WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

What Is It

SnapChat is a simple mobile messaging app that’s optimized for sending photos or short videos, often including some sort of funny or other short message scrawled across them, to other in a user’s network. These messages expire after a set amount of time, lending some sense of not just immediacy but also privacy to the app’s usage.

Who’s Using It

Snapchat announced in late 2017 it had 173 million daily users and reported 166 million people open the app over 18 times a day along with other demographic information on users, including that over 50% of users are over 25 years of age.

A late-2017 comScore report identified Snapchat as one of the top 10 apps used by people 18-34, though it drops out of that list for older mobile users. An eMarketer forecast at that time showed 24 million of those 18-24 use Snapchat at least once a month, accounting for almost 41% of U.S. social network users.

CREATING AN ACCOUNT

Username/Profile

Account Credentials: Accounts are created using an individual phone number. That number should be of the primary account manager, though other devices can login using that number as well.

Username: Pick a username that’s relevant to the company or brand being represented. This can be in line with usernames on other social networks to reduce confusion and easy discovery. It’s recommended names not be overly clever since they can just be confusing.

Profile Name: On Snapchat this is the same as the username.

Customizing Your Profile

Profile Avatar: There are no graphics or other media needed for the SnapChat profile itself, just for the content that’s shared in Snaps. You can take a selfie that’s shown in the Snapcode to be shared elsewhere that essentially serves as a profile avatar.

Cover Photo: Not applicable.

Account Bio: Not applicable.

Site Link: Not applicable.

Select high-profile accounts are granted the status of “Official Stories,” a form of verification of their authenticity and quality much like Twitter’s Verified User designation. An emoji of the account manager’s choosing is displayed next to Stories from this account to mark it as high-quality. At this time there is no process for applying for verified status.

Building a Following

Snapcodes are images like QR codes that make for easy account discovery and following. Each Snapcode is unique to the account that’s associated with it. The image can be shared via social media or on a website so that when someone points their Snapchat camera at the image it will automatically begin following that account. Snapchat offers a way for customize Snapcodes to add some branding to them without interfering with the code itself. You can also create a profile URL that can be shared online and sent directly to friends.

Following other people and viewing their Snaps is the first step after creating an account. Push notifications can be delivered to a device showing when someone has shared a new Snap. Publishing, viewing and engagement is done through the mobile app.

A 2017 survey found brands had more success in building a following by promoting their profile link on other sites than with Snapcodes.

POSTING AND PUBLISHING

Types of Posts

  • Snaps: Snaps can be an image or a short video (maximum 10 seconds), sent to a user or a group of selected users, and/or shared in a “story.” Before sending either a brief text caption or doodle can be added to the photo. People can also add Lenses, or a kind of graphic that’s overlaid on the image before sending. There are a variety of free Lenses available but a “Lens Store” that has different ones available for $.99 each.
    • Video Snaps: Can include music that’s being played on the device the video is being shot from. So playing music from iTunes, Pandora, Spotify or other player while at the same time shooting video will add that music under the video.
    • Paperclip: A link to a website that will open in Snapchat’s internal browser.
    • Backdrops: The ability to cut out part of a photo and place it against a pre-defined backdrop to add a pop of creativity to the image.
    • Voice Filters: Change the voice in the Snap to something cartoonish and fun.
  • Chat: Two people can have a personal text conversation via SnapChat that would instantly disappear as the two people read each message. If both users are in the chat simultaneously, they can chat face-to-face with live video.
    • Send images during Snap Calls: You have the ability to send images from your camera roll into your chat window. (There’s also a video chat feature now )
  • Replay: Allows a user to replay one snap per day. Users can buy additional replays for $0.99 for a bundle of three.
  • Video notes: Send a 10 second video, looped to resemble a gif, including audio.
  • Stickers: There are now over 200 available. Some even pop up based on what you type in your private chat, like “stress” or “food.”
  • Snapcash: A partnership with Square that allows people to enter their debit card information and easily share payments with a friend via chat.

To share content within Snapchat, publishers can create a custom Snapcode by pasting in the link they want to share. That Snapcode will be saved to the device’s camera roll and can be shared elsewhere as well as being viewable by Snapchat followers.

Content Organization

  • Stories: Can contain a snap or series of snaps, with each snap within the story viewable only for the 24-hour period after which it was first shared. There is no limit to the number of photos or videos that can be added to a story.
    • Auto Advance Stories: Start at the top of your list, and as soon as one story is done, the next one will start.
  • Our Story: Essentially an aggregation feature, one account creates a Story around a particular location/event that anyone who’s physically at that location/event can contribute to.
  • Crowd Surf: Geared toward live events, this scours Stories being posted from concerts and collects footage from individuals into a single performance video.

More brands are active on Stories than on Snapchat proper, likely due to the ability to include multiple story points and arrange them more like a traditional overview.

There’s also Discover, an editorially-driven approach to brand storytelling that uses an in-house editorial team to deliver assets through a collection of photos, videos and more, including advertising. Channels will be available via the “Discover” tab within Snapchat and will be updated with new material daily. Viewers initially see a preview but can swipe down from the preview to dive deeper into the story, swiping left for the next story. There’s no way to share Discover stories on other social media channels, but publishers can include links that take people to an outside site/page. Individuals can also share a Discover story with someone else they’re friends with.

What To Publish

It’s important that Snapchat content be unique. So don’t think of it as being just another outlet for the images or videos you would share on Instagram of Facebook.

Be creative. Have the fun of Snapchat are the doodles or ironic captions that are added to photos.

Remember that Snapchat is primarily an engagement platform and is not designed for conversions to sales, sign-ups or other goals. There are ways around this – including a sale code in a caption for instance – but there’s no way to insert a clickable link.

When to Publish

There are no industry-wide best practices as to the best time to post to Snapchat. Because posting is a manual process that can’t be scheduled in advance, most activity happens during business hours or during special events happening outside that window. The best recommendation is to see when your snaps are receiving the most attention and adjust your individual publishing schedule accordingly.

Contests and Promotions

Snapchat has clear guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to running promotions and contests on the app.

ENGAGEMENT

Audience Engagement

There’s limited Snap engagement that’s offered that essentially begins and ends with replies, which are just Snaps that are sent in response to someone else’s photo/video.

While an unofficial feature that goes against the core tenets of Snapchat, images can be saved by screen-capturing the photo and then sharing on Twitter, Instagram or other networks.

Other Best Practices

Since one of the main purposes of Snapchat is to have a ‘conversation’ via Snap engagement on other people’s Snaps is important. So it’s crucial that someone not only be responsible for pushing content out but they or someone else is responding to other people.

MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING

Apps and Sites You Need

The primary way to access and manage Snapchat is through the official app. There are third-party tools, but Snapchat has cracked down on many of those for taking liberties with user data. The best bet is the official app.

Advertising Options

Snapchat offers an array of advertising options both for Snaps and Stories, designed to achieve different results. In an effort to create a brand-friendly environment, Snapchat allows advertisers to control what kinds of content their ads appear alongside of.

Reporting and Analytics

While initially forsaking metrics, there are now a number of ways publishers can measure the success of their Snapchat efforts:

  • Unique Views: The number of people who have viewed the image or video for at least one second.
  • Screenshots: How many people have saved a screenshot of a Snap to their device’s camera roll.
  • Completion Rates: The number of people who viewed the entire Snap.
  • Fall-off Rate: How many people stopped watching a Snap part of the way through.

Enhanced reporting is available for advertisers.