Is Snapchat Right for Small Businesses?
At this point, you’ve probably heard of Snapchat. The mobile app allows users to send videos and photos that will essentially disappear after a few seconds of the recipient viewing them. The app boasts some incredible usage numbers including over 200 million users viewing 8 billion videos per day. Most impressive though is its ability to reach a brand marketer’s dream demographic, the millennial. The company notes that more than 60% of 18-34 US-based smartphone-using adults are Snapchat users.
While these numbers are undoubtedly impressive, the question raised in this article isn’t necessarily Snapchat’s viability as a platform, but rather whether or not small businesses should utilize the app to extend their marketing efforts.
Reaching your target market
Leading marketing efforts for a small business is no easy task. Day one on the job typically consists of preparing a 10-page strategy document on how to reach your target customers. Day two involves throwing 8 pages in the trash bin. The reality of marketing in a capacity strained environment is that every campaign you initiate needs to be laser focused. While new and exciting platforms can be tempting, its best to take a step back and ask yourself, based on my limited capacity, both from a time and financial perspective, where can I get the most return? Its often the case that you’ll find the answer isn’t venturing into unknown and untested platforms.
On the digital side as a whole, marketers of small businesses are finding that it’s starting to make less and less sense to expand much further outside the internet’s core advertising platforms. Obviously there are exceptions based on niches (see Pinterest) but rather than bouncing from platform to platform throughout your day, keeping your company’s brand advertising on Facebook coupled with its bottom of the funnel marketing on Google’s Adwords platform tends to be the best use of a small business marketer’s limited time.
Both Facebook and Google’s ad platforms have several key benefits. First, no other platforms have more detailed information on their users. When opening their ad interfaces, you’ll be quick to recognize how far you can drill your targeting to reach the customers in your market. Next, is customization. Both Facebook and Google allow for endless customization and optimization of your advertising to creatively run the type of campaign that best fits your marketing goals. Finally, and most importantly, is support. Both Google and Facebook offer, not only endless literature on their platform’s best-practices, but one-on-one customer support to help your business setup and optimize your campaign for success.
Overall Snapchat is without a doubt a powerful platform. In the years to come and as brand’s TV advertising dollars move more and more to the online space, Facebook is a clear first destination, but Snapchat is poised to be close behind. The platform is unique enough from a product standpoint and very attractive from a user engagement model. Plus, as mentioned earlier, they are strong in the millennial market, which has always been a brand advertisers bread and butter – get a person buying your products early and they often become customers for life. But the distinction of who your company is and what your marketing goals should be is important.
Its often the case that in a highly fragmented digital world, the best way to optimize your limited capacity is to stick with the proven platforms and avoid untested waters. Look to Facebook and Google first, as they are powerful tools for marketers. Read case studies from companies that have come before you and learn how to use each platform creatively. Utilize the wealth of information each company provides to assist their customers in their advertising efforts. If necessary speak to a consultant who can help guide your decisions. And, if you decide to take the plunge into a new platform, like Snapchat, make sure you have established goals and a clear path to reach them.
Try Snapchat for Yourself
If you do decide that the nature of your business warrants an honest effort on the platform. Starting is easy – make an account for your brand and promote it via your other social media/online platforms. In terms of using your account, it’s not overly difficult and you’ll become an expert if you take some time to try out all of the filters and drawing tools – you can adjust pictures or videos thanks to innovative filtering and drawing options that help you alter lighting and content, as well as adding topical themes and location-based branding filters.
But, the point of your Snapchat account should be to do some guerilla-esque marketing and brand promotion via funny/interesting photos and videos. Get different employees involved and have people take turns operating the account – just make sure that everyone understands that everything needs to be appropriate!
Basically, you should be highlighting your products and services with your overall business as a frame of reference. If you have a new product, take some snaps (pictures) and videos of your employees and customers using this item. If you’re a service-based business, document one of your employees performing the service. Remember, you need to make the pictures or videos fun and interesting.
Most importantly, perhaps, you need to realize when Snapchat won’t work for your business. If you’re a retail or service establishment that has a significant market among millennials, or is looking to expand into this demographic, give it a shot! If not, then keep a basic profile and focus your attention on the platforms that give you the best chance at succeeding.
About the Author
Sean Killian is the marketing lead at Enola Labs Software, a custom technology firm specializing in mobile apps, web solutions and tech consulting located in Austin, Texas.