Snapchat to It!

Don’t miss the boat on the hottest social network of the year

Ask a room full of social media marketing experts what the next big social network will be, and they’re likely to say the same thing—Snapchat. 

The 5-year-old photo-and-video messaging app, which boasts a valuation of around $16 billion, was the fastest-growing social network of 2015, according to a Piper Jaffray survey. 

The platform is also one of the most versatile social networks ever created, offering marketers the ability to marry videos and photos with type and original artwork, then easily share content created in the app to other social sites. 

“The coolest thing about Snapchat is that you can do almost anything with it,” says Mark Kaye, a Snapchat consultant based in Jacksonville, Fla. “You can take a picture of a piece of jewelry, draw a big heart around it, and add type to the bottom—anything you want. It really allows you to be creative.” 

It’s also where young consumers are congregating. The company reported in 2015 that it expects to hit 7 billion daily video views during peak usage times in 2016. That’s a lot of young, engaged eyeballs.

The network was initially famous for letting users post content that disappeared after a few seconds—which is still Snapchat’s signature functionality. The app became a must for companies last year when it instituted the Stories feature, letting you build a timeline-style account of an event—which then lives on the app for 24 hours and can be downloaded and shared. 

Big and small brands—including jewelry imprints Alex and Ani, Jennifer Fisher, BaubleBar, and Nialaya—have already set up shop on the channel. But there’s still time to be an early adopter. “We’re still at the beginning of Snapchat going mainstream,” Kaye says. “Start now and you can make a huge splash.”

Here are some tips to get you, and your business, snapping:

Study Up

Retailers new to Snapchat will find the learning curve is a little steeper than that of other major networks. So once you start posting “snaps,” start simply, and keep your brand’s identity in mind. “Snapchat is fun and colorful and flashy,” Kaye says. “You’re going to think you’re Picasso for a few days [with the drawing tools], and you’re not,” he adds with a laugh. Look at how great snappers are doing it. And above all, “Don’t try to change what you do to fit the app.… It’s a new medium to showcase what you already do.”

Be a Storyteller

“Stories are really the best kind of content on Snapchat,” Kaye says. And they’re built and edited as you go, which means there’s no fiddling around with editing software and/or photo filters. What to feature? Anything that propels your brand forward. Jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher has shared Snapchat Stories of personal dinners and events, while BaubleBar has used Stories to host contests. 

Go All In

Snapchat is most effective as a marketing tool if used often, experts say. “A company needs to have interesting, clever content posted daily” to net a following, says Jen Cullen Williams, managing director of Luxury Brand Group, based in Los Angeles. So before you dive in, think about how to best allocate company resources to building content and engagement on the app. Outsourcing the job may not be ideal, warns Williams. “Snapchat needs to be managed internally to give a behind-the-scenes, unfiltered, authentic look into the brand.”


(Carey Shaw/Stocksy)