What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a free mobile app that allows you to send pictures and videos for free, which then disappear after an allotted time. Since launching in 2011, Snapchat, which has recently been valued at $16 billion, is now reported to be the most important social network for 18-24 year olds, with users spending 25-30 minutes a day on the platform. Currently Snapchat has over 10 million daily UK users and 8 billion video clips are being watched worldwide on the platform every day.
How does Snapchat work?
Snapchat sends pictures and videos to your contacts, which you can then customise by adding stamps, filters and doodles. What makes Snapchat different from social platforms like Instagram is the ephemeral nature of the content; the image or video is only shown for a few seconds, and then disappears. Users have a limited amount of daily replays, but generally unless the sent picture is captured with a screenshot, it won’t be seen again.
As Snapchat is viewed full screen by default, it helps people see and consume more videos as there is no scroll function. This means the viewer can focus fully on what is shown on the screen before skipping on to the next snap.
How are brands using it?
Despite Snapchat not providing much data apart from daily views and screenshots, it is being picked up as a main channel for brands to promote products and keep in touch with consumers. So how can businesses use Snapchat? There are plenty of ways to create unique content for this platform. Here are some of the most popular ways brands are using the channel:
× To give followers exclusives with behind the scenes action
× To report live videos of catwalks/shows/photoshoots
× To promote favourite products
× To host competitions for Snapchat followers
× To offer discounts through Snapchat only codes
× For collaborations where celebrities can take over a brand Snapchat account for a day
Most brands will use the story feature that gets sent out to all their contacts, and this can be replayed over a period of 24 hours. Rather than send each contact an individual Snapchat, this is a great way to publish ‘a day in the life’ style content and give followers a unique insight into the ethos of the brand.
Creating brand stories on Snapchat
Rather than send a picture to a few selected contacts, a snap can be added to your Story which is displayed to all contacts. This will be uploaded for 24 hours and can be replayed and added to. Live stories, which are a series of snaps from life events and locations around the world curated by Snapchat, can generate up to 40 million views. If you’re in a location with a Live Story, you can submit a snap to the story. This can be seen by every user on Snapchat if they choose to view the story.
× How to collect Story data
Once you have sent out a story from your brand account, the best way to record data is by clicking onto the three dots at the right of the screen. This will then show you how many followers have seen and screenshot your story. In this section it will also list the name of each follower that has seen or screenshot. Brands can use this data to host competitions where the winner is selected at random from this list. You can also delete a snap from your story by pressing the bin icon in the corner.
× Chat within Story
Followers can also chat to a brand through their Snapchat story. Simply go into settings and set who can ‘contact me’ and ‘view my story’ to everyone.. This is a great way to interact with followers. If a follower has any questions regarding products featured in the snaps they can send the brand a message on Snapchat chat by sliding up on the story. The brand can then reply directly in the private Snapchat chat.
Other top features for brands
As Snapchat has grown in popularity, so have its features. These now include
This is a new way to find stories from different editorial teams. Currently companies distributing content through the app include Daily Mail, CNN, Refinery29, Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan, with Cosmopolitan claiming to have 19 million views each month on the channel. This is almost as many as views their website. The Daily Mail has also reported millions of views on a daily basis. With the added option to ‘subscribe’ to these channels, so that it appears every day on the Stories screen, users are sure to not miss out on the latest content from each company.
× Advertising on Snapchat
There are now three different ways brands can advertise in snapchat, with Snap Ads, Sponsored Geofilters and Sponsored Lenses. Snap Ads are purposely made for full screen mobile, giving the full attention of the screen. From here users have the option to swipe up and see more. The 3V ads (Vertical, Video, Views), appear within the curated content, such as stories found in the Discover channel and the live stories. So far, Snap Ads has seen a swipe up rate 5x higher than the average click through rate on comparable platforms.
× On-Demand Geofilters
Geofilters on Snapchat are stamps that you can add over your picture. Generally they are for locations e.g. London, New York, Amsterdam, but now you can pay to create your own on-demand Business Geofilter for when the user is in a particular area. These on-demand Geofilters run in specific locations during designated dates, starting from as little as $5. Brands can use them to support launches and events, or even create them to run in certain stores if they cover a large enough area.
× Sponsored Lenses
Using facial recognition tools, snaps can be sent with lenses and sound effects, for example adding flower crowns, or distorting the face in the snap, sometimes using prompts such as ‘raise your eyebrows’ or ‘open your mouth’ to trigger animations. Sponsored Lenses offer users a chance to ‘play’ with brands through the interactive ad, which can then be sent to friends or uploaded to their personal Story.
Also known as Snaptags, these are the Snapchat version of QR codes. Each user has their own unique Snapcode which can be found by pressing the ghost icon at the top of the app. Using a Snapcode is the easiest way for users to follow celebrities and brands on Snapchat. All you need to do is screenshot the code, and then upload it through the ‘Add friends’ section. For brands, high res Snapcodes can be downloaded for printing and sharing. Posting the code on social media is the best way to show followers you are on Snapchat, as they can use the Snapcode to easily add you as a contact.
The best brands & celebrities to follow on Snapchat
Here’s our pick of the top brands & influencers to follow on Snapchat right now:
- ASOS (asosfashion) – for discount codes and products of the week
- EVERLANE (everlane) – for behind the scenes action and upcoming products
- Birchbox (birchbox) – for makeup tutorials and behind the scenes
- Redbull – for live sports action
- Nike (nikenyc) – for fitness inspiration
- LACMA (lacma) – for art merged with fun lyrics
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (rosiehw) – for makeup tutorials and her sausage dogs
- Kylie Jenner (kylizzlemynizzl) – for being the #1 most viewed Snapchat account
- Gigi Hadid (itsgigihadid) – for backstage fashion events and loved up snaps
- DJ Khaled (djkhaled305) – for motivational snaps
- Chris Pratt (chrisprattsnap) – for funny videos
- Alexa Chung (chungalexa) – for fashion event snaps
- Nick Grimshaw (hiyagrimmy) – for celeb selfies with his Radio1 guests and snaps of his adorable pup
- Calvin Harris (calvinharris) – for studio and motivational snaps
ASOS uses Snapchat as a key marketing channel and the brand’s content on this platform received over 20 million views during London Fashion Week. As well as behind-the-scenes snippets from high profile events, the fashion brand often uses Snapchat to post about the latest trends and products of the week. It has also been known to offer out Snapchat only 20% discount promotion codes for its followers that are only valid for a few hours.
In 2014 Nasty Gal even recruited their social media intern through Snapchat. Followers were asked to send Nasty Gal a snap of what they would do on Snapchat as their social media intern. Any that the brand liked the look of would be invited to interview.
What is the future for Snapchat?
In 2014, Snapchat partnered with Square and launched Snapcash, which allows Snapchat users in the US to send and receive money through the chat feature. Snapchat has also sold extra features and replays to users for a small fee. And it seems the next step has been revealed; that shopping and ecommerce are coming to Snapchat. Through the Discover setting, users will soon be able to buy products without leaving the application, making it an even more desirable marketing platform for brands.
September 2016 saw Snapchat undergo a rebrand, changing their company name from Snapchat Inc., to Snap Inc. and becoming a mobile-first company. This was a decision made as the company continue to develop other new and exciting products to compliment the app, such as Spectacles. These are glasses that record digital video using a new circular video format which can be played in full screen, in any orientation, with the idea that the videos can capture the human perspective, making it easier to create memories to look back on.