The Business Case for Snapchat from a Guy Not Selling a Snapchat Marketing Course

“Focus on the scarce resource: attention. If you try to invent a way to take cheap attention and turn it into cash, you will fail. The attention you want isn’t cheap, it’s difficult to get via SEO and it rarely scales. Instead, figure out how to earn expensive attention.” ~ Seth Godin
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I am not a Snapchat marketing guru. I don’t have a Snapchat marketing course, checklist, eBook or premium webinar to sell you at the end of this post.

I’m a content marketer, (meaning I help brands and businesses grow through content).

To do my work well, I must constantly be on the lookout for ways to help my clients find their audience, tell their story and win the battle for attention online.

As we all should, I approach each social media platform with the disciplined skepticism of someone who's been burned before (damn you Google+).

The business of content marketing is a game of attention.

How much attention can you get?

How fast can you get it?

How relevant is it?

So when I tell you I’m “All in” on Snapchat, it’s not without much consideration.

The opportunity in Snapchat doesn’t lie in the quantity of attention your brand can attract, (though it is sizeable), but rather the depth of attention not possible on peer platforms.

Not sure if Snapchat is for real?

How does 8 billion video views in a day sound? That’s quite a bit of activity seemingly small and relatively obscure social media platform.

Unless of course, Snapchat is NOT seemingly small and relatively obscure.

Snapchat is a Pure Attention Play

We’ve seen the rise and fall of enough social networks to know, in the long game, working for quick, cheap attention is the loser’s game.

Seth Godin recommends we fight for expensive attention.

I’d like to expand Seth’s idea of expensive, to include deep attention.

Deep Attention

You’ve heard a mile wide and an inch deep?

With attention, we want the opposite.

It doesn’t matter how many people see your brand.

What matters is how many people care that they saw your brand.

“But Ryan, what about brand impressions?”

Impressions… haha.

If you sell banner advertising, impressions matter. If you’re looking to spend money, impressions matter.

If you’re looking to build an audience of consumers eager to buy from you, attention, especially deep attention, is the goal.

In the game of attention, there are few social platforms today, which captivates an audience like Snapchat.

What does deep attention look like?

Depending on your goals, what constitutes as deep attention is going to be different for everyone.

Indicators could include:

  • Time on site
  • Pages per visit
  • Thoughtful comments

I’m stay away from social shares as an indicator of attention. There have been multiple studies proving many people will share an article without consuming the content.

However, I do use emailed article shares as an indicator of attention. If someone is willing to email an article to a friend or colleague then they most likely gave the content due consideration.

On Snapchat, I use two indicators of deep attention:

  • Direct Snaps
  • Screencaptures

If I had to rank them, direct Snaps hold more value and in most cases are the objective of my Snapchat stories. But asking for and receiving screen captures shows respect and trust and could be seen as leading indicator of deep attention.

Snapchat isn’t Just Dick Pics and Rainbow Vomit

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There was a time when Snapchat was a less than a savory place for brands to spend their time. The last thing any of us needs is a 14-year-old’s private parts Snapped to our corporate account.

For this (and other reasons) most brands have simply ignored Snapchat, choosing to focus their time on more established channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

The culture of Snapchat is changing.

Citing the juvenile nature of Snapchat’s early days as a reason for ignoring the platform is nothing more than an excuse.

The Wall Street Journal is investing millions of dollars and built an entire team to win on Snapchat. If the Wall Street Journal isn’t worried about dick pics and rainbow vomit, neither should you.

The Secret to Snapchat’s Success

Whether by design or luck, Snapchat has tapped into one of the most powerful (and growing) trends in digital communication: Intimacy.

Snapchat is both an opt-in broadcast medium and a one-to-one conversation tool.

Opt-In Broadcasts

Snapchat Stories allow users to create rolling 24-hour stories available to all their connections. Think of this as a reverse Twitter timeline where the posts disappear after 24-hours.

Instead of being bombarded by one single timeline of content, Snapchat users click into their favorite creators stories one at a time.

There is no gimmick here.

If people find a creator interesting they watch their Snap stories (and thus the opposite is true as well).

Could you get deeper, more intense attention than a person choosing to watch one creators stories over another out of a list of hundreds or thousands?

This is why, today, Snapchat creators control the attention of their audience at a very deep level.

One-to-One Conversations

The core value of Snapchat to brands is the ability to pull conversations out of their story into one-to-one Snaps.

Think of these as DMs on Twitter (but useful).

Direct Snaps are a real opportunity in Snapchat. Every day I’m answering anywhere from 6–12 questions digital and content marketing through direct Snaps.

I can answer these questions , easily and quickly, from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the road or at home. It could be three minutes before I go on stage or three minutes before I go to sleep, Snapchat provides a unique and intimate connection with my audience.

What kind of brand boost would you get by providing your audience this type of access?

Imagine if Home Depot had staff on the floor prepared to answer home improvement questions, give recommendations on products or simply direct customers around the store via Snapchat?

Could this get overwhelming? Sure, at first. Then you figure out how to scale it.

Think of the connection though and the positive brand impact from this type of intimate, one-to-one, value add.

The intimacy of connection is the secret to Snapchat’s success.

How Should Brands Use Snapchat

There are two paths for a brand to consider when taking on Snapchat as a media platform.

1) Influencer Marketing

Similar to Instagram and Vine, the attention (and therefore, the opportunity), in Snapchat today lies with influencers.

If your brand is the art/pop culture space, you’re going to want to reach out to Shaun Ayala or Georgio Copter.

If you’re in the Millennial marketing space then Brian “@isocialfanz” Fanzo is your guy.

You can always find your regular old celebrities as well like Julianne Hough who was recently promoting her live show, Grease, on Snapchat. Kim Kardashian has also now joined Snapchat (there goes the neighborhood).

Here’s how I’d recommend brands attack influencer marketing on Snapchat:

Brand Mentions

  1. Study influencers who speak to your target demographic (or for those of you with an advanced understanding, target “intent”).
  2. Figure out whose voice and style fits your message.
  3. Begin outreach. Shoot for branded mentions inside influencer stories.

Here is a great example of Snapchat product marketing. Chris Strub (“chrisstrub” on Snapchat) has a large, engaged audience. He openly solicits Whiskey companies to sponsor his #whiskeypour Snaps.

This is a perfect for Whiskey brand looking to crack the Millennial Whiskey enthusiast.

Account Takeovers

After establishing relationships, consider adding influencers takeovers of your Snapchat account.

Account takeovers or swaps are when an influencer will log into your account and create on your behalf. This draws the influencer's audience into your account.

Consistently showcase influencers on your Snapchat account whose message and style resonate with the Snapchat demographic you’re looking to attract.

2) Discovery Stories and Ads

The Discover feature on Snapchat was built for brands to tell their story.

Placed strategically between My Story and live events is the paid, “Discover” section of Snapchat.

The price point for Discover stories sits anyway from $350k to over $750k, which prices many brands out of using the feature.

While $750k might scare the shit out of most brands, others, established and new, see Snapchat as the best way to reach Millennials.

There is no doubt, however, that brands who embrace Snapchat Discover are taking a calculated risk.

Snapchat users do not click out to a brand's website. All Discover content lives on Snapchat and is consumed on Snapchat.

Remember, Snapchat is a pure attention play and attention is what you’re paying for with Discover stories.

Brand Snap Stories

Snapchat should not be viewed as a straight advertising play.

Building an audience through the organic Snapchat story can pay dividends.

  1. You have complete editorial control (which reportedly is not always the case with Discover stories).
  2. You can add clear and direct CTAs to properties outside of Snapchat.

So far, brand engagement in organic Snapchat stories has been minimal.

Here is my one piece of advice for organic stories: use a human being.

Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes have both dipped their toes into Snapchat. Unfortunately, their content thus far has been predominately stock photos with quotes on top.

It feels like these brands are taking their Instagram strategy and stuffing it into Snapchat.

Bad idea.

Comparing Instagram and Snapchat is like comparing apples and dump trucks.

The nature and culture of Snapchat requires a human being. Scary, I know.

Snapchat works because of human connection. Connection without interruption.

Stock photos with quotes are not doing anything to build human connections with your brand.

Why Most Brands Still Won’t Engage on Snapchat

There is no denying the potential attention and authority awaiting brands with the vision and cojones to take on Snapchat.

This is especially true of the brands struggling to connect with the Millennial generation (I’m looking at you insurance carriers).

Yet, most will continue to sit on the sidelines.

Success on Snapchat takes hard work, creativity and time.

For the same reasons that many brands were slow to adopt Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, these same brands will be slow to adopt Snapchat.

For these brands the Snapchat decision looks something like this:

New is scary.

Social media is scary.

Millennials are scary.

New + Social Media + Millennials = Stay Away.

While many brands will look at Snapchat through this lens, those that don’t will position themselves to capitalize on a robust opportunity.

The Rub

Snapchat can help brands capture deep attention in a marketplace continuing to fracture and fragment.

I’m all in on Snapchat (just like I’m all in on Facebook Ads, “They ask, you answer,” and meeting in person).

Snapchat is just one tool we use to connect our message with the audience and consumers we serve.

That being said, if you believe the world is swinging back to more intimate connections (as I do), Snapchat is an obvious play.

I encourage you to come along for the ride. Connect with me on Snapchat using, “ryanmhanley.”

Thank you,

I am Ryan Hanley.

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