After becoming Snap, Inc. and going public in March, Snapchat’s parent company has been pushing to make the social media platform friendly for all users, brands, companies and anyone who wants to leverage its creativity. Since inception, the social media platform has grown tremendously, once only allowing photos to be sent back and forth between you and one friend at a time, it now allows you to send video, photos and graphics to friends, groups and even, a personal “story.” The possibilities, which once seemed closed off and limited to scandalous photos between significant others, are now endless, and they just keep growing.
In true Facebook fashion, in the last year, the parent company has pushed Instagram (which it owns) to challenge Snapchat, creating “stories,” “filters,” and “stickers,” almost identical to the atmosphere and set-up of Instagram. For a die-hard social media fan, it can be hard to choose which one is better when both are constantly attempting to one-up each other in a rather childlike battle. As fun as it is to watch the two attempt to “win” the hearts of millions of social media users (which, by the way, Instagram has taken the lead with over 200 million story users daily), for a brand it can be difficult to determine which platform is best to use, and why.
So, how do you decide which one your brand should focus on? Or, should you be on both? I face this struggle day-in and day-out, but with one of Snapchat’s most recent updates (see below: custom Snapchat stories), I’ve come to terms with the fact that Snapchat is the best option for small, local brands/companies that aren’t producing a wealth of written content, but still want to draw in an audience and engage with fans. Why Snapchat? Follow along…
First things first, Snapchat requires minimal copy and leaves almost zero way for a small brand to link to digital content. While this might be problematic for a publication like the New York Times or the Washington Post (though not to fear, they have full reign over the “Discover” section), for a small brand, it’s actually a blessing.
Snapchat offers local brands like bakeries or small art galleries to share their story via videos and photos with consumers that would be most interested. The bigger plus: Since it’s often difficult to find users on Snapchat, those following the organization would likely be local, and truly interested in the content they’re sharing. I follow a few bake shops and even a local bookstore in my area, and I love seeing the day-to-day events happening at the stores as well as some behind-the-scenes footage of a barista fixing a latte or the day’s bread being made. With all of the additional features like bitmojis, stickers, and geofilters, it makes it simple for anyone (even a bakery owner) to pick up their phone and start “snapping” away, without much experience or time. The simplicity, yet interest, that Snapchat brings for local organizations cannot be matched.
Final bonus? Snapchat doesn’t have a wacky algorithm like Instagram, and it won’t hide your posts from those following you. So, you’ll have a niche audience AND they’ll 100% be shown all of your content. Getting them to view and engage with it… that still takes some work.
With its newest updates, Snapchat has opened up geofilters to anyone and everyone that wants to promote their brand or event through an AI lens. Have a summer bash happening at your BBQ restaurant? You can establish a geofilter around the area for potentially less than $100 and have your filter shown to thousands of people.
Do I have to have design experience to create it? That’s the best part. You don’t! You can upload your own design, but you can also use their tools, stickers and design templates to create your own.
For a five-hour window, my job put up a Snapchat geofilter that was graduation-themed and with little to no promotional efforts, we had over 450 view it, 250 use it and over 10.8K people view a photo with the filter applied to it. The results are incredible! People are conditioned by Snapchat to view what filters are available in a given location, and using it at a store or for an event is bound to drive success, and, hopefully, ROI. If you’re a small business, this could bring in new customers and draw in even more interest, without requiring you to produce additional content.
Open Ad Platform
Just last month, Snapchat opened up its ad platform to anyone, removing the need for a third-party service and lowering the overall cost of an ad. This meant smaller entities who didn’t necessarily have the budget or capacity to advertise on the platform could now do so. What does this mean for small, local business? You can now advertise to a small area for a low price (price dependent upon how long you want the ad to run and how many people you wish to show it to). Just like geofilters, you can advertise to a specific geographic region, which makes it easy for businesses that only exist in a specific area or receive most of their customers from a specific geographic region.
For a business that attracts a younger population, Snapchat ads might be the way to go.
Custom Snapchat Stories
The most recent feature of Snapchat, and by far my favorite feature, is custom Snapchat stories. You know those stories that allow you to add to a big event, or a city (read: the New York story, or Graduation, Memorial Day Weekend)? Well, Snapchat has given every user the ability to create their own, and decide who can add to it. While this seems like it could lend itself to a total mess of stories and thousands of options for users to choose from, to me it seems like the perfect opportunity for small brands and businesses.
So, what’s the deal? Users have permissions to create up to three custom stories at a time. You can contribute to as many as you want, but you can only manage three. If your business has a Snapchat account (and you should after reading this article), then you can manage your stories from there. All you have to do is swipe to your stories tab, click the “create +” icon in the top right that says “add story” and then you can name your story. To determine who can add to it, you either invite members of your friends list (you must be following them, they must be following you) or you can set a geofence so anyone within a specific boundary has the ability to contribute. I’m not telling you what to do, but for a small, local business, setting a geofenced story is the perfect way to allow people within your business to contribute to one photo story.
Snapchat might be a bit behind Instagram, but it’s worth looking into if you want to share localized, engaging content with users, without producing a ton of written copy. Give it a try!
Originally published on Marisa Russell’s Syracuse blog.