SnapChatSnapchat is one of the most popular social media networks, used by many and unknown by many more. At first, it was widely criticized for its vanishing photo feature. Regardless of its initial negative perception, millennials flocked in millions to this social media app and brands are quickly following suit to drive engagement with their target audiences. The app provides a unique way to develop and share content and its users are responsive to this creative marketing.

In this post, I will discuss what Snapchat is, how brands are using Snapchat, and the advantages of incorporating Snapchat into your 2016 content marketing strategy.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo and video messaging app for mobile that was created in 2011 by Evan Speigel and Bobby Murphy. Snapchat is racing to the top and is the third most-popular social media network today.
There are an estimated 200 million active users on Snapchat. The majority of these users are millennials and Gen Z, which are two of the largest consumer target markets today. Brands who are positioning themselves in the palms of these user’s hands are at a competitive advantage over those who are not incorporating Snapchat into their content marketing strategy.

Quick Guide to Snapchat Lingo & Usability

Snap/Story: A snap is a photo or video clip with a 10 second limit of viewing. Snaps can be sent privately to friends or saved as a ‘Story’. When they are sent directly, they disappear after 1-10 seconds. The user can select the time limit. Stories disappear after 24 hours. Users can also customize their content with emojis, text, and drawings.

SnapChat StoriesStories: The ‘Stories’ section is the most popular feature on Snapchat. Users record up to 10 second video clips, snap photos, and save it to their profile. The stream of videos and photos are compiled to create a user’s “Story” which is only viewable for 24 hours. Snapchat also has a ‘Live’ section which compiles crowdsourced content from specific locations, such as cities or events. Only users in those locations are able to add content to a Live Story.


Discover: In addition to the Stories section of Snapchat, the app has a ‘Discover’ section. The “Discover” section is prime real estate for big brands seeking to get up front and center with their content to current and prospective consumers. Brands and organizations are using the Discover section on Snapchat to display fun and engaging content to users. For example, The Food Network shares quick cooking tutorial videos on their account and National Geographic shares gorgeous photos and videos from around the world with the goal of reaching millennials.

How Brands are Using Snapchat

Many brands do not have content marketing or social media budgets to claim a spot in the Discover section. However, this doesn’t mean brands of smaller size or with smaller budgets should shy away from using the app.
If a brand does not have a Discover channel, users must manually add the brand’s usernames to their Snapchat account or take a photo of the brand’s Snapcode, such as the one for The Huffington Post. In order to build a following on Snapchat, additional promotion on other social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, is necessary so that a brand’s target audience knows they have an active Snapchat account.

Taco Bell used Snapchat to announce the return of their Beefy Crunch Burrito and has an in-house team dedicated to creating content for their Stories. Other brands such as McDonald’s, General Electric, Acura, and Free People use Snapchat in various ways to connect with their customers.

It’s not just reputable companies who are using Snapchat. Just recently, the White House joined Snapchat and has been sharing behind the scenes videos of POTUS and his day-to-day duties. Other government agencies, such as the Department of the Interior used Snapchat in 2015 to promote their #FindYourPark campaign.

Advantages of Snapchat for Content Marketing

Produce Creative & Engaging Content

SnapChat applicationsBrands have the opportunity to create distinct content on Snapchat. Stories and photos should be simple, engaging, and fun. Brands can create Stories with videos and photos to provide information about products, services, industry updates, and the culture of the organization. For example, brands can create contests to attract job seekers and and recruit engaged employees. Grubhub, an online food ordering company, took this approach and used Snapchat to find a summer intern.

Real-time marketing

Snapchat is an excellent avenue for real-time marketing. Users enjoy behind-the-scenes looks of events, photo shoots, and office life. Another successful use of Snapchat is to promote a product reveal. NARS used Snapchat to show a preview of its Guy Bourdin color cosmetics collection.

Show Your Personality

Brands can show a fun and quirky side to their personality through Snapchat. The app provides a unique opportunity for brands to show their human side. Brands can take advantage of this approach by hosting a tour of their office or showing a day in the life of an employee at the company.

Build Valuable Relationships with Your Audience

Snapchat created a chat feature on the app which allows users to respond to snaps. This allows brands to break down the fourth wall and to open up the conversation with their target audiences, especially if they are millennials or Gen Z.

Snapchat’s features create a conversational approach to marketing between brands and users. With these tips, any company can expand their marketing strategy in order to create engaging content and meaningful connections with their target audiences.

Download Snapchat and see for yourself how to take advantage of the app for your content marketing in 2016!



  • Janet Mesh

    Janet Mesh is a marketer, blogger, and social media strategist. She is an active member and volunteer of AMA Boston on the organization’s social media team. Janet is also the creator and blogger of Far and Familiar, a travel website. Connect with Janet on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter at @meshymind.