When building content for Snapchat

Snapchat trusts you — the brand/marketing managers and content developers — more than the wisdom of the users.

“Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important,” they said in a blog post.

“It’s weird when brands act like your friend, they need to be friendly, but not a buddy,” said Spiegel, the app’s founder.

Snapchat Founder Evan Spiegel

And this is where it becomes challenging. This ‘friendly-but-not-a-buddy’ philosophy contradicts the social media essence for many brands, which follow the principle of ‘talk-like-walk-like-the consumer’.

Without clear guidelines and best practices, it becomes difficult to navigate the Snapchat territory. And that is exactly where I have been lingering for some time now. Following and observing brand accounts on Snapchat, studying their content, exploring the Discover elements and comparing brand content on it. I have realized some of the important things you must consider as a brand manager.

Example of good shareable content on Snapchat by Buzzfeed

It has a different one from the other social networks. Snapchat language is purely visual — images and video. And clever but brief captioning. On Facebook or Instagram, where you would have the luxury of oh-so-many words to explain your image or the story behind it, Snapchat gives you only a few characters overlaying the image (almost like a Twitter for pictures!).That’s why your story has to be embedded in the image itself. Pictures say a thousand words…make doubly sure they do just that on your account.

List all the aspects of the business you can visually document and share. It can be candid shots of the founders/partners along with a fun fact about them, sales or marketing teams, packaging of products, new product teasers, team celebrations, consumers using your product, lifestyle around your product/service — something that reveals a little more about the brand and humanizes it. Also, don’t forget to include the ‘national-(friendship-ice-cream, donut, or family)-day’ on your editorial calendar.


Traditional marketing coaches you to think of a ‘brand personality’ in terms of certain human traits and characteristics (eg: fun-loving, humorous, sophisticated etc). This is useful in deciding the topics and also the words and tone your brand uses while talking to the consumers.

With Snapchat, you now have to also think about how your brand looks, not just in terms of logo. But what shapes, patterns, and colours does it align with, what font does it talk in? Which images resonate with it — graffiti inspired artwork or minimalistic abstract painting?

Include elements that allows users to personalize the image. On Snapchat by iHeart Radio

It’d also be helpful to visually imagine your consumer community, like when planning a television commercial. Think of your consumers not just in terms of demographics or psychographics, but draw up their personalities, peers, preferences (of clothes, hair, make-up, the kind of place they’d hangout). This information will be crucial in clicking those perfect images that will hit a chord and resonate with everyone in your Snapchat community.


Think like a journalist! (I continue to be amused by the overlap between skills of social media managers and journalists!).

The daily story feature lets you build a news-package like narrative using images and short videos that lasts for 24 hours. Not all brand accounts, however, feature a story regularly. And when they do it is mostly an event, or product launch or something conventionally newsy. Don’t wait for an opportunity, create one.

Identify different stakeholders and aspects of your business — soft aspects (work culture, teams, work place events and celebrations) and technical (production snapshot, existing infrastructure, products and its usability). Build stories with different (news) angles and conduct vox-pop, click images, record videos, and smartly caption.

Most important while working with videos — -Asking good questions. Rather than ‘How hot is it in NYC?’ which would fetch you a monosyllabic something like ‘very hot’. A better content generation question is — “how would you describe the weather today?”


This goes for Snapchat as for all social platforms. Know about current news and culture trends. Re-contextualize your image to the pulse of ‘now’. This will increase shareability and relatability of your content.

Screen shot of a text article on Snapchat…by Cosmopolitan

One thing i am still wondering about is the presence of long text articles by brands, especially on Snapchat’s Discover platform. What is it doing in this visual world? So then, I am curious…tell me, do you or anyone you know actually spend time reading articles on Snapchat? What do you think about it?

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