Cracking the (Snap)Code

When you think of social media and business, what are the first platforms that come to mind? Likely, your first thoughts are of Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram. These are all good answers, and they are not wrong, but they do exclude the crucial fourth platform of the “Social Media Big 4”: Snapchat. Snapchat tends to be thought of as a messaging app with pictures, but this isn’t an accurate characterization.

When Snapchat’s app is first opened, it doesn’t present you with a messages/chat screen, rather it presents a camera. Snapchat is, above all else, a social camera. You can take pictures or videos and send them to people, but you can also upload them to your “Story”. Snapchat’s “Story” feature allows users to share photos with their followers (users can even select which followers can see the story, or leave it at the default setting so that everyone can view it).

This feature is crucial because it gives Snapchat value as a business tool. The problem is that many businesses have been told repeatedly that “Instagram is the way to go, it’s the most personal,” or “Facebook is really the only profile you need.” By the time Snapchat gained mainstream appeal, most businesses had already selected their platforms of choice. In order to persuade most businesses to add (or switch to) Snapchat for their outreach efforts, they will need to hear a pretty convincing argument.

Let’s start with the numbers, Snapchat had 173 million active daily users at last count(The active user designation helps differentiate between people who actually use Snapchat and those who have it installed, but never/rarely open it.) This is a rather large audience, which is good for marketing and outreach efforts, but businesses should consider their target demographics before making the jump. A majority (37%) of Snapchat’s user base is between 18–24 years old. The second highest group (26%) is between 25–34 (In total, around 63% of Snapchat users are between 18–34). If your target audience is generally 55+ years old, Snapchat might not be for your brand (only around 2% of Snapchat users are over the age of 55). However, if 18–34 is your target audience, Snapchat is a great option.

You might still be asking, “How is Snapchat better than the other platforms for my business?” Great question, and the answer is that Snapchat has been proven to more effectively hold the attention of consumers. A study by MediaScience Labs found that ad campaigns on Snapchat held the attention of users at 1.5x the rate of Instagram, and double that of Facebook. By using Snapchat, you have a significantly better cost-reward ratio.

Beyond running ads on Snapchat, businesses can provide a “behind the scenes view” to their followers. It might sound mundane, but many users appreciate the intimacy of seeing the daily operations of a business (make it fun/energetic, of course.) If you have interns, have them run the Snapchat. They can walk into offices and ask questions, conduct Snapchat interviews with your employees, and show off your latest products. The human element of Snapchat creates a sense of personality and intimacy that other platforms can’t match.

If you have a brick and mortar establishment, you can print out your “Snapcode” and put it in a window or another visible place. Each user has a Snapcode that other users can take pictures of. Taking a picture of a Snapcode lets people add other users/businesses without having to type in the exact username. This is very helpful for boosting your follower count, as it reduces some of the work for the users. If you have a website, you can put the code there as well.

Snapchat might not be for everyone, and it certainly won’t be ideal for every single business, but if your demographic matches that of Snapchat, and if you are looking for a more personal platform for your marketing efforts, Snapchat can’t be beat.