Snapchat: A Marketer’s Guide

By: Skye Stewart, James Wegman, and Ryan Kacenski

Photo credit: "The Ultimate Marketing Guide to Snapchat" by Ross Simmonds:
Photo credit: “The Ultimate Marketing Guide to Snapchat” by Ross Simmonds:                      

Features of Snapchat and what users do there:

Snapchat features include snaps, which are photos and videos sent to other Snapchat users right as they happen. Snaps can only be viewed for ten seconds or less. Special effects can be added to snaps with different filters and lenses, which are special editing features of the app. Stickers can also be added to snaps. Stickers are similar to emojis that iPhone users have. Snaps can be screenshotted (but the sender will be notified of a screenshot of their snap) and replayed. A different feature is chat, where users can talk to other Snapchat users that they are friends with. It also gives users an option to video chat as well. Another feature of Snapchat is stories. According to, “Stories string snaps together to create a narrative that lasts for 24 hours.” Live stories come from Snapchat users in different locations. They also have a feature called Snapcash, which allows users to use the chat feature to give each other money. Debit cards can be linked to Snapchat itself and payments are monitored by Square. Another feature, Discover, allows users to look at companies and different points-of-view. Lastly, a relatively new feature of the app is the Snapcode Selfie, which allows users to create their own Snapchat icon with a selfie of their choice. Along with these features, users can also have friends on the app and earn trophies by getting a high Snapchat score.

Types of activities marketers typically engage in on Snapchat:

Snapchat is great for social media marketing as it gives customers and fan bases access to events and exclusive knowledge such as promotions, product launches, showings, performances, competitions, causes, concerts, conventions, etc. This makes it evident that marketers at any company can use Snapchat for almost any event or anything that they are involved with as a brand. Snapchat enables marketers to think creatively and create footage that their specific target audiences will find fascinating. By using Snapchat, fans are getting a different point-of-view of a company they might like. Some marketers even give out promotion codes to get fans to watch their entire Snapchat stories. Marketers can also use features (some are mentioned above) of Snapchat to market their products and stories. They can create a My Story, which allows businesses to make their own narrative through pictures and videos of anything the company wishes to show off. They can create an Our Story, which allows users to put their own snaps in the live event’s featured story and allows consumers to be part of the fun. They can also take part in Discover, where users are able to find other stories from different companies such as Yahoo, People Magazine, Food Network, CNN, etc. This allows people to see stories from these various websites to stay up to date with current events, promotions, and news. All of these activities work because Snapchat allows users to show private content to people who can’t access it on other devices or if they are unable to attend a special event or participate in a limited-time promotion.

Types of objectives markers might hope to achieve:

For all companies, using Snapchat is all about creating relationships with customers. By using this platform, companies hope to connect with followers to gain a positive response of interest, laughter, and happiness. Selfies of people enjoying an event or product in a happy way shows how fun the company is trying to be. Other companies hope to spread awareness of specific diseases, charities, or tragedies. Lastly, companies think that people will like contributing to a good cause and buying products from a company they can trust for showing human-like personalities, characteristics, and fun.

Metrics a marketer might want to measure:

Companies that plan to use Snapchat should be aware of several factors. They should be aware of the age demographic that their product or service appeals to, what age demographic uses Snapchat, how often people look at stories, the percentage of regular users, area and location of most users, popular brands, cities, trends, etc., and stories viewed per day. All of these metrics will help to best create snaps that target audiences are interested in looking at. These metrics can be combined with the tactics listed below to achieve the most success in using Snapchat as a social media marketing platform.

Tactics that marketers should use:

There are several tactics that marketers could use to better their presence on Snapchat. First, marketers must understand who their target audience is and what information they want to convey to them. Teenagers are different than 30-year-olds, so the information sent to each should be different. People using Snapchat want to be excited and they want to be impressed, so marketers should strategically share with them what is most important, but in a creative way. Second, brands should be using editing features on their Snapchats and stories. Location, digital crayons, and stickers make the company seem human-like and less like a company. This makes the company seem more personable and relatable, almost like fans are interacting and creating a relationship with a real person. Third, Snapchat is meant to be fun and casual, so marketers should stray away from words that are hard to understand. There is no room for long messages and text must be limited, but it should still be entertaining. Marketers can also give product or service teasers. Giving a small preview of a new product will let customers in on a limited-time Snapchat video or photo and give them insight into what the company is doing. This will get customers excited about what is to come with the company they are following. Contests can also get customers excited about a new product, especially when prizes and free giveaways are involved. Marketers should also be sure to put real-life action into Snapchats. It is interesting to see what is going on at a work office, and people actually find it interesting. Behind the scenes footage at an entertaining work place will also make companies and brands seem more personable and relatable. Marketers should also make sure that their company’s voice and mission is being carried out through the messages it sends out to the public. Next, social media marketers should promote their Snapchat accounts on other social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter so fans know exactly where to follow them. Lastly, companies should use screenshots to their advantage. Snapchat lets people know when their Snapchats are screenshotted, so companies can assume that screenshotting means people like their Snapchats. While these are not the only tactics that marketers can use, they are some very important ones.

Brands that have run successful marketing initiatives on SnapChat:

Using many of the tactics mentioned above, many companies have taken to Snapchat and have used it to their advantage. UsTrendy, an online fashion site, has used Snapchat to communicate and engage with customers and, in return, it experienced a sales increase.  Through Snapchat, they featured a lot of their interns and ambassadors showing off new outfits; they had also used it give out promo codes. Another company, a restaurant called Squeeze In, puts their Snapchat QR code on tables, encouraging customers to interact on social media while waiting to eat. Taking a picture of the QR code makes you a follower of a specific company on Snapchat. They also have told customers to screenshot the coupon code at the end of their story, bring the screenshot in, and get a free side. Pie Five Pizza company sent out Snapchats of a special code word written out in different pizza toppings. Customers were told to give the employees the Snapchat code word to receive a $5 pizza. Some bigger companies, such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell, have used famous athletes in their Snapchats to connect with their fans. This works because fans are happy to see that the celebrities they like enjoy the same things they enjoy.

Costs to engage in certain marketing activities:

The best thing about Snapchat is that it can be used for free. Snapchat has a relatively new website that encourages companies to pay for ads within the app, but regardless, Snapchat is making hundreds of thousands of dollars on video sponsorships. Advertisements are attractive on Snapchat because they are vertical and take up the whole screen, but the app can still be used for free, using all of the tactics mentioned above. If a big company is looking to advertise in different ways, Snapchat has reportedly asked large companies for $750,000 a day (they will not officially talk about their ad prices in interviews). Marketers should always remember that Snapchat can be used creatively for free, so there is no need to pay.

Types of marketing activities that do not suit Snapchat:

While there are plenty of activities that suit Snapchat very well, some do not. Marketers should not be using traditional marketing methods on Snapchat. Users are looking for fun and creativity and do not want to see the same message repeated over and over again. If this happens, they will not even open the Snapchats they receive from a certain company. Companies need to keep their fans and customers excited, intrigued, and interested about their products or services. Writing the same message or taking the same pictures everyday will only push people away. Marketers should create a certain voice reflecting this objective and they should own the content they put out for the public to see. They need to be proud of the content in order for fans to keep coming back. Marketers should also not worry about making Snapchats picture-perfect. Snapchat is about catching moments that mean something, almost like journalism in a way. Most people won’t care if the picture is in fantastic quality or not. Lastly, hashtags can be used in messages sent, but they will not be used as a searching tool.


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2 thoughts on “Snapchat: A Marketer’s Guide

  1. Kristen Elizabeth (@baniak_kristen) October 27, 2015 / 6:47 pm

    I really enjoyed reading about Snapchat because as much as my generation uses it everyday, it was interesting to read about the strengths and the marketing perspective on everything. Target audience is important for snapchat users and the marketers definitely can see that as a struggle at times. The new location geotags and different location services on snapchat make it fun for teens and adults to use this application everywhere. The company wants their consumers to laugh, be happy and enjoy this application.


  2. Courtney Aznavoorian (@CourtneyGraceAz) November 30, 2015 / 9:35 pm

    It is interesting how much Snapchat has been improving and gaining popularity recently. I never thought about how it could be used for marketing until recently. There are more and more companies joining Snapchat and making stories for people to see. It is definitely a quicker and more fun way to see how companies work, what they do, and what they sell.


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