As a content creator, whether a brand or blogger, the idea that your preferred social network or content platform could go kaput at any second should keep you up at night. Success on social media is increasingly strategic; you can’t just churn out rubbish to see what sticks. Instead, you need to focus on the most important aspects of building and maintaining a social following — the real-life people you are creating content for.
The guide will run you through the ins and outs of Snapchat and how you can use it to ‘find your voice’ and build an audience of loyal fans who will follow you wherever you go.
Snapchat as a platformTo an outsider, Snapchat can seem like it is targeted at a very young demographic, but this is not necessarily the case.
The average age range of Snapchat users spans from ages 11-34 with 41% of users being in the 18-24 category. This group, made up of Gen Y and Millennials, are renowned for being ‘digital natives,’ and they communicate and disseminate online information differently to their Gen X, and older, counterparts.
Without trying to sound patronizing, these audiences have short attention spans. But that doesn’t mean to say the content they enjoy is vapid. Snapchat may have funny filters and be light-hearted in its delivery, but its impact has been taken very seriously as of late, with the likes of the New York Times gathering journalists together to collaborate on Snapchat stories.
The true stars of SnapchatA unique aspect of Snapchat as a platform is the immediacy and perishability of the medium. Your story disappears within 24 hours, and so viewers consume the content knowing that if they do not pay close attention, they could miss out on the message forever. This affords major Snapchat stars like DJ Khaled the opportunity to offer his audience something compelling: his frank and authentic perspective on life.
DJ Khaled’s example should be the aim of every content creator and brand looking to build a following. You must be honest to find relatable ways to tell your story. Whether you do it in a 2,000-word blog post or a 10-second video, audiences want to see the real you. The advantage of telling your story through an app like Snapchat or Instagram is you can update people quickly and frequently and best of all, snapping can be a lot of fun.
Creating a content planBehind the scenes glimpses, live feeds (also possible through Periscope), and product demonstrations are just a few ideas for Snap content.
The aim of your Snapchat campaign should be to clarify a key central ‘idea’ and find ways to ‘storyboard it’ before you begin to produce content.
For instance, if you’re a fitness blogger looking to promote your 30-day training plan, play out the plan through your Snapchat account. Start from day one with a healthy breakfast, interspersed with shots from your workout sessions. Don’t forget to talk up the benefits on a water-break clip and show your audience step-by-step how the plan works from an insider’s perspective. Not every snap has to have a sale plug included within it — all you must do is make sure your story is compelling enough for viewers to open each snap.
Remember, many people use Snapchat as an ‘escape’ from the conventional advertising messages found on other platforms. They are there to communicate with their friends over private and public messaging, so in-keeping, I would recommend using a sales message within about every 10th Snapchat post as a starting point.
Utilizing the platform’s toolsUse shortened links - To make your sales messages useful, you will need to think creatively as time is of the essence. The platform now enables outbound links, but you will still need to create shortened links that can be read and typed into a browser.
Save your stories - If you want to create a Snapchat story that spans around two minutes in its entirety, make sure that you save this to your story and download it for future use. Through the Story settings you can condense these posts into one video and post them to YouTube, Instagram, or any other preferred networks.
Leverage your current fanbase - If you’re just starting out with the platform, leverage your existing following on other networks as much as you can. Create a Snap Code for your account and post it as your profile picture on other accounts. This will allow your followers to take a picture of the QR codes through their app and add you instantly. Put these links out to your email lists and include them on printed brochures and even packaging if you can.
Offer your viewers an exclusive dealMany marketers have been put off by the newer networks like Snapchat because the ROI is hard to calculate due to the perishable nature of the content. 10 seconds can certainly be enough to convince someone to buy, you just need to learn how to track performance differently.
Through shortened URLs, for instance, you can use ‘flash sales’ to drive traffic to your online storefront. Set these exclusive sales up under a unique URL and you will know that the shoppers used Snapchat to find you. Alternatively, you can create a unique voucher code to run through your ecommerce store that will tell you where your buyers converted.
Don’t forget to have funAside from being relatable and offering your followers something of real value through your content, you should also remember that Snapchat is a light-hearted platform and there are plenty of ways to have fun with it.
For instance: it is possible to use two filters at once if you select one, say a color filter, hold your finger down to ‘lock’ it, and then use another finger to swipe in another filter to place on top. This is a little Snapchat hack users have picked up on over the years, and there are plenty more where that came from...
Snap hacks to try:
- You can extend the colors in the drawing tool to include the whole color spectrum by dragging out your finger on the screen when you’ve selected a shade.
- If you’re a budding artist, play with the drawing tool as much as you can, creating the perfect overlays for your images.
- Shoot in mute — you don’t always need sound or words. In fact, it can get annoying to hear loud background music at an event or even quiet static background noise if you’re shooting from home. Play around with captions or even make a silent movie reel.
- Geo filters are a cool feature that can be utilized by bloggers and brands effectively. If you turn on location services through the app, you can pull up many overlay filters based on your current location. If you find yourself in a place that has none, consider designing and submitting them to the platform creators so you can get your name on the map.
Find an account with a high following and get in touch with a sponsorship opportunity. Make sure that your brand aligns with their values because, from the influencer’s perspective, they need to come across as relatable to maintain their follower count. Allow them to take full creative control with how they choose to promote your brand.
Snapchat is an exciting platform for budding content creators looking to build a following, and it’s perfect for visual content mavericks. However, do remember that internet audiences are fickle creatures — the content needs to constantly come back to your core audience needs. If you remain focused on being yourself and meeting your audience’s needs at all times, experimenting with different methods of storytelling should bring you awesome content results
Victoria Greene is branding consultant and blogger who is heavily addicted to Snapchat filters. She blogs over at Victoria Ecommerce where she regularly gives her readers tips on building up a loyal following online and on social media.