How to Engage Your Followers With Snapchat

One of the biggest challenges for brands and social media marketing is engaging with users in a way that is authentic and genuine. As popular social media platforms grow, they eventually roll out paid advertising, which is a great way to reach a wide audience, but it isn't going to score many points with authenticity. Whether it's Google, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, paid ads are some of the least engaged content in social media.

According to Forbes, paid advertising on social media is a waste of money because click-through rates are less than 1 percent. Because of these stats, many small businesses are exploring new platforms to engage prospective customers. For example, Vine, the video platform by Twitter, saw some success from brands like Lowes, Gap and Volkswagen; however, Snapchat is the new frontier for social media marketing.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo and video messaging app that sends temporary snaps, or pictures, that last 10 seconds or less before they self-delete. The app started as a simple peer-to-peer service in 2011, but developed into much more over the years.

Now, users can post what are called "stories," or series of snaps for friends or even the public to see. Snapchat HQ often puts some of these stories together to represent different cities, festivals and noteworthy events. Snapchat seems to be the right pace for millennials, who prefer short, instant information and would rather get updates from a smartwatch than a computer screen. Today, Snapchat is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world and sits in the company of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Be Discoverable

Snapchat already has a section of its app where brands can post content, called Discover. Companies like ESPN, CNN, HBO and National Geographic have their own channels where they can post pictures, videos and articles for users to navigate through similar snap stories. There isn't a place here for small businesses just yet, but it is a sign of Snapchat's intentions to open up to more brands in the future.

Tell Your Story

Snapchat Stories is the place where anyone can make a name for themselves, from big brands to small businesses. Take a page from some of these companies who are using Snapchat to the fullest:

  • Taco Bell: The Tex Mex giant knows social media well. It's very active on Twitter and is always playing jokes, making fun of itself and others. Taco Bell recently joined Snapchat to exclusively announce the return of the beefy crunch burrito.
  • New Orleans Saints: The NFL and its teams are heavily involved with social media, and the Saints use Snapchat to send out videos of players, game clips, behind-the-scenes footage and special offers for fans they can't see anywhere else.
  • McDonald's: Like the Saints, McDonald's uses Snapchat to show more of its involvement with endorsed athletes like LeBron James through behind-the-scenes images, commercial shoots and press events. This is a good example of a company sharing its culture rather than its products.
  • Rebecca Minkoff: Snapchat is the perfect place for a fashion label to show short clips of the latest styles and fashion shows. Followers get a quick glimpse at the latest wear teased through this Snapchat channel.
  • Heineken: The popular brewer follows McDonald's lead and focuses on the culture of its brand. It had a good presence at this year's Coachella music festival and sent out snaps covering the event.
Will Nesbit