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Snapchat for brands part I: The basics & brand specifics

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The trend of platforms providing a place for users to exchange ephemeral content isn’t an obvious one for most brands to join in on; after all, why spend hours planning and executing content only to have it disappear in moments once it hits your audience’s screens? But just like any other social platform, if Snapchat is where your target demographic is, then it’s where you should be spending some of your time. If that’s the case- or you’re just a marketer or brand who loves to experiment- read on to find out all you need to know about marketing on Snapchat for brands.

What do I need to know before getting started?

If you’re already familiar with Snapchat then you can skip this section and head straight for the second section. Otherwise stick around for a basic breakdown of how the platform works.

The very basics: Snapchat scores & finding friends

Your score is simply the total number of snaps you have sent and received, as per Snapchat themselves. That’s all there is to it!

As for finding friends, Snapchat has step-by-step instructions for how to find and add friends that includes screenshots. You can add those who have added you, and find friends via your contacts, or through searching for their Snapchat username.

Stories vs. individual Snaps

Every time you take a snap you have the option to add it to “My Story”- a collection of snaps that add up to tell a bigger story and are viewable for 24 hours- and stories are now more popular than snaps. Stories are also a better choice for brands above sending individual snaps, and we’ll discuss this more in the next section.

Our Story

Snapchat just launched a new feature called “Our Story” that is meant to let Snapchatters collaborate on a bigger story around an event they are physically attending. At the moment the first and only event to have “Our Story” is the Electric Daisy Carnival, but the wording on the page about the feature suggests it will be open to other events in the future. People who aren’t currently attending an “Our Story” event can still add the event as a friend to view the ongoing, collaborative story so they don’t miss out on the experience entirely. This is a great way for event organizers and attendees to persuade them to attend in the future.

Replaying Snaps

You can only replay one snap every 24 hours, so choose carefully! Also keep in mind that your audience can only do the same; that’s important to keep in mind if you’re designing a Snapchat contest or sending coupons.

Notifications

Snapchat notifies the sender of a snap whenever a recipient takes a screenshot of their snap or a chat between them. They have different icons to let you know if your snaps and chats have been sent, viewed, and more. Snapchat will also notify you if someone replays a snap.

And that’s it for the basics; if you have more questions you can find answers to them in Snapchat’s own support site.

What do I need to know specifically as a brand?

This is where we get into the specifics for brands using Snapchat; while creating consistently intriguing content is a given, there are also different settings you’ll want to consider than if you were using Snapchat for personal reasons.

Settings

In your settings you’ll want to make sure that you set “Who is allowed to view my story?” to “Everyone”. Otherwise only those you’ve added as “My Friends” will be able to see it, and you’ll be missing out on voluntary eyeballs until you manually add everyone who adds you. With a popular brand that could be quite an undertaking.

The manual aspect of individual snaps can be a daunting prospect for brands- as of now there’s no way to create a single snap and click on a “send to all” option; you have to go through your list and choose each recipient individually-  but the workaround is adding all of the content you create to your story. (Whether or not you choose to let your audience send you snaps back is up to you, and would mostly be useful in terms of building engagement through reciprocation they can see- the icon will let them know you viewed their snap- or in conducting a Snapchat contest. The option of who is allowed to send you snaps is controlled in “Settings”.)

Also be sure to check out “Manage” under “Additional Services” to turn on the “Front-Facing Flash”, “Replay” option, and enable “Special Text”, all of which will enhance the content of your snaps.

Kinds of content to post

Truly creative content is what makes Snapchat sing, so you’ll want to plan and execute content using all of the features we mentioned earlier to make your snaps as interesting as possible:

  • Draw on your photos using the pencil icon in the upper right-hand corner using the full range of colors available; this gives you the ability to turn your snaps into just about anything

  • Tap on the screen to add text; turning on special text lets you alter it to be larger and adjust the positioning

  • If you have an emoji keyboard on your phone, Snapchat will support adding these characters in with your text

Other than utilizing those features, the kind of content you want to share will depend on your brand and what your goals are with the platform. Is it to share behind-the-scenes company culture? Is it to share brief behind-the-scenes interviews and photos with the stars of your show or movie? Is it to show off your products in new and interesting ways?

We’ll look at a few different types of brands using Snapchat in the next post to give you some ideas of what kind of content has been successful.

Frequency of snaps

While regular snaps are limited to a maximum time limit of 10 seconds, stories aren’t limited except to a 24 hour period of existence. However, since Snapchat was built to be a quick and fleeting experience, you might not want to be the first to discover what the limits of a story are. Keep it simple, sweet, and relatively short; set up stories of different lengths and see if you get an increase in activity around one type or length above others.

What do we mean by increased activity? Well, measuring Snapchat is difficult, but pay attention to things like how many people are adding you to their friend list, taking screenshots, choosing to replay your snaps, or even sending you snaps in reply if you choose to make that option available.

Anything else?

That’s it for now! Check out the basics in the first section of this post if you need to, or stick around for our next post covering which brands use Snapchat well. If you still have questions, leave ‘em in the comments!

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Written by Sarah

June 26th, 2014 at 8:40 am

2 Responses to 'Snapchat for brands part I: The basics & brand specifics'

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  1. [...] already covered the basics of how Snapchat works and some of the specifics for how brands should be using the app, so now we wanted to show examples of how some different brands have been using snaps and stories [...]

  2. [...] Snapchat to inform your own strategy. Want even more on Snapchat for brands? Check out our pieces: Snapchat for brands part I: The basics & brand specifics and Snapchat for brands part II: Brands who do it [...]

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