Snapchat isn't just a photo- and video-sharing platform — it's also one of the most effective ways to build and establish relationships with customers. As a small business, adding Snapchat to your social media marketing can help grow your brand with minimal effort.
Businesses everywhere are finding great success using Snapchat as part of their social media marketing strategy. One example is UsTrendy, a popular independent fashion e-commerce site and one of the fastest growing retailers online. The company has experienced 300 percent revenue growth year-to-year, and Snapchat has been a major marketing focus for them, said Sam Sisakhti, founder and CEO of UsTrendy. The secret to their success is incorporating customers into their Snapchat marketing campaigns to do their marketing for them.
"We have had some of our customers and college ambassadors share Snapchat promo codes and outfits of themselves to their friends," Sisakhti said. These Snapchats have gone viral, giving UsTrendy plenty of word-of-mouth exposure to help grow brand recognition. [The Secret to Going Viral: 5 Social Media Tips]
Sales have also significantly increased, thanks in part to Snapchat marketing.
"We have seen some good success," Sisakhti said. "We base it on feedback from our college ambassadors and customers who mentioned they saw us from a Snapchat outfit video from an UsTrendy customer. Sales have definitely been spawned from Snapchat."
Interested in using Snapchat for your small business? Here are three Snapchat marketing strategies you can use for a successful campaign and make the most out of the platform.
1. Be fast and memorable
What makes Snapchat unique — and so successful — is that Snapchats are timed. Unlike other text and multimedia messaging platforms, senders can set a time limit for how long receivers can view photos and videos. This can be anywhere from one to 10 seconds, after which the message self-destructs. Although this feature makes the service more engaging for users, it also means businesses have a very short window of time to capture customers and effectively deliver their message.
"[Snapchat] is a time-sensitive form of communication and not something people can come back to," Sisakhti said. "Marketing on it needs to state the value proposition very quickly, and call to action needs to be simple, easy and memorable."
Some ways this can be done include sending Snapchats to announce flash sales, distribute promo codes and give customers quick inside looks at the company behind the curtains, Sisakhti said. But don't just stick to photos — videos also make very effective promotional tools, especially when time is limited.
"Snapchat marketing is a really creative way to reach your target market through memorable videos," Sisakhti said. "The videos can be done by your company or by your customers to promote your brand for you."
Whichever strategy you use, what's important is making sure you have a very specific and targeted message, Sisakhti emphasized.
2. Get personal
If there's anything businesses need to understand about how customers use Snapchat, it's that Snapchat is supposed to be fun. Don't be afraid to show personality, tell your business's story and make customers feel special with your Snapchats.
"Snapchat is all about one-on-one interaction, making it much more personal and exclusive than Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.," said Gayane Margaryan, online communications associate at the African Wildlife Foundation.
Margaryan suggests playing off the exclusivity aspect to humanize your business and personally engage with customers in the following ways:
- Exclusive sales and events. Tell your valued customers about special sales or events, maybe even going so far as to hold insider events just for these people. For instance, a Snapchat invitation-only tasting or tour of a brewery, a sale at a boutique, an opening, etc.
- Share promotions with your valued customers. For example, one froyo business had a great giveaway where they had customers snap a photo of themselves enjoying the shop's froyo. As a reward, participants received a discount code right back via a Snapchat.
- Preview new products. For example, if you're a restaurant you can preview a new dish you're working on. If you own a clothing store, show them clothing that your store is about to put onto the floor. You can even give customers the opportunity to order or try new items before others can.
- Offer a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Snapchat can be a really valuable way to showcase behind-the-scenes footage via video or photo by allowing your customers to get a sneak peek into your production process if it's particularly interesting, daily insights into life at your business, bringing your customers closer to your business and making them feel a part of the process.
"Exclusivity and one-on-one interaction is the key to Snapchat," Margaryan said. "Ensure that you're able to provide this when you begin engaging on this platform. As with any social media platform, you want to be providing your followers with a unique experience. Take your customers inside your brand, make them feel more connected and valued, and grow their loyalty."
3. Know your audience
Snapchat marketing isn't for everyone. The platform is primarily used by younger generations — a third of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat — making it a powerful marketing channel only if your business caters to younger customers.
"Snapchat can be an effective marketing tool for businesses targeting a younger clientele," said Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of Internet marketing company WebiMax. Businesses can promote specific products, offer discounts and use the Snapchat Stories feature to entice younger audiences to engage in their brand, he added.
Because of this, however, Snapchat isn't worth your time or money if younger generations aren't your target customers — at least not right now.
"For marketers catering to an older demographic, Snapchat isn't going to provide them with the return on investment to make it worthwhile," Wisnefski said. "Of course, there was once a time when Facebook was viewed as a platform for
younger people, and that is certainly no longer the case."
Originally published on Business News Daily.