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The Ultimate Guide to Snapchat: The Latest Social Technology Tool

Direct Mail Copywriting & Graphic Design

Ultimate Guide To Snapchat Summary

Snapchat is the latest addition to the social media technology family that allows you to connect with other users through a series of pictures and videos that you create. Each photo or video that you send out is known as a snap, and each snap lasts for up to 10 seconds before it disappears. Within that 10-second timeframe, your followers can capture screenshots of the media. Our Ultimate Guide To Snapchat Marketing will show you how this can benefit your business.

Snapchat for Business

How Snapchat Works

Your Snapchat Strategy

What is a Snapchat Story?

Snapchat Discover

Getting New Snapchat Followers

Interacting with Your Audience

Creating Interesting Images



Snapchat for Business

Our ultimate guide to snapchat marketing will help your business

You should consider adding Snapchat to the social media toolkit that your business uses on a regular basis. It provides you with a great opportunity to increase brand awareness and engage more frequently with your target audience.

Create innovative marketing campaigns that allow your customers to experience your products and services in a refreshing new way. Through the creating of snaps, you can generate an interest in your product or service while working to attract the attention of consumers who may not have prior knowledge of your brand or what your company has to offer. Snapchat gives you the opportunity to run a global marketing campaign across one of the fastest-growing social networks.


Setting Up Your Snapchat Account

Your first step is to download the application to your smartphone or tablet, create a new account and make a user ID that will allow other users to locate your account. Select a profile image that appears inside the yellow ghost icon on the main page of your account. You want to make sure that the settings reflect giving everyone permission to send you snaps and view the snaps that you create. Failure to have these settings in place will make for a quiet and lonely Snapchat newsfeed.


Using Your Snapchat Account

Each time you open the application after this point, it will have a camera view presentation. You can access your profile page by tapping the ghost icon that appears at the top of the screen. This brings you to the main profile screen where you can see friends that you add, friends that add you and your list of contacts that you can create using a smartphone address book. As you scroll through the list of users who added you to their Snapchat, you have the option to swipe left on any user that you wish to ignore or want to block from your account.

On the bottom left-hand corner of the camera view presentation screen, there is a square containing a number. That number indicates how many new snaps are available for you to view.

To view this information, tap on it or swipe left to access the snaps, direct messages and the search feature of the application. At times, that square may not have numbers, which indicates that there are currently no new snaps waiting for you.

The camera view presentation screen also features three lines in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Those lines will feature a plus sign, +, when there are new stories from people that you follow available. To access this information, just swipe right and a list of the new stories appears. At that point, you also have the ability to discover new content from industry influencers that you are following as well.


How Snapchat Works

The concept behind Snapchat is similar to Instagram, another popular social media photo and video sharing application. You have the ability to create images and videos to share with the Snapchat community that can range from one second up to ten seconds at a time. You can also create a story, which is a series of snaps that focus on one topic or event.

Start on the camera presentation view screen and tap on the camera button to take a picture or hold that button down to make a video. When that is complete, a preview screen appears that will let you add fun elements to the snap such as different font styles, animation effects and colorful backgrounds.

Slide your finger from the left or right sides of the screen to give your snap various filter options. The final step before sending your snap is setting the viewing length that can be anywhere from one to ten seconds before it disappears from the recipients’ screens. Tap on the arrow that appears on the preview screen to bring up your list of followers, select the recipients that you desire and tap the arrow once again to send your snap. Upon receipt, viewers can interact with your snap for the timeframe that you set in the preview screen.


Your Snapchat Strategy

Snapchat takes a relaxed approach to social media interactions. It allows you the opportunity to show the more casual side of your business, which gives your target market audience a new perspective of you and your organization.

Your Snapchat strategy should include practices that generate the most interaction for you, and work to establish a stronger connection with your industry audience and influencers. This works to increase your brand awareness and extend your reach into the target market audience of your industry as well. Look at the different ways that your company can utilize Snapchat, and then select the platform practice that works best for your company.


Live Events

Snapchat presents a great platform for sharing live events with your audience of followers. You can showcase a product unveiling, trade show presentations or special customer celebrations. The real-time presentation platform heightens interest in your company and what takes place throughout a normal day.


Private Information

Share content with your audience that is not available elsewhere – including across your other social media channels. The element of surprise can be a beneficial platform that adds value to the customer experience with your company.


Promotional Offers

Customers love free gifts, and Snapchat gives you the ideal platform to make this happen. You can offer a free product or a discount on a service for followers who watch a Snapchat story you create or a snap that you share on a particular company activity.


Influencer Partnerships

Snapchat provides you with a great opportunity to partner with social media influencers who are part of the application community. It gives you a platform to reach a new market segment that you otherwise would have a difficult time reaching on your own.

You may want to take some time to familiarize yourself with how Snapchat works before selecting a platform practice for your business. It will give you a better idea of how your target market interacts with the social media tool and how make the most effective impact with any real-time marketing campaigns that you wish to run on the application. One such campaign that you may want to consider running is a Snapchat story.


What is a Snapchat Story?

A Snapchat story is a series of snaps that have one central theme or focus throughout the presentation. It expands your brand awareness by reaching out to an unlimited amount of Snapchat users. You can define the audience that will see each story you create and decide which central message they receive.

The story feature gives companies the chance to create real-time marketing campaigns that introduce a new element every day. Each story has 24 hours before it disappears from the application. When that portion of the story is gone, a company creates the next chapter that lives on for another 24 hour time period. That scenario continues until the marketing campaign ends or the company wants to change the direction of the story.


Story Content

The creative possibilities are endless with the Snapchat story feature. You design the promotional message just as you would do with a traditional advertising campaign, and include a call to action that you want the audience to take upon receiving your story.

Start by deciding how frequently you are going to send out a new chapter to a promotional story. Consider staggering the story chapters across several days, leaving a cliffhanger at the end of each story, to generate audience interest for what will happen next. You can take a candid approach with your content or inject a little humor into it for the added enjoyment of the audience. The following are content themes that can help your audience get to know your business better:

Candid Content

Candid content gives you the chance to showcase the softer side of your business. Showcase team members taking a sip of coffee or engaging in conversation with one another as a way to prepare for an upcoming company function. The best approach for this type of content is to capture something the minute it catches your eye. It can be a staff member deep in thought or the packaging material for a new product. It doesn’t have to be perfect or staged, just something simple that gives a softer feel to your business.


Humorous Content

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine to help you face the day. Share those silly moments with your audience to let them see another side of your company. Create a story that shows all the things that went wrong when producing a new product or the elements that fell apart when putting a new service together. It shows that you are not always as put together as you seem in the public eye. This makes you more approachable as a company, and you become someone customers can identify with just by sharing the more comical sides of your office environment.

Snapchat is not the place for formal business proposals or presentations. You do not always need to take a serious approach to the content that you share with your audience. Avoid sharing professional photo shoots or anything that appears to be staged beforehand. There are other social media outlets that are more ideal for that type of content. Keep things light and casual on Snapchat for the best results.


Sharing a Snapchat Story

You create a story in the same manner that you would a regular snap image or video. When you have a final product that you like, tap on the story share icon (square with a plus sign) that appears in the bottom center of the preview screen. Continue doing that for each snap image that you want to include in a story.

When your story’s content is complete, you are ready to share that story with the target audience that stands to benefit the most from what you are offering. You have the option of sending a story to only your account followers or you can send it out to the Snapchat network where anyone can view the story. The story is available for viewing as often as a recipient wants within that 24-hour time period. Recipients may also take snapshots of each image or video in your story as well.


Viewing a Snapchat Story

You may want to view your story so you have an idea of the presentation format that others will see when they view your story. Start from the camera presentation screen that you see when first logging into your Snapchat account. In the bottom right-hand corner there are three bars with a plus symbol on top. Swipe left to bring up the stories news feed area of the application. There you will see all the stories that are currently available for viewing.

Your story will be at the top of this list under the heading “my story,” along with other stories that you created within the previous 24-hour period. From this point, you can delete any story that you no longer want to share and check the viewing status of current stories. The current number of views for a story showcases an eyeball icon with a number that represents the amount of views for that particular story. It helps you know if a story is successful or if there is room for improvement next time.

Below your story statistics are the stories of people that you follow. When you see a story of interest, just tap on it and it will start to play. While viewing a story, you can tap the screen twice to move on to the next story in your news feed. From this screen point, you also have the opportunity to tap the circle icon at the top-right corner of the screen to access Snapchat Discover.


Snapchat Discover

Snapchat Discover is a relatively new feature in the application’s family and it is ideal for companies looking to place their brand in front of a new audience. Each brand has a circle icon representation that users can tap on to see a display of current Snapchat activity by that particular company. The presentation format is similar to an online magazine and less like a traditional social media newsfeed presentation.

Discover company brand circle icons appear in a three-by-four grid format with the trademark Snapchat ghost taking up the center space. When you see a brand icon of interest, tap it to open the icon for additional presentation material. As you return to the main screen, you will notice that the brand icon now has a white background. This happens to help you identify which brands you have interacted with and which ones still remain untouched.

In true Snapchat style, the discover brand content changes every 24 hours. Taking part in Snapchat discover content gives you the opportunity to interact with 11 of the top brand partners that are part of the discover circle. When you share snap content from one of these national brands, it places your brand in front of an entirely new audience. It gives you a chance to showcase your products and services to Snapchat users that might not otherwise come in contact with your company. It is one way that you can encourage people to follow your Snapchat account.


Getting New Snapchat Followers

The fun, casual approach that Snapchat provides is aided by having followers on your account. Each time you gain a new friend, it increases the opportunities you have to engage in conversations with someone new. As a business, this gives you the chance to increase your brand awareness as well. Snapchat has several different options available to let you find new friends for your account.

Start by tapping on the ghost icon at the top center of the camera presentation screen to open your profile account and go into your contacts list. You currently have a list of members in your smartphone address book who are also Snapchat users. Scroll down the list and click ‘add’ next to each contact you want to follow on Snapchat. You can send an invitation to join the network to any contact not currently using Snapchat.

You can also add Snapchat users when you know their direct user name that they have on their account. Type that information in on the ‘add friends’ screen and tap on the plus sign that appears next to that user’s name.


Social Media Promotion

Make an announcement across your other social media channels that you are now using Snapchat. Attach a screenshot of your ghost icon to your social media posts so that users know how to find your account. Snapchat is different than other social media accounts in that your profile page will not have a URL link that others can click on to find your account, making it essential that you put an icon image on your website and across social media as well.


Snapcode Ghost

Snapchat offers a unique feature that allows its users to find each other through something called a snapcode. Each account provides a snapcode through the black dots on the yellow background surrounding a profile picture. Another user can follow you by opening their account and pressing the camera button on the presentation screen. Snapchat then scans the snapcode and then adds that account to the user’s friend list.

It is customary for users that you follow to return the favor by adding you to their account as well. You can start conversations, send and receive snaps and enjoy all of the benefits that Snapchat has to offer. As a business, you now have the opportunity to interact with your target audience and get to know these individuals a little better.


Interacting with Your Audience

Snapchat provides you with excellent tools to start conversations with your target audience. The more interaction you have with this group, the more likely they are to do business with your company. It also gives your audience the chance to get to know you in an environment outside of the office or store. There are several ways that allow for interaction with your target market audience and potential customers as well.


Request Audience Snaps

Ask your customers to share snaps of how they use your products. As you view each snap, the sender can tell that you took that action. It generates a sense of value and appreciation knowing that you took the time to look at something even when you are otherwise busy.


Share Customer Snaps

As you view snaps and stories that appear in your Snapchat newsfeed, share the ones that catch your eye on your Snapchat channel. Mention the customer by name in the text on the snap, or feature it in a Snapchat gallery that you create on the company website.


Share Your Company Snaps

Be creative with what you share. Take a product that is a favorite with your customers and make it do something funny. Draw cartoon hats on staff members, or impose a smiley emoji onto someone’s face. Share your snaps across your other social media channels as well.


Promote a Product or Service Release

You can share snaps that focus on a new product or upcoming service you plan to launch. Give hidden clues as to what the product or service may be and provide tips on how it will benefit your target market.


Hold a Question and Answer Session

Encourage your followers to send you snaps asking questions relating to anything to do with your business. You can snap your response to an individual follower or create a Snapchat story answering all of the questions at once.


Creating Interesting Images

Snapchat provides tools that enable you to create interesting images and videos to share with your audience of followers. You have the ability to add text and emoticons to images, and use a drawing tool to add elements to your images as well.


Adding Text

Adding text to your snap images is easy and fun. Start by tapping on the text icon in the upper right corner of the image. Type in the caption and swipe up or down to place it in the image. You can double tap the text to change the font color and swipe left or right to change the font size.


Adding Emoticons

Adding emoticons to your images allows them to take on a life of their own. After you have taken a photograph or recorded a video, tap on the square page icon (to the left of the text icon) on the top of the screen. Here you can tap to choose emoticons you would like to use. Drag to place them, and pinch open or closed to size them.


Using the Drawing Tool

The drawing tool Snapchat provides is fun to use. Tap on the pencil icon that is in the top-right corner of the image screen (to the right of the text icon). Use the drawing tool just like a pencil and add any design that you want for the image.

By default, Snapchat shows images using these tools for three seconds. You can change this time by selecting the stopwatch icon on the bottom left corner of the screen before you publish your snaps.


Holding Audience Attention

Give your audience a reason to follow your Snapchat and engage with the content that you share. Change the intended focus of your snaps so that they are different than your other social media posts. This is a great way to keep customers guessing what you are going to snap next. When an interesting snap comes across your news feed, share it across your other social media channels and make sure to tag the customer responsible for the original snap.

To get your audience involved, hold a Snapchat scavenger hunt by asking your audience to share snaps that contain the items you name. The first customer who sends in a snap story showcasing all of the items can win a free product from your product line. Or, create a Snapchat story highlighting everything that went into bringing a product to the shelves for customers to purchase. Don’t shy away from showing the funny, casual things that happen around the office as well.



Snapchat is a great communication tool that can work to bring you closer to your customers. It also provides an inside look at life in the office when customers aren’t around, and shows that your organization is friendly and approachable. Take advantage of the convenient methods Snapchat has in place to help grow your followers list and work to providing intriguing content for those followers once they join your account. Most of all, embrace the fun that Snapchat provides and watch it take your business to a new level.

Still feeling as though this may be a little over your head, or that you want to learn more about marketing campaigns but just don’t have the time to add this task to your never-ending to-do list? Contact us today to see how we can help you kick off an amazing campaign.

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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!