertained with unique and original content.
When you look at what some of the most popular brands on Snapchat are posting, you’ll see that the posts have nothing to do the company itself. These companies are popular because they understand the specific culture of Snapchat. If you want to be successful on Snapchat, you MUST avoid thinking about what your business will get out of each Snap. If you are are going to give Snapchat a chance you need to be genuine and entertaining.
Potential Snapchat Marketing Opportunities:
- Offer Exclusive Discounts & Coupons
- Build Anticipation
- Tell Stories
- Snapchat Ads
Can Snapchat Work for B2B Marketing?
Now that you have a sense of how Snapchat is unique in the world of social media let’s look at how B2B companies can use this uniqueness to their advantage.
General Electric Case Study
General Electric debuted on SnapChat in July of 2015 with an introduction to astronaut Buzz Aldrin for its younger fans, celebrating GE’s contribution to the 1969 moon landing. They have regularly posted content on GE's line of machines intermixed with fun facts and brainteaser-style puzzles.
Sam Olstein, GE's Global Director of Innovation, has said the company is excited by the potential of the platform, "The disappearing nature of its content encourages repeat usage and provides us with a unique way to celebrate invention with an expanding community of young fans."
The GE example shows that Snapchat is an ideal place to cultivate brand awareness with its young user-base. Since 18-24-year-olds are not the typical target audience of most B2B brands Snapchat users are most likely not your current consumers, but they may be your future customers. So if you are looking to play a long game, this may be the network for you.
Wait it Out
Snapchat is a fairly new social network with a young audience, as the network matures and becomes mainstream the user-base will naturally and gradually develop. Just as YouTube has evolved over the years from pure user-created entertainment to a mix of educational content, vlogger style content and big brand content, Snapchat will naturally become something more than what it is today.
There is tremendous potential for this network to evolve into something more appropriate for B2B companies. B2B companies who invest in creating stories and producing quality content will be primed to take advantage of this network once it has matured a little. Keep a close on it, though, if you wait too long to get in the game the noise level will be too high to make an impact.
Getting Your Brand Started on Snapchat
Before you take the plunge and spend a lot of time and effort into creating a brand presence on Snapchat, there are a few things you need to take into account. Do not jump into the deep end of the Snapchat pool before learning to swim!
Step 1. Do some market research
Are other companies in your industry on Snapchat? If they are, what are they doing? Get a sense of what others are doing before you set up your strategy.
Step 2. Ask yourself what success looks like
The main question to ask is why are you on Snapchat. Is your goal brand awareness, lead generation, or something else? What metrics will you be using to track this goal?
Step 3. Be prepared for frequent posting
This network is not for companies who are light on content. Users like to get notifications often, so you need to be ready in advance with appropriate content scheduled to post every couple of days.
Step 4. Promote your Snapchat on other networks
If you have been using Twitter lately (and you should be), then I’m sure you’ve noticed a rising number of Snapchat style profile photos. This is one way companies are promoting their presence on the new network. You can also post specific updates letting followers know to follow you there as well. Be creative with these and let people know they will get a different experience on Snapchat.
Step 5. Be willing to experiment
Since Snapchat is still in it’s early days, there is no tried and true way to use it. Test things out and measure the results. Look at other users and other companies for inspiration. Poll the younger employees in your organization and see who’s using Snapchat already and what they look for when following a brand or company.
Snapchat will not be the right social network or a good investment for many B2B businesses. Every business appeals to a unique demographic, has a unique brand personality, and may not have the budget to include more experiential marketing strategies.
If your brand has a cutting-edge personality or appeals to a younger audience and you’ve already taken the time to establish a strong presence on other platforms, then Snapchat could be your next logical step.