Everything You Need to Know About Snapchat Marketing

by David Greenspan
on May 27, 2016


  1. The Quick & Dirty Basics of Snapchat
  2. An Audience’s Undivided Attention
  3. Snapchat Marketing 101
  4. Some Wild & Crazy Predictions for the Future of Snapchat Marketing


Imagine the next frontier of video marketing – a world where your audience gives you their undivided attention. A world where your videos are short, to the point, and replayed hundreds of time. A world where you have phenomenal brand exposure and spend almost no money on promotions.

That future’s here and it’s called Snapchat marketing.

Now before you write this article off as just another marketing company trying to cash in on Snapchat’s hype, let’s hit a few key points.

    • Engagement is through the roof – 100 million active daily users (and that number’s from last year!) – Venture Beat


    • It boasts something like 6 billion daily video plays (again, that number’s from the end of 2015…it’s certainly higher now) – Tech Crunch


    • If we’re looking for strictly commerce stats – over half of Snapchat’s users bought something online in 2014’s fourth quarter. Instagram and Facebook had much smaller numbers, both coming in at under 50%. What do you think the numbers are today? – Insta Brand


  • Finally, and this point’s going to be expanded below, when someone views your snap, they’re viewing a full screen video. No mindless scrolling at all, just an audience’s undivided attention

Convinced Snpachat’s the future of video marketing yet? Convinced learning how to use it’s key to your content marketing and business growth yet? Convinced we’re onto something huge here and going to share it with you?

Sounds good – let’s go.

The Quick & Dirty Basics of Snapchat

snapchat notification
only 1 notification?

You’re probably not new to Snapchat. You’ve probably heard of it, send personal snaps, and are wondering what sort of future Snapchat marketing has. In fact, you may even be an avid consumer of Gary V’s Snapchat raves.

If that’s you, skip ahead. This section isn’t for you and, to be perfectly honest, it’s going to bore you to death. Here at TM34, we aim to be responsible for no one’s death.

If, however, you’re new to Snapchat – if you’ve sent nary one snap of you and your friends singing karaoke – then this section is for you.

What’s Snapchat and why won’t everyone shut up about it for one minute (and why are those damn kids back on my lawn with their skateboards and loud music??)?

Snapchat’s a visual messaging app in which the videos expire after they’re played. Think Inspector Gadget for the 21st century (with less explosions).

You can send pictures, videos, text (through the chat feature), and post all the above to your story. You can also add different filters, text, emojis, and even draw on your pictures and videos.

The point here is that you have an almost limitless supply of tools to make your snaps unique and one-of-a-kind…and then they disappear forever (unless someone screenshots them – we all have that one friend who screenshots WAY too much).

I mentioned your story above. I’m only going to explain that briefly here, but scroll down for a detailed exploration of how your Snapchat story can be used for marketing purposes.

Your story is a collection of snaps viewable for 24 hours. You can choose to add a particularly good (read: embarrassing) snap to your story or you can choose to let it die an agonizing digital death after your crush watches it and doesn’t respond.

A quick note on filters – they’re the best. Told you that would be quick.

A quick note on Snapchat’s chat system – it’s still somewhat clunky, but I expect that to change shortly. They’re constantly updating the app and making the UI sleeker and more intuitive.

For now, it’s enough to say you can video chat and even make phone calls through the chat system. This is great for communicating with friends overseas and contacting the spirit realm (joking…I think).

Alright, now that you’re a Snapchat expert and have the basics down to a T, let’s look at some of the benefits it offers over other social channels.

An Audience’s Undivided Attention

The largest advantage to using Snapchat for marketing is its rabid, content-consuming users. I check my Snapchat probably 25 times a day, respond to snaps, add snaps to my story, watch my friends’ stories, and check out brands on the Discover page.

Lest you think I’m some sort of Snapchat fiend – those numbers are standard for all users, with the average user spending between 25 and 30 minutes per day on the app.

While that’s less time than Facebook, it’s more than most other apps. Here’s where we get to the “point b” of Snapchat’s rabid, content-consuming users.

While people mindlessly scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest – they actively engage with Snapchat.

addicted to snapping
definitely not me

Think about it like this – when you advertise or post organically to any of the above social channels, your reach is limited to static views on a scroll-based platform. Sure, there are things like video and Facebook’s Canvas ad system to liven your feed up, but, overall, you’re either watching briefly and moving on or simply moving on right away.

So, your brand’s ad dollars and creative energy amounts to…a half-remembered flicker of a scroll. Snapchat marketing’s different.

When a user wants to view a snap – directly sent or through your story – they open it and it takes up the entire screen. They pay attention to your snap and only your snap for its duration. That might not sound like much, but compared to a static ad? The difference is night and day.

And we haven’t even touched on filters or any other add-on yet.

It’s clear Snapchat gives users – and yes, us brands too – the most bang for their buck. So, the question then becomes how to capitalize on it? How do we, as marketers large and small, use Snapchat to grow and monetize our audience?

Snapchat Marketing 101

This is the fun part. Well, fun if you’re a certified Snapchat marketing nerd anyway.

For ease of both understanding and reading, I’ve broken marketing on Snapchat down into several short sections below. Read on to learn –

    • If Snapchat’s right for your brand


    • How to grow your audience


    • Just what the hell to snap in the first place


    • Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about filters


    • Individual snaps vs. posting to your story


  • How to use Snapchat for customer service

At the end of reading all this, you’ll be up to speed with the most savvy snappers, the most snazzy snaps, and the most…well, you get the idea.

Is Snapchat Right for Your Brand?

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether Snapchat is even right for your company, business, or brand (and yes, there’s certainly a difference between the three).

At the end of the day – as much as it pains me to say – Snapchat isn’t right for everyone. If you own an antiques boutique and most of your clients are above 65 years old, Snapchat marketing isn’t going to be your best bet.

Now that isn’t to say avoid it altogether if you deal with an older client base, but rather there are better uses of your marketing dollars.

the future of video marketing

Snapchat is an ideal platform if –

    • You’re catering to the 35 and under age bracket


    • You’re in the media, tech, entertainment, fashion, or beauty industries


    • You’re looking for brand awareness rather than direct sales (though make no mistake, you can rack up some impressive sales through Snapchat)


    • You produce funny content


  • You’re a strong, loud, or otherwise rambunctious personality

The list could go on for…about 10 more years, but you get the point. Snapchat marketing isn’t for everyone. For those brands it’s a good match for though? There’s no beating it.

Growing Your Audience

You have a Snapchat, but are sorely lacking in the followers count. What’s a brand to do?

While this isn’t as immediately important – or, for that matter, noticeable – as on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, it does limit your potential reach. You’re going to be yelling into the wind and, sooner rather than later, run out of breath.

There are a bunch of ways to grow your Snapchat following. These include –

    • Posting your snapcode across other social channels. You can even make it your profile picture. Then all people have to do is take a screenshot of it, open Snapchat, add the photo, and boom – your follower count just increased by one
a shameless plug for my personal Snapchat (note the sweet beard)
    • More hardcore version of the above tip – use Facebook and Twitter ads to drive traffic to your Snapchat



  • Getting an influencer to give you a shout out, either directly on Snapchat or on another social channel

And those are just to get some initial traction on your profile. Once you’ve started to build up a following, there are some other techniques you’re going to want to use to start a snowball effect.

Speaking of which, let’s look at just what you’re going to want to be snapping once you have an audience ready and waiting for content.

What to Snap

This is the section you’ve been waiting for, right? This is (probably) why you’re reading this article and the only piece of information that really matters to you and your brand – just what the hell do we snap?

Fear not intrepid Snapchatter, the answer’s actually very simple. Snap great content!

Alright, that’s a bit reductive…but it holds true. Take videos of interesting and noteworthy things related to your brand.

This includes, but certainly isn’t limited to, the following –

    • Informal pictures and videos of your staff and, more importantly, your customers


    • Speaking of customers, snap them enjoying your product or service


    • Behind the scenes pictures and videos of your company


    • Any events your company hosts or takes part in


    • Funny content related to your industry. For example, if you’re a shoe company, post some videos of your people’s horrendous shoe choices. Be tasteful, of course
private snapchat
don’t send private pics unless you’re ok with a screenshot
    • Let an employee take over your story for a day. Let them post whatever they want…within reason!


    • Hell, let a customer take over your story for a day. While this approach is riskier than most companies want to go, it can have some fantastic results


    • If you’re in retail, try snapping flash sales. This tactic is also pretty boss for building followers


    • All of the above…but with filters, text, and some hand drawn art


  • And anything we haven’t thought of! The point isn’t to produce “perfect” content, but rather to highlight your brand’s unique story through innovative pictures and videos

It’s really that simple.

Above all else, though, don’t treat Snapchat like an avenue for advertising. While you can, and certainly should, include some advertising best practices, you’ll find much more success by presenting your company as it is.

To Filter or Not to Filter?

snapchat filters

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, by brands leery of marketing on Snapchat, whether they should use filters and, for that matter, just what the hell are these filters all about?

Snapchat’s funny, face-distorting, surreal filters seem to be producing a lot of confusion. Should brands use them? Are they too informal, too irreverent? What if my brand uses them wrong and looks out of touch?

Obviously each individual and brand’s strategy should be tailored to their unique goals, but a good rule of thumb is to use filters if they fit your snap.

If you’re posting a series of funny snaps, go for it! If you’re posting a series of videos from a black tie event, well, maybe lay off faceswapping the CEO for now.

Snaps vs. Your Story

Along with being asked what to snap and whether to use filters, I hear this one all the time – should my company send individual snaps or just post to our story?

Nine times out of ten I’m going to advise you to stick to your story. Not only will this save you time (sending individual snaps takes time!), but it’s a bit creepy to receive personal snaps from companies.

There’s one major caveat here though. I’m a big fan of using individual snaps when it comes to customer service. Speaking of which…

Customer Service

Snapchat is the next frontier of customer service. Call me crazy, but I feel this in my bones.

With some startups already using it to help customers, I think I’m onto something here.

Think about it, customer service is predicated on solving problems quickly. Snapchat is a transient video platform that’s all about speed. The two just seem to fit together.

Now, there is a major drawback to using Snapchat for customer service. You guessed it, snaps disappear! This means your customer service team needs to be on their game and possibly replay customer service snaps multiple times.

Still, for a generation that hates calling 1-800 numbers, using Snapchat to help customers resolve their problems seems like a smart idea. Not to mention it’s going to make your brand stand out.

Seems like a win-win, right?

Some Wild & Crazy Predictions for the Future of Snapchat Marketing

Now that we’ve covered the state of Snapchat marketing, turned you into a pro at using Snapchat for marketing, and explored ways you can delight your audience – let’s turn our attention to the future.

That’s right, it’s time to make some absurd predictions about the future of brands marketing on Snapchat. If nothing else, this should be fun to look back on in a six months or a year, right?

With a current valuation of around $16 billion, the future’s looking bright for brands snapping. Here’s what I think’s going to happen in the near future –

snapchat discover page
Snapchat’s Discover page is going to become MUCH more affordable to get on
    • The Discover feature is going to keep decreasing in price to get featured on as more companies scramble for a piece of the snap pie


    • Google or Apple are going to try and acquire Snapchat. Hell, Facebook may even make another bid. I don’t think Snapchat will allow itself to be bought, but I think some major players are going to try


    • Snapchat’s going to introduce a detailed analytics platform for publishers. Right now, they offer almost nothing beyond basic demographic information


    • Snapchat marketing is going to become a hot keyword to compete for in organic search!


    • Video marketing in general is going to become much more informal. We’ve certainly seen a move towards this with live streaming video and the rise of social video. It’s just going to continue to grow


  • Speaking of live streaming, Snapchat’s Live feature is going to explode and become a major player in streaming video marketing

And probably a lot more unexpected twists and turns.

That’s it. Congratulations, you’re now a Snapchat marketing expert. Now go out there and start garnering fans and followers with your newfound knowledge. Oh, and don’t forget to thank us, the Snapchat nerds at TM34!

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