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Looking to update your social media marketing process in 2023?

Over the first few weeks of the year, we’re publishing a series of tips and notes on how to maximize your social efforts, including pointers on new tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E, and how these evolving apps can assist in your content planning process.

We’ve already covered the following elements:

Next up is the youth-focused ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, which remains a key connector or many young users – and as such, it may be a valuable platform for your brand as well.

Looking to get into Snapchat for your brand? Here are some key tips.

Snapchat posting tips

As noted, while Snapchat isn’t as big as the other major players in the space, it remains a critical connection tool for many younger users, with Snap’s own data showing that Snapchatters are 5x more likely to be students than those using other apps.

This is Snap’s real strength – the app has become the platform of choice for many teens, and is where they feel more comfortable engaging and sharing content. Which is also why it’s a valuable platform for fueling recommendations and product insights.

So how do you do it?

Your first port of call is establishing whether your target audience is actually on Snap, and if so, what they’re interested in.

For this, you can use the Audience Insights element of Snap Ads Manager, which enables you to hone in on different regions and demographics, and glean more insight into the respective Snap audience based on your settings.

Snapchat Audience Insights

As you can see here, your Audience Insights initially start with wide-ranging data points, based on region. But you can zoom into a specific market by using the ‘Target Locations on Map’ option at the left of screen.

Snapchat Audience Insights

Hone in on a specific regional market and you can glean more data on gender split, income, interests, etc.

Snap will even give you the top interest categories for people in that region.

Snapchat Audience Insights

There’s also additional audience insight here from Nielsen and datalogix, which can deepen your understanding of key trends and interests in your target market.

This is valuable info for your efforts, which can help to define your Snapchat strategy. Or maybe, you find from this that your target audience isn’t active in the app, and it’s not worth your time. Either way, Snap’s Audience Insights element is a key starting point, which will give you more context as to how to connect with the Snapchat audience around key topics and elements.

In addition to this, you can also upload your own audience data and dig into if/how they use Snapchat.

Based on all of this, you can build a profile of your Snapchat market, which will help to define your approach to the platform from there.

Brand profiles on Snap

Snapchat added brand profiles in the app in 2020, and they’re a good way to showcase your business content, along with any brand AR experiences or Snapchat-specific tools you’ve added.

Snapchat brand profiles

You can also highlight shoppable products in the app via your brand profile display, while there’s also a subscribe option, enabling you to build stronger connections in the app.

You don’t have to convert to or create a brand profile, but it’s advisable given the additional functionalities, while it also helps Snap to better categorize your presence in its search tools, improving discovery.

You can create a brand profile on Snap here.

AR experiences

You’ll note that I mentioned AR experiences, which are a key element within the broader Snap engagement process. Indeed, Snapchat says that 72% of its active users engage with AR elements in the app every day, and as it continues to evolve its AR tools, that also opens up new avenues for brand promotion and awareness, via more immersive experiences.

But AR is beyond the reach of many brands, right? AR experiences require in-depth technical skills and knowledge, and there’s not really a low-scale way into creating AR initiatives. Right?

Snap is working to improve its systems on this front, and provide more ways for all businesses to create engaging AR activations, even if they don’t have technical skills or resources on their side.

Snap’s AR Lens Web Builder platform includes a heap of templates and tools to build AR experiences, while Lens Studio also includes a range of helpful tools and tips to help anyone get started in the AR creation process.

Snapchat Lens Web Builder

In addition to this, Snap also has AR education courses and walk-throughs, which can provide more context and insight into the process.

It’s not going to be for everyone, and maybe you find that creating a customized AR experience doesn’t produce the results that you want. But as AR continues to gather steam, and we see the development of AR glasses and other means to engage with these more immersive experiences, it may well be worth getting up to speed on the latest AR tools, and seeing whether there’s a way to use them in your promotions.

Stories and Spotlight tips

For most of your brand activity in the app, you’re going to be uploading either Stories or to Snapchat’s Spotlight short-form video feed.

The format for Stories is pretty much the same as on Instagram – you put together a sequence of images or videos that ideally tell a story, or otherwise seek to drive engagement with your core messaging.

Stories shared via brand profiles are public, so anyone who comes across your profile can view your Stories content. This is not the same as regular user profiles, which can only share Stories with their connections (Shared Stories can also be re-shared beyond that initial group).

In terms of creative tips, Snapchat says that brands should

  • Optimize the opening – Capture attention in the first 1-2 seconds of your story
  • Storytelling – Post longer Stories (3+ connected Snaps) in a burst to get started and tell a cohesive story
  • Cadence – Post consistently to start developing learnings
  • Content – Test a mixture of re-purposed and custom for Snap material in order to see what resonates. Consider takeover, behind the scenes, contest and 1st-person POV content in addition to incorporating Lenses and Filters as formats to test.
  • Call to Actions – Include calls to subscribe through audio and graphics regularly

On Spotlight, in variance to Stories, you’re focusing on a single video clip, while you also need to add a description and topic hashtag/s on the ‘Send To’ page in order to improve discovery.

You can discover relevant hashtags within the app – search for a hashtag relevant to your business within the Spotlight element, and Snap will show you a list of related tags to also consider.

Snapchat hashtags

You can add as many hashtags as you like (up to 100), but as with all platforms, you should look to keep your hashtag usage targeted, in order to get your content in front of the most relevant audience/s in the app (you’re also limited to 160 characters in the description field, which leaves you pretty restricted as to how many tags you can feasibly put in).

In terms of content trends, Snapchat says that these topics tend to perform well as Spotlight clips:

  • Instructional videos – DIY, tutorials, how-tos, cooking, arts and crafts, or anything that has a process
  • Show off your talent – Comedy, dance, music, and physical activities
  • Awe and Aww – Nature, scenery, animals, babies
  • Challenges – Always keep it safe and PG13

Those trends may apply, but you likely want to search the relevant hashtags in the app and see what’s being posted in your niche, and what’s doing well already.

Additional notes

  • Snap advises that Snap ads, if you choose to go the paid promotion route, should only be around 5-6 seconds in duration. ‘This gives your brand the opportunity to reach potential customers in a way that feels organic and non-intrusive to Snapchatters, and puts you right in the middle of their conversations’. 
  • 64% of Snapchat Ads are viewed with noise on, so make sure you consider audio cues in your planning.
  • Story replies and quoting are good considerations for building community in the app, by interacting with fan responses

In addition to this, I asked Social and Streaming Analytics Researcher Mike Metzler, who was one of the first ever creators verified on Snapchat, and is the person I go to with any Snapchat for business questions, for his key Snap growth tips:

  • All SMBs should get a public business profile, which, aside from the aforementioned options, is also the easiest way to get verified on Snapchat. Being verified on Snapchat has a number of additional benefits such as increased visibility within the app, additional analytics and more.
  • Get your business on Snap Maps. You can do that through the Snap Ads platform, but you can also do it by adding your business to Open Street Map. Snapchat uses Mapbox which uses Bing Maps and OSM. You want to make sure you cover your bases and get your account discoverable on Snap Maps as quickly as possible.
  • Once you’ve got your business profile live on Snap Maps, people will be able to use your location tag to add stories to your location (see blue arrow pointing to stories on a map below). Use this as an opportunity to push out what YOU want people to see. Take control of the content. Take beautiful pictures of your food, location, people having fun – you don’t have to leave it to random people to showcase the best of what your business has to offer. These snaps, when tagged, can stay on your business profile for months so keep an eye out for what is showing up and control the narrative.
Snapchat example
  • Also worth noting – once your business is set up on Snap Maps it will also pull in reviews from Trip Advisor, which is another element to be aware of
  • Snapchat Spotlight is starved for localized content at the moment, so if you post from your area, make sure you use location-specific hashtags, tag businesses and submit to Spotlight. By doing this, you have a good chance of getting your content seen by the community that you’re trying to serve. Think videos like ‘Top 10 things to do in Houston on a Wednesday’, ‘The Best XXX type of food in Houston’. You can work with local influencers or just make the video yourself, nothing is stopping you from taking advantage of Spotlight to promote your business locally.
  • The spotlight video below is an example of a great localized spotlight video anyone could do for their business. It has subtitles, a great hook, question, and image to start the video, the business is tagged, with location info, etc. The video only has 22k views but look how many shares it has.
Snapchat example

Some great tips, from someone with deep experience in building brand profiles in the app.

Hopefully these notes help to get your Snapchat approach on the right track.