Snapchat: you’ve probably heard about it, but you may be wondering if it’s useful for your brand, or what the heck it even is. With 188 million global users and 37 million of them in the United States, your target customers (and your competitors) might be using it. But is it something your business should invest time and energy into?

We’ve created this definitive Snapchat guide about what exactly it is, what kinds of business benefits it provides and reasons why your business might want to consider it for influencer marketing campaigns and beyond.

What Is Snapchat?

Launched in 2011, Snapchat is a mobile camera-based social network. Users take photos or videos on their cameras, then upload them as Snaps for editing. Snapchat users can add “filters” to photos or videos, and images and text, that overlay elements on or manipulate elements in the raw footage. They can share the images or videos with friends who are also on the application, from individuals to custom groups. After a photo or video is viewed by a user, it is deleted from the app within 10 seconds of being viewed. One-on-one chat conversations can be saved for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also features texting in its Chat feature, plus voice and video calls with the capability to add up to 15 friends.

Why Does Snapchat Matter?

Snapchat users use the app frequently on a daily basis. Daily active Snapchat users open the app an average of more than 25 times a day and spend an average of more than 30 minutes a day on it. More than 3 billion Snaps are created every day. More than 60 percent of Snapchat users use the app every day.

How Do You Download Snapchat?

Snapchat can be downloaded on Android and iOS devices, through the Google Play store or iTunes store. The application is free to download. To create an account, tap Sign Up, then enter personal information, pick a username and password, and set an email and phone number. You can add friends from contacts or by adding their Snapcode or username. You can create a personal Bitmoji, which is an emoji representation of the user.

How Do You Use Snapchat?

After opening the app, the camera feature appears so users can create content. On the left side of the camera (swipe right) are Snaps shared by a user’s friends. On the right side of the camera (swipe left) is content shared by publishers, advertisers and influencers, which is housed in a “Discover” section. The Discover section features personalized content based on user preferences. There are also navigation buttons on the bottom of the camera.

Snapchat business guideHow Do Snapchat Basic Features Work?

Some basics of Snapchat features are:

  • Video Snaps can be 10 seconds long or less.
  • Snaps can be saved to a Story, which is a collection of photos and videos you want to share with all friends. These disappear within 24 hours of being uploaded.
  • Unopened Snaps disappear after 30 days. Users can also delete the unopened Snaps they’ve sent.
  • Groups can contribute to a Group Story, which enables certain users to contribute Snaps. There are also Geofenced Story features, which enable Snaps to be added to a Story while users are at a specific place.
  • Memories stores Snaps and Stories in a camera roll, which can be accessed and shared later.

Who Are Snapchat’s Demographics?

Out of 18- to 24-year-old Americans, 78 percent used Snapchat as of March 2018, according to Pew Research Center. This percentage for this demographic is higher than Instagram (71 percent) and Twitter (45 percent). According to The Next Web, the majority of Snapchat users are high school and college students or young adults. More than 70 percent of Snapchat users are 34 years old or younger.

Is Snapchat Free?

Yes. The application is free and includes offers for in-app purchases.

What Are Snapchat Features?

Some of Snapchat’s popular features include:

  • Filters, which are frames and artwork that can be added to Snaps and may change depending on holidays, location or time of day
  • Lenses, which are augmented reality experiences for Snaps
  • Personal emoji, which are animated versions of the Snapchat user
  • Stickers, which can be overlaid on raw photo or video footage in the app
  • Special effects, such as transforming user voices and adding day-to-night transitions for photo scenes
  • Snap Map, which shows the user’s location and locations of the user’s friends
  • Ghost Mode, which disables the geolocation feature for the user
  • Snapstreak, which puts a flame icon next to a friend’s name if the users have sent Snaps to each other within 24 hours for 3 consecutive days
  • Geofilter, which adds a location to a Snap

Snapchat business guide

How Do Businesses Use Snapchat?

Some of the ways businesses use Snapchat include:

  • Businesses can use Snaps to stay in touch with customers, share sneak peeks of new products, and share limited-time offers.
  • Publishers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal use Snapchat to share content, which can be found in the app’s Discover section.
  • Filters and Lenses can be customized and created by any individual, business or brand. Some businesses create their own for special events or product launches.
  • Snapchat offers advertising options for businesses, including Snap Ads, Filters and Lenses.
  • The Snap Kit enables developers to integrate Snapchat features across a platform.
  • Businesses can create custom Geofilters to drive awareness to a location or showcase a special event.

What Are Some Snapchat Business Case Studies?

In 2017, Pepsi Canada used Snapchat to create summer-themed Lenses. The Lenses were promoted on Pepsi products and on Pepsi advertising throughout Canada. Users could use specially-created lenses for their Snaps, which also featured Pepsi branding. The campaign was boosted by Snap Ads and reached 8 million Snapchat users.

Alcohol brand Bacardi paired with music group Major Lazer to create a “music video” Lens that used the group’s music with a sponsored Lens. More than 18 million people watched the Lens, resulting in 42 million views in 24 hours. Footage was later included in a music video by the collaborators.

How Does the Snapchat Ads Manager Work?

Like many social media advertising platforms, the Snapchat Ads Manager enables advertisers to:

  • Select an objective: Choose from website traffic, app installations, daily video views and more objectives.
  • Build ad sets: Create ad sets with similar targeting, campaign dates, devices, etc.
  • Build ads: Test multiple ads within a single ad sets to identify effective features.
  • Review and publish: View ads before they’re scheduled.
  • Measure results: Gather data regarding objective goals.

Ads can be created from desktop devices, giving users full visibility and control.

What Are Snapchat Spectacles?

Spectacles are sunglasses created by Snapchat that have a photo and video camera built-in, to capture birds-eye views of scenes by Snapchat users. Spectacles were created in 2016 and were updated in 2018. Ranging from $149 to $199, Spectacles are directly tied to the Snapchat app. To retrieve the footage that is captured by Spectacles, users must open the Snapchat app.

Signs Your Business Should Be on Snapchat

Now that you know the basics of Snapchat, here are some reasons why your business should consider opening and maintaining an account on the social network.

  • You have young users. If your target demographic is teens, young adults and/or millennials, most of them are using Snapchat. They can learn about your business in the Discover section, or they may want to add your business to their friends list after hearing about it from one of their friends on the app.
  • Photo and video promotions are ideal marketing for your business. If you have a business that provides lots of great photo and video content (everything from dining to fashion to sports to shopping), Snapchat is a great way to offer a unique take on your brand.
  • You want to connect with mobile users. Snapchat content, unlike other social networks including Instagram, can only be viewed on mobile devices. If your target audience uses mobile heavily, this might be the network for you.
  • You want to run an influencer marketing campaign with young influencers. The young influencers you’re targeting may use Snapchat as their social media destination of choice. When you’re approaching young influencers for campaigns, you’ll want to have a strong presence on Snapchat so that it’s an option to use in the campaigns.
  • You want to promote a location-based event – or you have a physical location. As mentioned, businesses can use custom Geofilters to promote special events at a location. If you have a brick-and-mortar, you can turn your business into a Geofilter that Snapchat users can share with their networks.

These are just a few reasons why your business might consider creating a Snapchat profile, or dedicating more time to the social network depending on target demographics and special events you might have coming up. Snapchat is constantly adding new features to give businesses more ways to connect with the community and their customers.

Best Practices for Businesses on Snapchat

If you decide Snapchat is right for your business, here are some best practices to follow.

  • Brand your username to match your business and other social media profile usernames to maintain consistency, if possible.
  • Publish content daily to keep users engaged, since content disappears within 24 hours or less.
  • Promote your username on your website, through email marketing and on other social media channels to grow your following.

Even if you don’t use Snapchat advertising to measure campaigns, you can track your Snapchat success by looking at conversions of special offers you share by using unique codes on Snapchat. You can also measure unique views, see how many people took screenshots of your Snaps, see how many users viewed your Story from start to finish, and view Geofilter metrics. If you start Snapping, be sure to track metrics, too, to see if Snapchat is really a good investment for your brand.

Want to learn more about how influencer marketing could work for your business, including Snapchat campaigns? Contact us.