10 Tips for Harnessing the Power of Snapchat


snapchatSince its launch in 2011, Snapchat has risen meteorically from the brainchild of three Stanford University students to the darling of the tech world. There are an estimated 100 million monthly active users sending an average of 400 million snaps daily. With this activity, Snapchat is outpacing social behemoths the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

But is Snapchat right for your brand or organization? Do you have the time and expertise needed to devote to the platform?

To help you harness the power of Snapchat, let's take a look at 10 tips from Maureen McCarty, associate director of digital media at the Human Rights Campaign and a contributor to PR News' Book of Social Media Strategies & Tactics, Vol. 1.

Ask if Snapchat is an appropriate platform for you. The Snapchat garden requires daily tending. Does your team have the capacity to plant, care for and grow this social media platform?

Decide the appropriate level of exposure for your organization. Do you want to assign an individual to serve as a full-time Snapchat brand ambassador? You may not want a single personality and image to be the public-facing representation of your brand on a particular social media platform. The entire marketing team should jump in to help, communicating with audience members through videos, graphics and image shares.

Decide your purpose on Snapchat. A continual conversation on Snapchat is vital. If you don’t engage your users, they won’t engage you.

Provide deeper avenues of engagement beyond Snapchat. Each piece of collateral on Snapchat should include a link and a hashtag for deeper engagement.

Use other social media platforms to reinforce your following on Snapchat. Though there is no way to link directly from a website to your Snapchat account, users are often motivated to go the extra step to convert. Announce your account on Snapchat with a video and then promote that video on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and your website.

Don’t be afraid to steer away from quantitative success. Unlike its social sisters, Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat is more qualitative. Focus instead on genuine connections with members and supporters on a one-on-one basis.

Don’t underestimate the power of authentic moments. Digital managers should feel empowered to expand beyond the polished collateral typically released on other platforms and seek out raw moments. Take a calculated risk to expand the organization’s tone to unveil a more casual, approachable voice to give users the feeling that they are personally connected to your brand.

Remember that snaps disappear after a determined time frame. The self-destructing component of a snap can be a motivator for users. Unlike Instagram or Twitter, users can’t revisit your content. Appeal to a user’s fear of missing out with breaking news, announcements or coupons that must be opened. In this same vein, it’s important to offer exclusive content that a multi-platform user isn’t receiving on your other platforms.

Be mindful of what time you are snapping and apply lessons from other social media platforms to your strategy. Similar to Instagram, videos are more appropriate to send later in the day, when a user is more likely to have sound turned on. Image shares are better during school or office hours.

Finally, learn from your audience. Welcome ideas and encourage creativity from your audience.

For more best practices for Snapchat and many other social media platforms, check out PR News' Book of Social Media Strategies & Tactics, Vol. 1.

Follow Maureen McCarty on Twitter: @Maureen_McCarty 

Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene