Jan 29, 2016

Snapchat For Brands – The How To Guide

Jan 29th, 2016 - 10 mins read

How To Get Started with Snapchat

Snapchat – the mobile-only social network has continued to grow in popularity with its users, namely due to the disposable nature of snaps and videos in contrast to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. As well as the more playful features like captioning and drawings adds back a good dose of fun not seen in social networking since the days of Myspace & Bebo. Users are now sending over 700m photos and videos per day, many of which will be selfies.

To date many brands have been cautious over joining the conversation… There are currently no official brand/business accounts, metrics are difficult to acquire, there’s only little advertising, and the natural or instant nature of the content is difficult for some brands to get their head around. But in this lies the opportunity for fast-moving, forward-thinking, brave businesses to see Snapchat as an opportunity to engage a new audience – competition is less than other channels and the barrier to entry is low.

Snapchat changed that perception of deleting something as bad. Online, typically you delete something if it’s bad or if it’s really embarrassing.
Evan Spiegel, CEO Snapchat


You may not be aware of what the main features are on Snapchat, or what the opportunities are for brands. And you wouldn’t be alone. So here is our guide for getting started using Snapchat for your brand…


The Audience

Snapchat is heavily popular with teens, and their main demographic is stated as 13-23 year olds, and founder Evan Spiegel has remarked on a predominantly female user-base. Its popularity with this audience has been down to it being a mobile-only social network through growing adoption of smart-phone users, the disposable nature of the content, one to one communication with contacts much more in line with services like WhatsApp than a news-feed type network, and possibly the fact that parents, teachers and family aren’t on Snapchat is appealing to some teens.

Another study suggests that Snapchat is taking mindshare away from Facebook, partcilularly in the undergrad demographic.

The most recent stats suggest there are over 100 million monthly active users currently on the network.

In comparison with other social networks there is a high usage for the teen population.


Snapchat Social Media Audience Statistics 2015

Source: Business Insider



Here, I won’t go into the basics for how to set up an account on Snapchat as it’s fairly simple. However Marketing Land do a good job at explaining the basics if you want to learn more before taking the plunge.

To start with it’s worth getting your head around how things work on Snapchat. There’s no profile bio, custom photo, url to your site and unless people know to look for you it’s likely they won’t find you. So you need to promote your username through other channels. You can also create a ‘ghost’ Snapcode image to share on other social networks which allows people to use their camera to find you on Snapchat, similar to a QR code, more below…


You can send one-to-one photo and video content to single recipients in your contact list, and set time-rules for how long they can be viewed. This is a dominate feature on Snapchat with 88% of snaps are sent to one recipient, 12% going to multiple contacts.


Stories allow users to share videos as a broadcast message to all friends, which can be viewed an unlimited number of times over a 24 hour period. Stories can also be shared with the user’s friends.


Here is a feature which allows two users who are using the app concurrently to video chat. Users are notified by a blue bubble to inform other users that they are available to video chat.

Our Story

This is a curated feature by Snapchat themselves, which is usually done around music festivals, sport events, national holidays etc and compiles user content into montages broadcast to all Snapchat users.


Snapcodes are used to point people to your profile, created by Snapchat to help users share their usernames with friends on other social networks in a fun and effective way. When you have Snapchat open, simply point the camera toward a ghost Snapcode and take a picture. Then the camera will recognise the Snapcode and all you have to do is tap the screen to add that user to your contacts.
You can add celebrities using Snapcodes via this site too.


Chris Harris Snapchat


Snapcash enables users (US only right now) to send money to their friends in the app, in a partnership with payments firm Square.


The Discover feature allows users to consume text and video content from different editorial teams as selected by Snapchat. Currently (in the UK) these include Mail Online, MTV, National Geographic, Sky News, Buzzfeed, Cosmo & Vice.
Snapchat Discover UK


Having launched this in Sept 2015, users were able to buy and use free ‘lenses’ which created animations on video snaps, using facial recognition technology. More recently Snapchat has closed the purchasing store for lenses, but there will still be 10 free lenses for users to play with, as well as sponsored lenses from brands.



As of Jan 2015, Snapchat offers three ways for brands to buy Snapchat eyeballs:

Live Story Takeover – allows brands to take-over the three ad-spots within Live Stories.

3V Campaigns – 3V audience campaigns may be flighted across multiple Live Stories and multiple Discover channels, with additional frequency capping and targeting.

Geo filters  – these are created by Snapchat, members of the Snapchat community, and brands. Geo filters are then added to Snaps and Stories by users. On holidays and special occasions, Geo filter usage increases tenfold. Currently brands can pay for a custom filter to run either nationally or at high st chain locations.

More info on advertising can be seen on Snapchat’s website.

Ideas For Brands

Snapchat is a platform made for content marketing and creative storytelling. Also, by the nature of the platform and the content being shared by its users, a very lo-fi, worts-and-all level of content. Videos are shot directly on a smartphone, usually in selfie-mode. This is quite a concept for brand/social media managers to get their heads around compared with other social channels where the production values may be higher. But once fully embraced it can be very liberating and returns to one of the great possibilities of social media – the ability to humanise a brand.

Your content strategy should be regular (daily), using fresh and engaging content, and where possible exclusive. With any newer social network you need to give value to the audience oyu are building, giving them a reason to follow you. Through Stories you can tell your evolving brand story on a micro level, sharing moments throughout the day. Authenticity is crucial.

With Snapchat you don’t need to get too hung up on the production values of a campaign – your Snapchat followers won’t, so you shouldn’t either. Content will disappear tomorrow so don’t make things too complicated or convoluted. After all, that’s what Snapchat users love about the platform.

Remember that Snapchat right now has little in the way of discovery for new brands starting to use the platform – fans need to know your username to be able to find you. Therefore you need to include supporting your Snapchat account via other marketing channels you own or have access to. Discovery can be assisted through the ‘ghost’ functionality mentioned above.

Here are a few examples of how you can start to use Snapchat for your brand with examples to illustrate:


The golden rule for any brand on a social network is adding value. Give me a reason to follow you. Content exclusive to Snapchat is a great way to use this platform.

Auto brand Acura were an early example of this, giving a sneak preview of their NSX supercar to the first 100 users who added their account. Pretty special if you were one of the hundred.

In 2015 we ran a Snapchat campaign for Penguin Books, promoting YouTube sensation Zoella, and her Girl Online series which featured a variety of content and included the world’s first ever Snapchat book signing. You can read more about this campaign in our work section.




Much like exclusives you can give away vouchers or coupons in a fun and immediate way to your customers. What’s also great for vouchers is it can provide marketers with a direct correlation for the success of your Snapchat campaign through tracking redemptions of a voucher. I’d recommend making the voucher or discount code exclusive for your Snapchat audience. It makes them feel loved and special and helps you track where those customers have come from.

In the UK, Cooperative Electrical ran a voucher campaign targeted at students, where followers of their Snapchat account would be able to redeem a £30 off voucher against a new laptop.

Snapchat Voucher Campaign Coop

In 2014 we ran a campaign for fashion brand OnePiece which was part of a Christmas Advent Calendar campaign. Snapchat worked as a great platform to provide the audience with daily offers for online store discounts. The snaps would disappear after 24 hours, which allowed us to change the offer each day keeping the content fresh.

OnePiece Xmas Snapchat


Original Content

In Poland, fashion retailer H&M ran their first marketing effort on Snapchat, by hiding tickets for exclusive Boiler Room parties (that H&M sponsored) in H&M stores and asked people to follow their Snapchat for hints and messages to find the tickets. See for yourself on the video below.

Raise Awareness

Snapchat is no different to other social platforms in it’s ability to help drive awareness of a brand. Arguably it causes a more personal and sincere form of sharing as predominantly users are communicating one-to-one as opposed to broadcasting to their followers. If a brand can tap into this creatively, it can be powerful way to communicate a message.

Car manufacturer Audi conducted an interesting campaign on Snapchat around the Superbowl. Partnering with editorial website The Onion, they aimed to share all the interesting news not related to football, and in a way which would resonate with a Snapchat audience. As a result they drove 5,500 new Snapchat followers on the day of the game and more than 100,000 snap views.

In a more socially conscious campaign, animal charity WWF (Danish branch) made a clever spin on the finite nature of Snaps to show how quickly it takes for an endangered species to be extinct forever. In creating their #lastselfie ads feature one of five different endangered animals, they each asked “Don’t let this be my #lastselfie.”. With it, the charity encouraged users to raise awareness to their friends on Snapchat.


Any social marketer knows how any community will respond to a freebie or a chance to win something. And Snapchat is no different. In fact, A pro tip – make sure that you

Mondelez is running a Snapchat contest where the winner can win $10,000 by snapping a photo of a TimeOut chocolate bar, modify it using Snapchat, and send it to TIMEOUTAU. See the latest creations on its website.


Paid Promotions

If you’ve got the budget, you can always use Snapchat’s paid opportunities for brands like some of these examples (if you want us to discuss how best to use Snapchat drop us an email [email protected]).
In 2015 McDonalds were the first brand to test out sponsored geo-filters where fans could decorate their Snapchat posts with illustrations of cheeseburgers and fries, along with other options.


Fox Studios was the first advertiser to buy Snapchat’s sponsored lenses for Halloween. Fox were promoting “The Peanuts Movie,” the upcoming Charlie Brown film. Fox also bought to sponsored geofilters for the film.

peanuts snapchat campaign

And finally, let’s round things off with Arnold Schwarzenegger… To promote the film Terminator Genysis the film studio created a Snapchat geo-filter which was available in cinemas across the USA.
Terminator Snapchat


What has your experiences been with Snapchat? And are there any other areas you’d like future Snapchat-related posts to focus on? Let me know in the comments…

Jan 29th, 2016 - 10 mins read