Snap to It: Tips for Brands to Get Started on Snapchat or at Least to Think About Now

Like all social media platforms, Snapchat is tweaking itself, and the social community responds with changes of its own. Just weeks ago it was accurate to say Snapchat contained no e-commerce ads, that it averaged 8 billion daily views and that curated content on the evanescent platform was strictly verboten, a liability for brands intent on having maximum control of the message.

Each of those statements now is untrue. Quickly to the first two: Snapchat began accepting e-commerce ads May 1 and it now says it is averaging 10 billion views daily. While those first two points are important to brand communicators, especially those interested in speaking to a millennial demo, the curated content piece may be the most important.

Instead of depending on influencers to snap appropriate photos and videos, brands using a tool like Mish Guru have control. “The influencers send snaps directly to the brand’s account, allowing the brand to repurpose any of the original photo or video snaps into the brand’s own snap story,” says Laura Wilson, director of digital engagement & social media, Georgetown University. She does this with 12 paid influencers, who also are Georgetown students. “We don’t have to give away the keys to the kingdom,” she says. It also allows Wilson to “create really interesting snap stories using content we select from a number of different students.”

Another platform, Snaplytics, allows brands to upload and schedule Snapchat content from a laptop, so it could be used to curate, but would be more difficult, Wilson says.

Now what about the pesky measurement issue with Snapchat, which is off limits to 3rd parties and requires a lot of work by hand? ( PRN, May 9). Well, that might be changing. Yet another platform, Delmondo, is “part agency and part tech platform.” It provides a platform for brands to find and contract with Snapchat influencers to produce content together and a proprietary analytics tool to measure results.

So, should your brand still ignore Snapchat? Probably not.

But perhaps your brand isn’t ready to dive into the Snapchat foray today. Fine. That might be reasonable, Gavin Donovan, digital strategy lead, Mission Foods, says. Still, even if the brand is on the sidelines, decide today on a Snapchat handle and reserve it, he says. “The last thing you want to do is lay out your Snapchat strategy for the C-suite and then have to say your brand’s name already has been taken.”

Another tip for PR pros whose brands elect to pass on Snapchat: Educate your executives now about the channel. While the CEO might not want to engage the brand on Snapchat today, “You don’t want the neighbor’s kids educating the CEO about Snapchat,” Donovan says.

Once your brand decides to commit to Snapchat, though, make sure you have a coherent strategy for it. Decide where you fit in on Snapchat, he advises. Do you want to use Snapchat to advertise, to recruit, to tell stories? As you would with any PR initiative, think strategically about your goals before diving in, he adds.

For Wilson having the brand active on Snapchat is a bit of a no-brainer. Again, it’s those 10 billion daily views, including 60% of U.S. high school students (read prospective Georgetown students) using it at least once daily. Similar to the White House’s reasoning for starting a Snapchat account, “It’s about meeting people where they are,” Wilson said.

So, if you dive in, “A Day in the Life” makes for strong content, she says, and it’s a good way for brands to get started on the platform. Amazon has done something similar, showing staff members doing fun things at their office, she says.

Another winner is live events. Wilson shows Snapchat content featuring a Georgetown cheerleader. The cheerleader took viewers behind the scenes at the Verizon Center hours before a Georgetown-Syracuse basketball game. “This is a view most people won’t ever see,” Wilson says.

Wilson also touts using coupons and incentives on Snapchat. For example, GrubHub did a series of snaps where a pizza pie was slowly disappearing, slice by slice. At the end of the series the bottom of the pizza box showed a coupon for a discount on GrubHub.

A few creation hacks she recommends that will greatly improve a brand’s snaps: 1. It seems basic, but have a backup battery for your mobile phone. “Snapchat really drains your battery,” she says. 2. A simple stylus, costing about $20, allows you to write on your snaps. 3. An extra snap-on lens for your mobile phone will help the quality of your snaps. 4. A glider or stabilizer steadies the phone. 5. A selfie stick. Total cost: $200-$300.

She also touts on-demand Geofilters, which can be used by brands even if they lack a presence on Snapchat. Recently introduced, Geofilters “usually are approved within one business day,” Wilson says. If a Snapchat user is posting from a particular area, say on a college campus, he or she can choose a filter that will place their snaps in a border with a brand’s name and message on it.

J.P. Morgan Chaseused a Geofilter at Georgetown’s graduation. The cost “is a lot less than you’d think,” she says, noting the price is decided in an auction style.


Editor’s Note: Don’t miss PR News’ Snapchat Bootcamp, July 12, 2016, NYC. Info: