9 Benefits of Snapchat for Business

Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app whose functionality has been "copied" by Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, has captured the time and attention of 18-34 year olds in incredible fashion with an average 18 visits to Snapchat each day.

Should your business jump in and take advantage of this opportunity?

While there have been some brands and enterprises leveraging Snapchat to engage business audiences, of course, many others are hesitant to add yet another network to their already long list of social media marketing responsibilities. The good news is that it's a pretty low-commitment network. Let's take a look.



1. No Stale Profiles
Early advice for businesses just getting started with Facebook was to make sure to post to profiles regularly. Failing to post regularly could mean that a person arriving at a profile that hasn't been updated in weeks, months or years (if at all) would likely leave rather than choosing to Like the Page. 

With Snapchat, however, there is no profile to review before choosing to become "friends" with a contact or company. Thus, the frequency at which one posts can completely be controlled by the marketer - choosing to post when they have something worthy of sharing versus feeling the need to always post (creating a more authentic experience for both parties).

2. Better Reach
While there is no doubt some ranking system at work, a company's Snaps will get seen by those who choose to follow them or seek them out (Snaps can be public). Organic reach is a true benefit of these "younger" social media networks versus Facebook where business posts get pushed down in the News Feed or not shown at all.

3. An Inner Circle
For many Snapchat users, their friends list is much, much smaller on that app versus other networks. Since the audience base is younger, the people who they interact with on Snapchat are likely close friends and peers versus family members and parents. In other words, they will post pictures and videos to Snapchat that they would not post to other networks - partly because their friends list is more fine-tuned and because Snaps will disappear anyway. 

Brands that are able to grow their following on Snapchat can benefit from being in that "inner circle" - with the end result being followers feeling a closer connection to that company. What's more, since Snapchat has a less-formal environment, brands can methodically "let their hair down" and earn the trust of audiences.

4. Our Story 
While its parent company, Snap Inc., positions itself as a camera company primarily, Snapchat is becoming more and more of a location-based service. For example, users can add to a community narrative by submitting their Snaps to "Our Story" (grouped together with other Snaps from the same location, event or about the same topic) to appear in Snap Map or in Search. Snap Map shows users' Snaps from across the world (when they enable this feature) and Search allows users to type in something they are interested in.

The benefit of Our Story is that brands do not have to be overly active on Snapchat to be able to add to a community narrative. One well-timed and well-placed photo or short video could do wonders for brand awareness. 

5. The Chat Service
SEC filings state that, on average, more than 60 percent of Snapchat's DAUs use its Chat Service every day to send Snaps and talk with friends. Thanks to the chat service, Snapchat indicates that it benefits from the frequency with which its user base communicates with one another "because each message invites a user back to the application when they receive a push notification."

For businesses, this means that audiences have compelling reasons to return to Snapchat multiple times a day - increasing the chance their Snaps will be reviewed.


6. Relevance 
While regulated industries (financial, health) must be hyper-careful about what they post to social media (even when it disappears after a day), there is something to be said of companies that take a chance on channels younger audiences enjoy. Since consumer interest shifts rapidly, it can be difficult for brands to stay relevant but Snapchat is a quick and easy way to do so.

7. Engaging Ads
Unlike Facebook, there isn't a dire need to advertise on Snapchat (perhaps because its algorithms do not seem to be forcing businesses in that direction... yet). Still, savvy brands are using paid options to reach more people. Snapchat offers a few different advertising options such as Sponsored Creative Tools (Sponsored Lenses, Sponsored Geofilters) and Snap Ads with Attachments (allowing users to directly respond to an ad - like watch more content or take an action - without leaving the Snapchat app). As far as delivery, Snapchat states that it shows advertisements it thinks will be relevant to each user. 

"Our advertising delivery framework is designed to optimize relevance across the entire platform, decreasing the number of wasted impressions and improving the advertising shown to our community."

8. Snapcodes
Similar to QR codes, businesses can create a Snapcode (image #1 on the left) that will send users to a URL destination when a photo/Snap is taken of it in Snapchat (image #2 on the right).

Snapcodes are somewhat good news for businesses that are rightfully worried about the very few opportunities to drive website traffic from newer apps like Snapchat (considering Facebook is a top traffic source for many companies).

The problem is that these Snapcodes, like QR codes, will mostly be used to get people from marketing collateral (e.g., landing pages, print material) to a site. The only real way to use Snapcodes in Snapchat is to have two phones, which is unlikely and clunky (one phone that displays the Snapcode and one phone that can Snap). There is also a slim chance that users will save a Snapcode to their camera roll, upload it to use as a Snap and then follow through to a website - unless there is an extremely motivating reason to do so. One reason users may be compelled to share a Snapcode in their Stories is to become part of a promotion but tracking at this point will prove difficult.  
9. Defensive Registration
If none of these benefits are compelling enough for your company to join Snapchat, consider signing up just to secure your company name before someone else does. Currently, businesses sign up like the average user. (Word from experience, make sure to put your first and last name as the company name versus your personal name because it takes a while for that change to take effect.) Like Instagram did recently, however, there could come a time when users can switch to a business account for added benefits (like analytics).

At this point, Snapchat for business is easy to get started and very low maintenance to manage. While it might not make sense for companies with older target audiences to join Snapchat, the rest of us can get started with very little risk. One word of caution, however, is that similar to how Instagram used to be, there is no way to switch from a personal account to a business account and back without signing in and out. This was a hassle when Instagram did not offer a quick way to switch and social media managers should be very aware of what account they are posting to before submitting a Story.

As with all social networks, a responsible and trusted member of the team should feel empowered to post to the accounts they manage at-will but some general guidelines should be discussed and documented.