**This blog post is a complete guide for how to market yourself, how to build a following and why it’s so important to get on Snapchat right now. Over the last 3 days, I’ve spent a combined 17 hours writing and editing this 5,500 word article using very poor wifi in India. That’s how determined I was to get this fresh content out for you to see. This was a much bigger post than I anticipated, but that’s okay because I am delighted to share my knowledge with you all. In return, I will kindly ask for you to share this with anyone who you think may find it useful and comment with your thoughts/questions below. Also, feel free to follow me @drewbinsky. Thank you 🙂
Snapchat 101: Marketing for Bloggers & Businesses
This article is broken up into the following 12 sections:
2) What is Snapchat?
3) Snapchat Facts
4) Why is it so Effective?
5) Snap “Chats” vs. Snap “Stories” vs. “Live Events”
6) Why Snap “Stories” are Key Marketing for Bloggers
7) Why Live Events are Key Marketing for Businesses
8) How is Snapchat Different than FB, TW and IG?
9) Why Should I use Snapchat?
10) My Own Story: How I got Started
11) What’s the Future for Snapchat?
12) How to Get Started?
13) 7 Tips for Building a Following
You know how people can become Insta-famous these days? Or become a Youtube Sensation?
Well pretty soon, you’ll be adding the word “Snapchat Star” to your vocabulary because that’s where the future is heading with this revolutionary app. (Yes, I just coined the phrase “Snapchat Star” and I will take full credibility for it in the future 😉
That’s the number of active monthly users that Snapchat has. Among these 100+ million users, a total of 700+ million snaps are sent every single day. This number is on pace to reach one billion this month.
Welcome to the year 2015. A year where millennials are turning one year older, getting one year smarter, and becoming one step closer to connecting the world together.
It’s obvious to admit that my generation – us millenials (people born between 1980-2000) are completely hooked on social media. We are obsessed with sharing our life experiences with our friends, just as much as we enjoy stalking the hell out every acquaintance we make in our lives. Did you know that one out of every 4 pageviews on the internet is on Facebook? (cite)
Smartphones are the future.
We live in a time in history when many people spend more time looking at their iPhones screens then at their loved ones. We can’t go out to dinner without “checking in” on Facebook, or Instagramming a photo of our food, or using an obnoxious number of #hashtags to #Tweet about our #epic #sushi #dinner. #yummy. #sushioverload.
We are always on our phones. If we doing have our phone in our pocket, in our purse, or next to our bed for a few hours, then we get anxious. Maybe it’s just me more than others, but I can guarantee that most of you reading this are the same way.
Over 22% of the global population has a smartphone (resource). In America, that number is above 64% (cite). Both you and I know that mobile devices are slowly replacing our big computer screens. It’s happening, and it’s happening fast.
Just last year was the first time in the internet’s history that more online webpages were viewed on mobile devices than PCs (searchenginewatch.com).
When I launched my travel blog in late 2013, I was getting just 34% of my monthly visits from a mobile device. Now that number has increased to 55% in less than 2 years. Can you imagine what it will be like in the next 2 years? 75%?
In addition, other popular social media networks are getting more and more usage from mobile devices. As of February 2015, Facebook brings in 68% of it’s traffic on a mobile device, Twitter is at 86% and Pinterest is a whopping 92%.
And then, there are the Social networks that ONLY run on mobile devices, such as Instagram and Vine. These mobile-based social media applications are becoming the future for how we connect with each other and share our experiences.
Here is a graph of this courtesy of Mashable.com
And now, there’s one more application to add into the equation. Let me introduce to you Snapchat – the fastest growing phone application of 2014 (via Tech Crunch). It’s insanely addicting, amusing and downright fun.
In my eyes, Snapchat is the most revolutionary app that we’ve seen in history, and its user base is growing bigger and more loyal by the minute.
The best part is that it’s still in the beginning stages for marketing purposes, so now is the best time to capitalize and start building a following before it becomes too commercialized.
2) What Exactly is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a photo messaging application where users can take photos and videos, and send them to a controlled audience which usually consists of their friends.
On each photo/video, which are referred to as “snaps,” users can draw pictures with their finger, type words and/or use fun emojis on the screen. Then, after the snap is created, users are able to set a time limit for how long the recipients is able to view them (from 1-10 seconds).
And the kicker to Snapchat – the most crucial feature that sets it apart from any other social media – is that after the recipient views the snap, it is gone forever and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.
This, my friends, means complete privacy.
In other words: your Mom, your uncle Steve and your best friend Suzie can’t see what you’re sending or receiving on Snapchat, unless you specifically choose to send them something. Consider it a more fun version of text messaging. Way more fun.
This might sound hard to believe, but when you really think about it, Snapchat is the closest thing to communicating with each other in real life. Imagine that you are meeting your friends for lunch, or simply talking to your friend on the phone. Once you leave each other and finish the conversation, the information that you discussed is gone, but what happened still remains in your head as memories.
3) Snapchat Facts (as of Jan. 2015)
– It was developed in 2011 by three Stanford students as a school project
– 700+ million snaps and videos are viewed daily
– The company was valued at $10 billion in 2014 (that number is likely doubled by now)
– Over 100 million active monthly users
– 71% of users are under 25 years old
– 77% of U.S. college students use Snapchat daily
– Users are in 130+ countries
– The company was valued at $10 billion.
– The average age of users 15-26 years old, and the majority of users are from the USA.
4) Why is Snap Chat so Effective?
In this section, I am going to lay out 10 reasons why Snapchat has blown up so quickly and why it’s so powerful:
1) It works like a text message – Snaps immediately are sent to the recipients phone and they will receive a notification – Just like a text message, but much it’s more entertaining and fun.
2) You have extreme PRIVACY – Nobody else can see what you’re doing on Snapchat besides yourself. It’s personal. This is perhaps the most attractive feature of the app, because it sets it apart from the other major social media platforms.
3) You don’t need wifi to send snaps – This is crucial especially for us travelers who don’t always have access to strong wifi on the road. You can take as many snaps as you want, and save them on the app to resend when you do have access to wifi. I’ve been doing this in on my current trip in India and it’s been working magically.
4) It’s quick and to the point – There is no bullshit with Snapchat. You send a photo/video, and the recipient views it. No advertisements, no re-Snapping, no sharing. That’s it.
5) It’s fun –Snapchat is a more FUN way to communicate with your friends and followers than just standard texting. The same way that watching videos is more fun than reading blog posts.
6) It’s Customizable – After you take the photo or video, you are able to choose any color and draw freely on the screen with your finger. You also have the option to write up to 31 characters on the screen. Better yet, you can use emojis and put them anywhere on the screen and make them as big or small as you want. There are unlimited options to customize your snaps!
7) Users will Anticipation Your Snaps – If you are somewhat entertaining and creative with your snaps, then people will start looking forward to your next post. Just like Instagram.
8) Photo + Video Option – While photos are nice, videos are much more powerful. You are allowed up to 10 seconds of video to send.
9) It’s addicting – You know how Tinder can be addicting? Yeah, Snapchat has 100 million active monthly users. People who are on it can’t seem to stop (I’m guilty of it too).
10) It’s behind the scenes – My favorite part about Snapchat is that you are essentially filming your life experiences behind the scenes! Nothing is planned or staged. People are seeing content exactly how you are seeing it in real life. It offers an incredibly your viewers a unique perspective, almost as if they are standing next to you.
11) 100% user engagement – When someone is viewing a snapchat, their finger must be touching the screen at all times or the snap will disappear. Therefore, you can be 100% certain that you have the full attention of your viewers when they are opening your snaps. This is unlike Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where users quickly scroll through their newsfeeds and hardly retain anything unless it pops out or catches their eye.
5) Snap “Chats” vs. Snap “Stories” vs “Live Events?’
Knowing the difference between sending a regular Snap “Chat” vs. posting a snap to your Snap “Story” vs. watching a “Live Event” is critical to understand how the app works.
Regular Snap ‘Chat’– These are just photos/videos that you send to only your friends
After you take the photo/video, you will check the box next to all the names of your friends who you wish to send the photo/video to (it can be one friend or it can be one hundred). After the recipient views your snap, it will instantly be deleted from Snapchat’s servers.
Snap Story- This is still created by you, the user, by taking Photos/videos in a timeline and uploading them stitched up together in sequence. Your Story can be viewed by your friends + random “followers” for a period of 24 hours.
Sometime in mid-2014, the Snap “Story” was launched and it is the KEY to building a following. Let me repeat, your Snap Story is the KEY to building a following. It’s the meat and bones of what you will be doing to market yourself, so pay attention very closely.
Basically with Snap Stories, users will still take photos/videos like normal, but they will choose the option to add it to “My Story,” where it becomes stitched together in a timeline to your previous photos/videos “AKA Your Story.” The content in your Snap Story will NOT be deleted immediately after the recipient sees it, but instead, it will stay active for 24 hours before disappearing. So, the recipient can view your story as many times as they want within one full day.
**In the Snapchat settings, there is option to have your story viewed by only “ Your Friends” or publicly viewed by “Everyone.” This is basically a privacy setting just like Instagram has to make your account private or public. You must check the box to show that “Everyone” can view your story otherwise they will be blocked!
Live Events – These are the same concept as Snap Stories, but with many people contributing to the story instead of one user only. Live Events are usually stories of big events currently happening around the world and all users of Snapchat are able to see them, which make them primetime real estate for businesses.
In these Live Events, anyone in attendance of the event is allowed to submit their photos/videos to the thread and only the best/most entertaining snaps will be chosen (by the Snapchat team) and featured on the “Live Event” for every Snapchatter to view around the world. It’s like a conglomeration of random videos taken from people at the event. Live Events usually consist of 20-30 short videos (10 seconds or less).
With “Live Events,” Snapchat users don’t have to specifically follow these events because they will automatically show up on the app, and its their choice whether to view it or not. The “Live Events” disappear away after 24 hours, so you can’t miss out or it’ll be gone! It’s almost like you are carrying around a mini TV in your pocket all day long.
Which is exactly Snapchat’s goal.
Through “Live Events,” Snapchat has ambitious plans to overtake Television.
6) Why Snap “Stories” are KEY Marketing for bloggers
The launch of the “Snap Story” was the biggest game changer in the history of the app.
This is because you are now able to obtain random “followers” who will be able to view all of your “Snap Stories.” Now, you are able to send your snaps to a bigger audience than just your immediate friends. This is the exact same idea as being able to get “followers” on your personal Facebook account as opposed to accepting people’s friend request.
Over 1 billion Snapchat Stories are viewed every day (resource).
Snap Stories offer a VERY interesting and effective way to market your product/service to your target audience by coming up with fun stories. Keep in mind that Snap Stories is still a very new feature – just about one year old – so that’s why it hasn’t yet become commercialized. Now is a perfect time to jump on it.
For example, Audi partnered with The Onion to Snapchat the last Superbowl Live on their Snap Story.
During the game, the two companies sent funny photos with captions of their emotions as the game progressed. Within the 4 hours of the Superbowl game, Audi’s Snapchat followers grew by more than 5,500 people. While this might not sound like a lot to you, remember that this was one of the first marketing atttempts ever on the platform. And those 5,500 are 100% engaged customers. Imagine the potential in the future.
Here is a look at some of the photos in my recent Snap Stories in India, which were viewed by over 200 eyeballs. I try to keep them funny and give people a look behind the scenes of my life in India.
7) Why “Live Events” are KEY Marketing for Businesses
Businesses are just beginning to jump all over Live Events.
In my opinion, viewing “Live Events” on Snapchat is way more entertaining that watching TV because it offers a unique behind the scenes perspective from the snapper’s point of view, and it’s less time consuming.
For example, my alma mater college, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, played in the National Championship game for College basketball yesterday. I am currently in India right now, so I was unable to watch the game on TV. So, I turned to Snapchat and saw that there was a Live Event titled “National Championship NCAA.” Bingo.
This Live Event consisted of videos that were taken by random shapchatters who were actually in attendance of the game. The entire Live Story was about 3 minutes long with about 15-20 short videos, covering the highlights of the game and showed the fans celebrate. There was even people taking snaps in the locker rooms of the players behind the scenes and adding it to the Live Event. Of course, with the influx of snaps trying to be in the Live Event, there is a team on Snapchat who choses the best ones to show.
Having the entire basketball game recapped in 3 minutes on my cell phone, from the perspective of people who were physically at the game, is a revolutionary concept.
It was both entertaining and fun to watch, and a GREAT way to experience the game without watching it on TV. I truly felt like I was at the game as I was watching this Live Event in my fingertips.
Another example of a Live Event was at the Grammy Music Awards a few weeks ago. I was unable to watch the awards on TV, and honestly I didn’t even care to watch it in full, so I just turned to the Live Event on Snapchat and I got much shorter and unique perspective of the event. Most of the snaps were taken of the movie stars backstage and it was really amazing.
With millions of anxious Snapchatters on hand, these Live Events are emerging as primetime marketing spaces for businesses to get noticed.
In fact just now, for the first time ever, I saw a 10 second advertisement for a movie on the Snap Event for the National Championship basketball game. It’s just getting started.
In the past, I’ve also seen Live Stories dedicated to campaigns or raising awareness for something. Like there was one little boy with cancer, and they had a Live Event dedicated to him where people wore the color yellow and
Other examples of Live Events that I’ve seen in the past are:
– The Super Bowl
– St. Patricks Day (from users in Dublin)
– National Australian Day (from users inSydney)
– College Spring Breaks
– LA Life (from random users doing random/cool things in LA)
– Beach Bums (from users the world)
– T.G.I.F. (from users around the world)
– Cricket World Cup (from users in Sydney)
8) How is Snapchat Different than FB, IG, TW, G+ and Pin?
There are 5 major differences that I came up with between Snapchat and the other BIG 5 social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest. (Keep in mind that these will likely change in the near future as Snapchat develops)
1) Snapchat has is no “stream” of content. No photos or videos are automatically displayed publicly in a vertical newsfeed to scroll through. Each snap is viewed individually from each other, and only seen by the user.
2) Snap Stories disappear after 24 hours. Snap Stories nearly act like a live event, because if you miss the story after 1 day, then you’ll never get the chance to see it again. This is perhaps the most exciting part of the app!
3) The Snapchat audience is 100% engaged. You can be completely certain that the recipient is looking at your content, because their finger must be on the screen for the snap to play. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you never know how many people actually saw your stuff or just glanced their eyeballs past it in the busy stream.
4) There are no likes, comments or shares. Once you view the snap, it’s history. You can’t share it publicly with anyone else. It’s 100% private.
5) There is no “search” or “discover” option to find your favorite celebrities or role models. On every other social media, it is extremely easy to find famous people by typing their name in the search bar. Snapchat doesn’t have this option (yet), so it remains exclusive.
9) Why Should I Get on Snapchat?
If you’re still not convinced to use Snapchat to help build your brand, then this section is for you. This is where I turn into a salesman.
The bottom line is this: Marketers need to be where people are paying attention. After all, that’s how us bloggers make money right? The more we build up our readership, the more that companies want to work with us to promote their product/service.
Consider this formula: The more people paying attention to our website => the more attractive we become for marketers =>the more opportunities to work together => more $.
Snapchat works in the same exact way.
“But Drew, my blog readers and target audience aren’t between 15-26 years old and they aren’t from the USA. So, I don’t think Snapchat will be useful for me…”
Not so fast! You might want to rethink that over again.
I do realize that Snapchat is more effective if your followers are American millennials (say between 18-30 years old), because this is the biggest demographic of the app’s users. However, that’s not to say that the app won’t stop going viral around the world. And trust me, it is happening fast.
Snapchat users currently exist in over 135 countries worldwide. Snapchat is the #1 application on the iPhone app store in 13 countries, and #2 in 15 different countries. Additionally, over 50% of smartphone users in Norway have Snapchat installed on their phones (resource).
To give you a better perspective of how much potential Snapchat has, consider this:
Right now as you’re reading this, I consider Snapchat to be in the same stage as Facebook was in 2006, or what Twitter was in 2008 or Instagram in 2012. It’s just getting started. The “boom” is yet to happen.
Just think about the beginning stages of other popular social networks that started in America – like Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, Vine, Tumblr, etc. Each one started off within a small American demographic, and later spread to all corners of the globe. Am I right?
Therefore, it is in your best interest to get on Snapchat immediately, before the HUGE wave hits where everyone and their grandmothers are using it. Get on it before brands start to ruin it.
And if your target audience does happen to be American teenagers and young adults, then consider yourself extra lucky. There is massive potential for you.
But the real question that you might be wondering is this: Can you really make an influence on people’s travel decisions form Snapchat? Can you actually convince people to visit a destination?
The answer is yes, obviously.
Just like big Instagrammers are getting paid BIG BUCKS to go on press trips around the world to help promote other companies, the same thing will happen for upcoming SnapChatStars. But Instagram is just photos, and Snapchat is videos. Which one do you think has more potential to be an effective means for marketing?
This is not my prediction – that future SnapChatStars will soon get paid big bucks to go on press trips. It’s a fact. I know this because it’s already happening.
Some of the top Snapchat Stars are already making up to $100K per week (resource).
Jerome Jarre, Shaun McBride and Chris Carmichael have become the world’s first Snapchat stars, having a combines total of 2 million followers. This trio is earning six-figure paychecks WEEKLY from brands that are trying to build a staying audience on a disappearing medium.
Shaun McBride, better known by his Snapchat name of @Shaundouras, is one of the first big SnapChatStars. He has hundreds of thousands of followers viewing his daily Snap Stories, and as a result, he’s been working with major companies like Disney, Major League Soccer and Taco Bell to help them market.
In this article, I learned that Disney was about to launch their own Snapchat account, so the company paid @Shaundouras a pretty penny to go to the theme park, make a fun Snap Story, and help them get noticed by all his users.
Let me summarize: A guy got paid thousands of dollars to go to Disneyland, take a few video selfies of him on his phone and upload it to Snapchat, and BOOM that was it.
How cool does that sound? Are you convinced yet?
Since I started traveling around India exactly one month ago, I’ve been pushing my Snapchat account and I’ve already had enormous success. I am averaging 10-15 new followers everyday, and I’ve been receiving positive feedback from my fans about my Snap Stories. Some people emailed me and told me that they want to come to India after seeing how much fun I am having! And other random people are starting to send me snapchats in response to my Story. Like this one you see below. I just got it, and it’s amazing.
Furthermore, I am confident that if I can secure several thousand Snapchat followers within the next year, then music festivals will start paying me to attend them and make awesome Snap Stories. Once my followers (of young partiers) view my story and see how much fun I’m having, they will be convinced to buy their ticket and join the fun.
This should all make perfect sense to you. It’s not rocket science.
10) My Story: How I Got Started
I guess you can call me a veteran Snapchat user.
I first downloaded the app when I was in college in 2012. At the time, it was brand spankin’ new and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I initially thought that Snapchat was a way for young guys and girls to sext each with naked photos and videos. And to be honest, that is probably one of the reasons why the app had so much immediate success at the start.
I didn’t use the app much for about a year after I downloaded it. Over time, I gradually jumped on the bandwagon when most of my friends were using it as a fun way to communicate and send photos.
From early 2013 until about a month ago, I was frequently using Snapchat to share clips of my travels to my friends back home. It was the best way for me to stay in touch with them and keep them informed on my journey around the world. Several of my friends have given me positive feedback like how amazing my Snapchats were, and how they felt that they were right there traveling by my side me.
And then, it hit me.
Exactly 4 weeks ago, when I started traveling around India, a light bulb went off in my head.
I had finally realized the potential of this app, and how I can use it to build a massive following all over the world. I realized that Snapchat was (and still is) a brand new concept to most people, and marketers/advertisers haven’t crowded the platform yet.
So just one month ago, I started figuring out how to build a following on Snapchat. Pretty soon, I was having a large amount of random peoples viewing my Snap Stories regularly (in addition to my close friends). In the last 30 days, I’ve been averaging 10-15 new followers per day who view every single snap of mine. That is over 300 new Snapchat followers in my first month of marketing myself, when I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing.
You can below how many eyeballs viewed each snap in my story. This screenshot was taken in the middle of the life-span of the story (24 hours total), so those numbers were even higher before the story disappeared.
By the statistics, my Snapchat following has been growing 8X faster than my email list, which is “so important” according to all of the snarky media heads and bloggers out there. So, I’ve decided to stop putting attention to my email list, and attack Snapchat at full throttle. For some of you, this may sound risky, but for me, it’s exciting as hell. This app has a crazy amount of potential and the ROI that I’m already seeing from it is much higher than trying to build my email list.
11) What’s Next for Snapchat’s Future?
There is no doubt that Snapchat will continue to grow, which means that they are going to make adjustments and add new features in the future. Much like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram did in their beginning stages.
I think that Snapchat’s biggest asset is the personal stress-free user experience, so in my opinion, they would be stupid to change that aspect. I don’t see anybody being able to “like” or “share” snaps in the future, because then the platform would just turn into another version a Facebook.
However, what will likely change is the user being able to see more accurate analytics and insights from your followers.
As of right now, the only two insights that users can get see are:
– how many eyeballs viewed your snaps
– who (if anyone) took a screenshot of your photo/video
In the near future, however, I think that we will be able to see how many “followers” you have, which countries your viewers are coming form, how old they are, and more.
I also think that Snapchat will add new features as they continue to grow. In fact, they just added a new section called “Discover,” in which big media channels and news stations (BBC, Discovery Channel, MTV, ESPN, etc) can share their content. It’s just big media consumption.
12) How to get started?
It’s pretty simple.
Simply download the app, create a username, add your friends from your contact lists, and start sending and receiving snaps. Snapchat knows which people in your contact list have downloaded the app (by signing up with their phone number), so you can choose whether to automatically import your contacts or hand select them one by one.
13) 7 Tips for Building a Following
As of right now, it’s not that easy for people to discover you on Snapchat. There is no re-snap option to “share with your friends,” or there is no “find friends” feature.” It’s much more difficult to build a following on Snapchat the other BIG 5 networks.
But don’t be discouraged just yet. Here are 7 useful tips for building a following on Snapchat.
1) See what others are doing – Watch your favorite personalities and other SnapChatStars. See what they do to engage with their audience. I know all bloggers actively stalk other bloggers in their niche to see what they are doing. I am guilty of this everyday. What is business without competition anyways?
2) Have fun with it – Show people that you like to have fun. If you do this right, then you will create a good experience with everyone.
3) Use your current social media accounts to leverage yourself. Make call-to-actions on all of your accounts. I have been scheduling 1-2 tweets per day telling people to follow my Snapchat. I’ve also been posting Facebook posts statuses it, and asking people to follow me at the bottom of every Instagram post.
4) Be creative – Think about your Snap Stories in a linear sense, because people will be viewing your content in the same order that you took the snaps. Decide on which type of story you want to share, whether it be a long narrative from a sporting event, or short fun photos of your everyday life, or videos of you dancing to EDM at a nightclub.
5) Be consistent – try to get feedback from your fans and keep your “style” the same. This same strategy applies for Instagram. If you just upload a bunch of random things at random times, then people won’t know what to expect.
6) Just be yourself – If you just be yourself and don’t try to hard to put on a show, then people will and become more attracted and start to spread the world to their friends. If you are entertaining and are doing cool shit, then you will get followers. Trust me, it has been happening to me and it can happen to you, too. Be normal.
7) Think outside the box. Remember the guy I told you about named Shaun McBride with a huge following? He is a master at this.
In a recent Snap Story, Shaun created a Jurasnap Park, playing off of Jurassic Park, full of all of his friends. He invited his followers to take a selfie, draw themselves into a dinosaur and send it back to him. Then, Shaun took screenshots of his favorites and reposted all the dinosaur snaps of his fans on Twitter for the world to see. This was VERY smart because his fans now felt involved because it was a group project, rather than a project he just did on his own. I saw the story on this article.
So what do you say? Do you want to be the next SnapChatStar with me?
Thanks for reading! Please comment with your thoughts, questions and concerns below.
If you enjoyed this post, then you might like my other posts where I give my Social Media Advice.
Don’t forget to follow me on Snapchat @drewbinsky!