How Brand Communicators Are Using Snapchat


brylee-kaye-featuredBy Brylee Kaye, Social Media Strategist, New York Institute of Technology

Snapchat and Marketing

Since its inception in 2011, Snapchat has managed to defy detractors who declared it yet another photo, video and messaging platform that parents and public school administrators should be concerned about. Marketers are now recognizing the influence that Snapchat has on a particularly important demographic.

Yet what makes Snapchat so enticing to core users and so vexing to marketers is its signature feature: posted content has an extremely short life expectancy. Private snaps persist for a maximum of 10 seconds, or 24 hours when posted to a user’s public My Story (similar to a newsfeed).

Why Snapchat matters

Snapchat has become a major player in the social media ecosystem, in large part to its sustained appeal among younger users, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by investors.  Snapchat raised another $1.8 billion in May 2016, bringing its valuation to $20 Billion. (source: TechCrunch)

So why is a company that only reported $59 Million in revenue in 2015 valued so highly? Snapchat boasts more than 100 million daily active users, and found that 60% of Americans between 13-38 fall into this estimate. For marketers looking to reach millennials, it’s the hottest property in town.

How do I work this thing?

Snapchat is a dream come true for creative marketers talented at capturing the element of spontaneity. Snapchat users’ interests are in the rawness of the moment. Marketers must recognize this and abandon industry-speak for an authentic tone of voice. If you’re agonizing over the perfect snap, you’re doing it wrong.

Despite Snapchat’s raw and candid nature, it’s important to plan your content.

Tell your story using Snapchat’s My Story feature, which allows brands to tell longer narratives by stringing together multiple snaps. Use this feature to show the playful and quirky side of your culture, products, people and customers.

Account takeovers are another great strategy to showcase culture in an authentic manner. NYIT has the advantage of access to a millennial student population that is more than eager to take the reins of a college’s Snapchat account for a day. One particularly fun takeover included an insider’s tour of NYIT’s Manhattan Campus hosted and narrated by Student Ambassadors:

As with all things in marketing, exclusivity rules. Providing content audiences can’t get elsewhere helps to attract followers. Some brands provide exclusive monetary incentives such as coupon codes to customers that snap photos using their products.

If YouTube normalized the “How-To” video, Snapchat has revolutionized it. Brands have used the “tap” feature to lead audiences through the step-by-step process as a story. This also works well to increase drama for product demos or big reveals.

Partnering with industry influencers can be a boost of adrenaline for brands. Influencers can help spread awareness among an often hard-to-reach demographic and can also enhance your brand by pure association alone.

Sell, sell, sell!

Snaps definitely need an audience to matter. Followers are crucial for successful engagement with your brand, so actively promote your account on other social media platforms, blogs, forums, and email lists.

Remember to customize your Snapcode, a unique, shareable and scannable image that makes adding people fast and easy. At NYIT, we’ve created a branded Snapcode that pays homage to the pride that we feel for our geek culture:

Despite its many strengths, Snapchat’s ability to measure engagement is limited. However, some key metrics can help you determine who’s listening.

Tracking follower growth can demonstrate whether your content is resonating with your audience. Stagnant growth may indicate that you’re not promoting the account enough, or that followers are not interested enough to talk about the content.

Another significant metric is the retention rate on your Stories. If your audience consistently drops off after 30 seconds, you may need shorter stories. If the timing of the drop-offs is inconsistent, perhaps reevaluate the characterization of the content itself.

The quality and consistency of audience engagement are also important. Are users actively participating with your content, taking advantage of your promotions, or following your calls to action?

The takeaway

Building brand interest and loyalty among audiences is a constantly evolving process. Snapchat is a perfect case study of how a platform’s unique characteristics can encourage brands to be more authentic in marketing to audiences.

About the Author: Brylee Kaye is the social media strategist and an adjunct professor of communications arts at New York Institute of Technology. She has more than 13 years of marketing and communications experience implementing social and digital media plans in order to to build brand awareness, familiarity, consideration and preference, engage stakeholders, and help institutions distinguish themselves from their competitors. 




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