6 Ways Small Businesses Should Use Snapchat

Originally published on SocialMediaWeek.org on April 26, 2016 By Tina Shakour
6 Ways Small Businesses Should Use Snapchat
Once you have a plan on communicating that you are entering the exciting world of Snapchat, here are a few ways a small business can leverage it.
Snapchat is increasingly becoming the platform to be on in social media marketing these days, but in reality — it has some big limitations for small businesses. It is expensive and nearly impossible to advertise via the “Discover” channels, and you can’t embed a link for clicking. By the way, measuring results in an ephemeral platform is problematic by definition.
That being said: there are some great reasons to be on Snapchat.
Recently I was speaking to a friend who owns a small business and she was convinced by her cousins that Snapchat was just for the goofy face filters. (Which, by the way, are seriously fun. But that incredibly fantastic, amazing face recognition software is just one aspect of Snapchat.
Before you launch your business full scale on Snapchat, play around on the platform for a bit. Learn the tricks and tips – there is a good guide here. Then have a plan for how you will tell your audience you are on Snapchat.
It is not quite searchable, unlike most other social media sites, so you need to think about how you will tell people to find you and follow (one easy way to share your Snapchat info with others is via your unique Snapcode).
Once you have a plan on communicating that you are entering the exciting world of Snapchat, here are a few ways a small business can leverage it.
1. Flash sales
By nature, Snapchat is ephemeral. If you are having a flash sale in a retail location or online, a snap sent to “My Story” will let your followers know right away. If your follower base is small, consider sending it directly to all your fans – but be aware this may come across as too spammy. Judge your audience and when in doubt, try with a small group first.
Be sure to give your audience a reason to care, such as a special promotion only available through Snapchat or a special discount exclusive to your followers on Snapchat. (I know people will forward the code to their friends, but email has that risk too.)
2. Events
Get buzz around your event with an On-Demand Geo-Filter. You can learn how to easily create one here. Be sure to advertise with signage at the event that you have a geo-filter available! You pay not by the use, but by the coverage area and days – so make the most of it.
While snaps technically disappear after being viewed, every savvy Snapchat user knows how to save the original photo to the camera roll or screen capture a snap from a friend. This allows the original geo-filter to show up in other social media platforms if shared.
3. Behind the Scenes
One of the most endearing features of Snapchat is the feeling of authenticity. Videos and photos are gone quickly so there is no need to make it your most polished product. Show your audience what your day looks like – if you are a baker, show them a few seconds of your morning process. If you are a dog walker, share the pups you are walking.
If you are a maker, show us just how hard that specific piece was to make. The best place to share these are in My Story – and keep them coming. Try to share daily, but if you can share at least three times a week, that’s a great start.
4. Feedback and Pop-Quizzes
The makers of the world are the best I’ve seen at this. A video on My Story that asks “What am I making today?” is always intriguing. The platform encourages the viewer to swipe to chat, so be responsive if you are getting engagement! With the on-screen drawing tools you can ask people questions and ask them to chat you their response. Be sure to share those results after the fact!
5. Product Demos
If your business has tangible products, you can give followers an up-close and personal demonstration of products, and reveal any unknown facts or interesting stories that the public may not know about. Consider it a private tour of your business and products, and explain in your Snaps (videos preferred) the backstory to a feature, idea, or inspiration you had.
You can also use Snapchat for troubleshooting. Perhaps there is a way for you to take the FAQ section of your website, or any commonly asked inquiry you get from customers, and address those in a video. At the end of the day, you’re providing value and possibly entertainment as well.
6. Collaborate with Nearby Businesses
If you’re located near other small business, ask them if they’d like to be featured on your Snapchat channel. You could ask for them to promote themselves and your Snapchat account via their owned channels as a way for both businesses to gain exposure. Think of it like two YouTube stars who appear in each others’ videos. It’s another way to introduce your brand to a new audience, and in turn, gain new followers and eyeballs.
Overall, aim to have fun with Snapchat. Its strength lies in creating fun moments for your audience and raising your brand awareness. Today, it really cannot be measured by typical marketing measurements such as impressions, mentions, click-throughs (there is NO click-through ability), net-new-leads, and so on. However, it can be used to measure a new marketing metric: engagement with your brand.
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Tina Shakour
I help companies – large or small – solve their big problems by using the digital world to get measurable awareness and attention for their brand. I started my career as an engineer and today that technical background has helped me advocate for companies and to reach their audience. I also help non-profits find their way through the digital experience and to reach their fund-raising goals. As a woman in tech and former engineer, I also advocate for the role in educating boys and girls in STEM and mentor with the US State Department TechWomen program. I grew up in the Midwest but I am thrilled to live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my amazing husband and our spoiled Shiba Inus.