A marketing guide to Snapchat

If you’re wondering whether the visual social app is right for your campaign efforts, consider these aspects of the platform and how young consumers are using it.

Snapchat has a reputation as a precocious child in the social media world.

Launched a little over five years ago, it has grown significantly, justifiably catching the attention of the big players in business.

Millennials (born early 1980s) and Gen Z (born mid-1990s) favor the app for messaging and chatting with friends. As of 2015, it had about 200 million active monthly users, 60 percent of whom take 400 million snaps a day. As of August 2015, about three-quarters of Snapchat users were buying products online, providing marketers with a good platform for sales and business development.

RELATED: How to attract—and keep—a millennial workforce

Millennials and Gen Z are notoriously difficult to engage using traditional media channels. Given the level of engagement Snapchat elicits in this demographic, it would be foolish for anyone in business to ignore its potential.

What you should know about Snapchat

Snapchat is a free, downloadable messaging app for sharing photos, videos and text messages called snaps.

What distinguishes this app from others is that posted content quickly self-destructs.

Anything you send to selected friends and contacts has a shelf life of 10 seconds (you can keep it shorter than that if you want) once the recipient views it. Once it expires, it disappears. It does leave sender details behind to tantalize the recipient, but that’s it.

Yes, its main attraction is its ephemeral nature, which is attractive to young people who choose to live in the moment. Because snaps disappear after 10 seconds, users can send anything they want without fear of leaving a record.

The statistics of the app’s market share will give you a good reason why your business ought to be on Snapchat. To illustrate, 18 percent of all social media users in the United States on Snapchat and 45 percent of all active users are ages 18 to 24. At any one time, 30 percent of millennials and Gen Z in the U.S. use Snapchat. For marketers targeting this age group, Snapchat is a must-have.

The temporary nature of Snapchat and its popularity among the younger generation present unique opportunities for business owners in marketing and promotion. It has a number of features that are easy to master. Here’s how to use it to your advantage:

Broadcasting live events

Snapchat is ideal for capturing live events.

It has a feature called Live Stories, with which snapchatters can add their snaps to a Story if they are on location.

If you are hosting an event, coordinating a product launch or attending an exciting sports event, you can share it with your audience in real time by capturing snaps as images or videos, and adding them to your story.

You are giving your audience access to a live event and presenting it from a personal point of view, which is bound to be different from an official broadcast.

Provide exclusive content

If you have incipient offerings or products that have yet to be launched, you can make your audience feel special by sending snaps.

Make your snaps interesting by hiding parts of it, or putting in an intriguing caption. Because the snap disappears after a few seconds, you pique their interest to the extent that they will eagerly wait for your next snap to know more.

It can generate quite a bit of buzz among the FOMO (fear of missing out) generation.

Send coupons, promos and perks

According to a study conducted by marketing firm Sumpto, 77 percent of college students use Snapchat, 58 percent of whom would be more likely to use a coupon sent via Snapchat.

Here again, you have a FOMO vibe going, creating a sense of urgency among recipients to take action. Use Snapchat to offer promos, and you have a good chance of snagging them.

Give a sneak peek

You can further engage your audience by showing the human side of your brand.

Take them behind the curtains, so to speak, and show them the fun side of doing business. Send snaps of company outings, birthdays and tours. Show them videos of how you work and what you do. Have fun doing it, and that will be obvious in your snaps.

Team up with influential online voices

Puma’s partnership with Kylie Jenner, for example, puts the shoe brand at the fore of the popular teen’s fans, and the Snapchat campaign makes masterful use of the app’s features.

Though you might not be in a position to get Kylie Jenner, you can still tap the mojo of prominent figures in your niche by sending them your products to try, inviting them to your events or asking their support for community projects. You can even ask them to do a Snapchat takeover, through which they can create stories of their day on your account.

The allure and popularity of Snapchat remain a mystery for many adults, but millennials and Gen Z are all over it. It is spontaneous, authentic and highly relatable.

It is also so easy to use that it makes no sense for you to ignore its potential benefits for marketing and promoting your business.

Joan Selby is an ESL teacher and a content marketer at Edugeeksclub.com. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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