Marketing on Snapchat: Develop the Right Strategy

Marketing on Snapchat: Develop the Right Strategy

Ephemeral content storytelling has become the norm. Now, the idea of disappearing content in the form of ‘Stories’ across all social and mobile platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, and LinkedIn has become the future of social media storytelling. This outlook can wholly be attributed to the success of Snapchat.

Snapchat started in 2011 at Stanford and has gone on to become a global social media leader with the millennial and Gen Z generation. It is continually in the top 10 apps on the App Store, and currently has almost 200 million users.

These generations of consumers see social media as a part of their daily lives; it helps them to capture their experiences and adventures, so it’s essential for brands to connect and build authentic relationships with them so as to succeed. Snapchat’s core product feature is based on sharing memorable moments with friends, and to this end it has developed a platform with three initiatives: Friends, Stories, and Discover.

First, let’s break down the design and usability of Snapchat. One of the main issues with the platform is the confusing user experience, which, together with a recent redesign, has led to a huge market drop and loss of user growth. Indeed, with celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Rihanna minimizing their use of Snapchat as result of the changes, there are some important implications for the social media platform. What’s more, with the extensive user growth and increased product features of Instagram Stories, Snapchat is under significant pressure to innovate and maintain its core user base.

The Snapchat Platform

My Friends:

  • Send photos and videos that disappear in 10 seconds
  • Group and one-to-one video and regular chat

My Stories:

  • Create your own 24-hour story made up of photos and videos
  • Watch Story content from friends


  • Publisher Stories from media such as CNN, Mashable, Cosmopolitan
  • Influencer Stories

Other terms applicable for Snapchat:

  • Spectacles: A Snapchat hardware product that is a camera with a 115-degree lens, which is meant to more closely approximate how humans see. Spectacles record video snippets that are then saved to your Snapchat Memories.
  • Lens Studio: A desktop app for Mac and Windows that you can use to create, publish, and share magical AR experiences via Snapchat.
  • Bitmoji: A personalized animated avatar that mirrors the user.
  • Snapmaps: Can view Snaps submitted to Our Story from all across the world.
  • Geofilters: Special overlays that communicate the ‘where and when’ of a snap in a fun way, whether sending a snap to a friend or adding it to a Story.
  • Face Lens: Special effects that are applied in real-time using face detection, allowing users to watch how their facial actions affect the lens on the screen.
  • World Lens: Special effects that are implemented in real-time using background detection, allowing users to reimagine the world around them through the lens on the screen.

Snapchat and Advertising

It is vital that marketers understand why this platform would be imperative to connect with the youth generation. Millennial and Gen Z audiences are very wary of advertising and marketing in general, and do not enjoy being ‘sold to’. They very much value authenticity, social media influencers, and sharing quick, funny photo and video moments with friends. This is important, as most online marketing that has been successful since the dot-com boom has relied on advertising in the form of banner ads, social media ads, and display ads.

With social media apps like Snapchat, advertisers and users are merging so that the user in effect ‘becomes’ the ad when they share instinctually within their community. An example of this is when Taco Bell used the Face Lens feature as an advertising campaign on Cinco de Mayo. In doing so, they were able to gain 224 million views and 12.5 years’ worth of content in one day. This illustrates the fun and innocuous marketing and advertising aspects of Snapchat, which work so well with younger generations.

Snapchat Strategies

Once marketers understand these attributes, they then need to develop a comprehensive strategy to successfully market on Snapchat.

No matter what your strategy is, the type of Snapchat content should align with your brand tone, message, and content execution. Snapchat should be part of the marketing mix for brand awareness and be top of mind for your audiences. Additionally, with Snapchat you can include a link to create a direct response, which is essential in measuring your return on investment in the platform.

Here are six ways that marketers have effectively used Snapchat to engage audiences.

1. Show what goes on behind the scenes

Snapchat’s authentic nature lends itself to capturing content that pulls the curtain away to reveal a company’s true identity. By showing what happens day-to-day at a company, you can build connections with your audience –they’ll have a better understanding of the ins and outs of your company. HubSpot does an incredible job at this, as they are a global company and have employee takeovers throughout their many offices. In doing so, they highlight what is unique to specific offices and paint HubSpot as a young, fun place to work at, which helps with the hiring strategy as well. Remember that when you are producing video content, it’s helpful to add text captions within the snap for those who are watching with the sound off or in noisy areas. That way, they’ll be able to follow the content while on the go.

2. Stream live events

Typical events include product releases, trade shows, and overall customer celebrations, and by creating a special Snapchat Story for the event, marketers can garner audience excitement for whatever they are promoting. Additionally, you should create a Snapchat geofilter for these events so that your audience can use it and share with their community – generating more viewership and awareness for your event. With trade shows, you can use the geofilters as a way to drive attendees to your booth, which is especially beneficial considering the level of noise and competition at most trade shows. The geofilter will also pop up when users are searching for which one to attend.

3. Humanize your brand

As brands are becoming more ‘human’ in their approaches to connecting with their customers, Snapchat gives the opportunity to showcase the people behind the brand. You could, for example, interview the C-level executives and product leaders who are shaping the brand, or do quick question-and-answer sessions with company leaders in short 10 second increments. And make sure to use the native tools and filters when you carry out these interviews – it’ll make the content more engaging and fun!

4. Provide excellent customer service

Remember that Snapchat has capabilities that enable communications between your brand and its consumers. Whether it’s one-to-one or group chats and videos, you can connect with your customers and learn more about what they like and don’t like about the app. You can also create specialized content for them that can include promo codes and discounts that show that extra touch for your loyal fans.

5. Utilize influencers

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of influencers. Yes, there are expensive influencers out there like Kylie Jenner and Mike Platco, but you can also work with more affordable influencers who can use the Snapchat platform and tell creative stories just as well. Embrace influencers for Takeovers to add spice to your content.

6. Embrace the future

Snapchat has always been at the forefront of innovation – spectacles, face filters, and world filters are just some of its inventions – so it’s important to embrace all that Snapchat has to offer. Think beyond regular content on the phone and use different types of photo and video storytelling. World filters embrace augmented reality, so when you are showing the world in front of you, see if you can add something that captures the imagination – like a dancing hot dog, or a bunny rabbit! And with the Lens Studio, you can now even make your own augmented reality characters – something which would bring an additional element of branded fun to your Snapchat content.


Now that you have an overview of the features, strategy, and implementation of Snapchat, you can decide how best to take advantage of it within your organization. Remember to watch competitors, brands, and influencers excelling in the space to find creative inspiration and to understand the best strategy. Don’t be scared to start creating content, since ‘Stories’ type of content execution is the wave of the future for all social platforms.

And to help you out on the road to using Snapchat in your organization, here are a few articles that provide some useful tips and insights:

Kate Talbot

Kate is a freelance content marketer, author and entrepreneur, with a focus on helping brands to engage Millennials. Based in San Francisco, she writes a monthly column in Forbes, and is the author of the bestselling book 'Oh Snap! You Can Use Snapchat for Business', which IBM named as their Book of the Month. She has been featured on NBC News, CNBC, Huffington Post, Newsday, TechCrunch and VentureBeat.

Upgrade to Power Membership to continue your access to thousands of articles, toolkits, podcasts, lessons and much much more.
Become a Power Member

CPD points available

This content is eligible for CPD points. Please sign in if you wish to track this in your account.