Should Your Small Business Embrace Snapchat?

Snapchat is the newest social media trend. Learn about which kind of businesses should embrace it and why.
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However, if your business’ target audience is the millennial crowd, then Snapchat could help your business. (Photo: Maurizio Pesce/Flickr)

You’ve probably heard about Snapchat, but you might not understand how it works or how your small business can use it effectively. Snapchat is an image and video-messaging platform that allows you to share real-time images or video clips with current or potential customers.

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Download the Snapchat app on your smartphone or tablet. (Photo: Bethanne Black)

Snapchat is an excellent tool for real-time social media marketing because it gives audiences direct access to live events.“Snapchat is perfect for introducing your business’ concept, trade shows, or one-of-a-kind events such as the 1,000th customer to shop in your store,” said Olya Ryabinina, Digital Specialist at LEVICK, a public relations and strategic communications firm.

There are two important questions every small business should ask before they start to snap, Ryabinina said.

  • Does your small business’ target audience fall in the 13-37 age range, which makes up 86% of Snapchat’s user base?
  • Is your business able to create content exclusively for Snapchat, or will your Snap story mirror your other social media feeds?

If your business doesn’t target millennials and younger age groups, Snapchat probably isn’t the right platform for you. However, if your business’ target audience is the millennial crowd, you’ll need the time and resources to continually create exclusive content on Snapchat.

Here’s how your business can use Snapchat to attract more customers and increase sales:

  • Learn Snapchat basics

If your business wants to create a presence on Snapchat, get started with these 4 steps, said Ingrid Kibler, Social Media Director of HCK2 Partners.

1) Download the Snapchat app on your smart phone or tablet.
2) Create a username for your business.
3) Post your Snapchat username on your other social media channels to gain Snapchat followers.
4) Start “snapping” content to gain traction.

For more detailed training, this Snapchat tutorial can help.

  • Do some homework

Showcase your business’ personality in a clever and trendy way when snapping content. To do this well, you’ll need to do some homework first. It’s always a good idea to see what other small businesses are doing and follow their lead in a way that makes sense for your company. If your restaurant is introducing new menu items, follow other establishments on Snapchat to see their approach to a similar concept.

  • Use authentic, uncurated, and unique content

Surprise your followers by snapping unique content. “For example, fashion brands have used Snapchat to debut new collections to followers, before they even hit the runway. Such an approach makes consumers feel included in an exclusive world, and creates interest in your products,” Ryabinina said.

  • Engage your audience with giveaways and promotions

“Ask followers to take a snap that features your products,” Ryabinina said. When followers promote your products via Snapchat, reward them with product giveaways or discounts. An example of this would be customers snapping photos of your menu items or seasonal offerings. If they share these photos on social media, reward them with a discount on their next meal, or offer them another incentive.

  • Snap content that highlights your company culture

Include “behind-the-scenes” snaps to make your brand appear more human, Ryabinina said. “Taking snaps of employee birthday parties, a team brainstorm session, or giving a tour of the back office are creative ways to differentiate your brand by showcasing your unique company culture.”

  • Leverage the spontaneous nature of Snapchat

Snapchat is a real-time platform, so use this advantage wisely. “Allowing a celebrity to commandeer your Snapchat always looks more attractive than using other social media platforms, because it comes across as a spontaneous collaboration rather than a planned ad,” Ryabinina said.

  • Keep your customer base in mind

Snapchat works best for B2C (business-to-consumer) businesses, Kibler said. “B2B companies target other professionals, often for higher-level business opportunities. A C-level executive at a major bank who’s looking for an IT services provider wouldn’t look for one on Snapchat.” But, a popular magazine focusing on the latest celebrity gossip will find many readers to entertain on Snapchat, and bring more awareness to their magazine.”

  • Use Snapchat to create buzz

One way a small business can create buzz with Snapchat is to offer contests such as naming a new menu item or giving sneak peeks of a new dessert, if you’re a restaurant owner. “If your business is offering a new product, you can snap teasers and sneak peeks to build buzz. If your company is attending a major event, you can snap real-time tours of the event, interview spokespeople, and more,” Kibler said.

  • Know the limitations of Snapchat analytics

Many social media platforms can give advanced analytics regarding the performance of their posts, according to Kibler. This is how social media marketers know what’s working and what isn’t. “Snapchat, however, has very limited analytics currently, so small business owners can’t expect to garner advanced intelligence from Snapchat at this time.”

  • Use Geofilters to advertise your brand

Geofilters provide an overlay to your snaps that let viewers know where you are, and what you’re doing. The cost of geofilters is determined by square foot of coverage. “After snapping a photo, you can slide through available geofilters from your area and select one to let your audience know where you are and what your brand is up to,” Kibler said.

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