March 10, 2016
With all the focus on social media for small business, one area we haven’t spent a lot of time covering is Snapchat. In part, that’s because I haven’t really tested out the waters of Snapchat from a business standpoint so, to remedy that, I turned to several social media gurus I know and asked them for their advice. Below is a compilation of their responses
First up, why is everyone’s talking about Snapchat?
Snapchat is a social media tool that temporarily shows images or video to your followers. By temporarily, I mean that the image ‘self-destructs’ after a certain time period. This creates a desire for viewers to constantly be on Snapchat for fear that they may miss something important. From a business perspective though, the temporary nature means that if you mistime your snap, you may end up with few to no one seeing what you’ve posted.
The big reason everyone is talking about Snapchat is that there is where the Millennials and younger generations are spending their social media time. Sure, those ‘kids’ have a Facebook account, but they know that their parents and grandparents are on Facebook so they don’t spend a ton of time there and only share things that they feel are safe for their parents to see. The real action, so to speak, for this demographic is on Snapchat. One study shows that 70% of college students report posting on Snapchat at least once a day compared to only 11% who post on Facebook during that same time period. Similarly, Snapchat is now the third most popular social media site for Millennials, behind Facebook and Instagram.
So is this another social media channel food entrepreneurs need to be paying attention to?
Like all social media, you need to be where your audience is. So if your audience skews older, you may not need to worry as much about Snapchat (though Snapchat recently said that they are going to try and grow their older demographic audience base). If, however, you’re a food business that caters to a younger market – perhaps you are a pizza restaurant located near a college campus for example – or if you simply want to make your food brand more recognizable to a younger demographic, then you very well may need to be spending your time on Snapchat.
For someone who is completely uninitiated in the world of Snapchat, what do they need to know?
First of all, before you start having a business presence on Snapchat, use it personally for a while to make sure you understand not only how it operates but also what some of the social niceties specific to that social media site are. Keep an eye on other food businesses or other small businesses on the site to see what they’re doing, sharing, and posting and gauge whether some of their tactics might be right for your business. You never want to make the mistake of jumping into a new social media platform as a business until you understand how it works and until you have a plan in place for how you’re going to utilize it.
Because the messages on Snapchat are temporary, what are some ways that businesses can use the platform effectively?
This will of course differ for every business out there and be specific to their goals, but some things that can work well are a coupon or discount sent out from time to time. If you’re going to be selling ice cream at the farmer’s market this afternoon, you may want to send out a discount via Snapchat to try and drive traffic to your booth. Ask your followers to show you a screenshot of your coupon (while messages on Snapchat can’t be saved, users can take screenshots of them that can be saved to their phones) or tell you a secret phrase to get their discount.
Sometimes users confuse Instagram and Snapchat. While both offer the ability to share pictures, on Instagram those pictures are usually more carefully curated – the images look gorgeously staged. Snapchat is a little more real and, for the right brand, this is license to have fun with the things you post. Add drawings to your photos, add comments, and be spur of the moment rather than waiting until the light is ‘just so’ to capture your shot. The realness aspect of Snapchat can help create transparency and allow users to feel like they really are behind the scenes in your kitchen and your business. With transparency being such a big hot button issue these days for food businesses in particular, this may help build trust in your brand.
Depending on your business model, you may also want to show Video Snaps – short videos posted on Snapchat – that show how to use a product; perhaps in a short recipe. Give users ideas on how they can use your product and get them purchasing more often!
What about Snapchat Stories? Can you tell us about how those work and why they might be valuable for small businesses?
Snapchat Stories is a feature that enables users to string together a number of images and video during a specific 24 hour time period. It essentially allows the story to ‘unfold’ before the viewer (who can either be a specific person identified by the Snapchat user, a specific group, or open to everyone on Snapchat depending on the security settings the business has chosen) either in real time as the images/videos are added or after the fact until the message implodes Snapchat-style. For example, say that you’re going out for your first food truck festival, this might be a great time to employ Snapchat Stories. You could start with images of getting ready for the festival, stuffing your truck to the gills with ingredients and other supplies, fighting to get your truck positioned just so in rainy weather, setting up you’re a-frame menu, selfies with some of the customers who come by to purchase from you, etc. Users can either view your story as you post each image or, if someone didn’t check out Snapchat for a few hours, they can essentially start the story at the beginning and watch the whole thing. Again, it’s a great way to authentically tell the story behind your company.
What’s the biggest takeaway you can share for anyone reading who is interested in using Snapchat for their business.
There are three really. The first is to reiterate that you need to get on the platform and understand how it works before you sign up as a business. The second is, have a clear idea of why you’re spending your time there. Is this where your audience is or are you just there because it seems fun? The last is that Snapchat is all about authenticity. You need to be willing to be transparent and authentic on this channel. Share the highs of business entrepreneurship but share some of the lows as well.