Snapchat Marketing: Connecting Businesses with Millennials


Snapchat is considered a great platform for businesses to connect a youthful target consumer audience. Better known for its disappearing or ‘snap’ messages, Snapchat attracts a large number of young people who share images and videos to let others know about their daily activities as they happen. Many entrepreneurs either don’t know how to market on Snapchat or don’t really care about marketing on an ‘ephemeral’ messaging app. This post briefly goes through how Snapchat works and discusses how businesses can leverage the platform to step-up their marketing efforts.

What’s Snapchat?

Snapchat isn’t just another social networking app and mainly revolves around the idea of sharing pictures or videos for a short time period. The app is primarily focused on instant communication through Snaps (pictures or videos). Users can quickly share Snaps with their friends/family and have the option of applying different effects. That’s why a large chunk of Snapchat users are millennials, which is also reflected by the language the app uses.

It’s the temporary nature of the app that encourages a natural flow of information. The app initially focused on person-to-person photo sharing, but since then it has evolved into a full-fledge platform for sharing short videos, messaging, live video chats, stories sharing and more.

The app also includes a dedicated area called ‘Discovery’ that allows advertisers and publishers to showcase their content. The recently-added ‘Memories’ feature allows saving (to private storage) Snaps and stories. Integration with Square Cash makes it easier to send money and opens up new possibilities for businesses.

If it’s mission-critical for your businesses to reach the younger audience, Snapchat can do wonders. However, you might be better off spending the advertisement dollars on other social networks if youth isn’t your primary target audience.

The Snapchat Lingo

Since the app itself keeps updating regularly, features and UI also evolve with the passage of time. However, it’s important for marketers to understand key terms related to the app mean before diving any deeper. Here is a list of some of the most widely used terms:

Snap: It’s simply the photo or video a user sends/receives (or a message)

Bitmoji: Users who have downloaded and installed the Bitmoji app and created an avatar can link their account to Snapchat. Bitmoji was acquired by Snapchat and is designed to enhance Snapchat user interaction

Chat: Pretty self-explanatory, app’s messaging feature allowing friends to chat, start a live video call, share snaps, and send Bitmoji stickers and money

Snapchatter: Rarely used now, refers to a Snapchat user

Snapback: A reply to a Snap

Story: Linking together Snaps and broadcasting them (while capturing). Appear to followers as ‘story’ reel. Viewers can tap through a story, watch each snap and see what you experienced throughout your day

Snapcode: Scannable code for effortlessly adding new friends. A friend can easily add someone by flashing their Snapchat camera at a Snapcode, saving users from having to manually search and add friends. The Snapcode is available on the Profile screen and can be accessed from the ghost icon/Bitmoji at the camera screen corner

Snapcash: Accessible from the app’s chat section, Snapcash uses integration with Square Cash for easy transfer of money. Users need to enter their card information to use this feature, while the receiver also needs to setup the feature to receive money in their account

Score: The score is an equation that takes into account the sent/received snaps, stories, and some other factors. Holding down someone’s name in the contact list, chat area or story feed reveals his/her score, while your own score can be found under the Snapchat code. A higher score indicates frequent app usage and vice versa

Trophy case: Snapchat trophies encourage content creation and user interaction. Users receive a notification about earning a new trophy after which they can tap the notification and reach their trophy case, which also provides access to trophies for all milestones. Examples of trophy cases include 50 snaps with different pen colors (5 or more) and sending snaps with filters etc.

Filter: A fun overlay that can be added on top of a snap. Filters can be accessed by swiping right/left on the preview screen. Examples include a current time stamp, speed, local weather, geo filters, and colored filters

Geofilter: They work like other filters but are location or event specific. Small businesses can also purchase on-demand geofilters, but they are only available at specific locations such as weddings venues

Lenses: Special effects/sounds based on AR (Augmented Reality) that can be added to snaps (meant for face). Can be activated from the Camera screen by long pressing the face

3D World Lenses: Effect the environment around you, appear when the camera is facing outwards

Snapstreak: A uses is in on a Snapstreak if you see different emojis next to their profile name in the chat section. This happens when friend(s) have snapped each other for more than one consecutive day

Snap Map: Allows sharing location with friends/followers

Discover: An area dedicated to publishers, allowing them to broadcast stories. The list of current publishers includes CNN, Vice, Daily Mail, ESPN and Buzzfeed

Why Market on Snapchat?

The reasons are quite obvious including:

  • It’s free! (for the most part)
  • It’s a great platform to reach millennials or people aged between 18-24 (around 70% of Snapchat’s user base)
  • The platform itself is growing fast and claims to be bigger than Twitter
  • A whopping 188 million active users every single day, 400 million+ snaps each day
  • The most popular platform for teenagers
  • Snapchat isn’t just about millennials as almost half of new users are aged 25 years or more
  • More than 5% of companies are already using Snapchat, while new advertiser-specific features are also being added to attract more marketers and publishers, less competition
  • An average Snapchatter spends 30+ minutes each day, checking the app 25 times
  • Feels more authentic, Snapchat is about what’s happening right now
  • It’s a great platform to take users behind the scenes, offer exclusive photos and videos, new product previews, new promotion announcement, product how-tos and hacks

Promoting Your Brand on Snapchat

While it’s rather difficult to accurately predict ROI when marketing on Snapchat, many businesses have reported great campaign results. That’s mainly because Snapchat is pretty different from other social media platforms and the interface can also prove to be a little clunky. The platform promises great results for businesses that are targeting the youth. Despite its growing popularity, there is still less competition on Snapchat, increasing chances of connecting and engaging with the target audience.

Understand the Target Audience

You might be better off on other social media platforms if your products/services revolve around middle age and older people (but it does not hurt to try anyway). Knowing your audience is the key to success on any social media platform, which is essential for creating resonating content. It’s better to sign up for a personal account first and follow some popular brands and friends to get a better feel of the platform. This provides you with an opportunity to find your way before launching an official business account.

Plan on the Types of Content

Due to the ephemeral nature of snaps, users tend to pay more attention to them. Messages also remain in their inbox until opened, which is unlike other platforms where content becomes part of history rather quickly. This means you have to come up with creative ideas to engage the audience and cannot snap just about anything.

Some ideas for reaching and engaging the audience include:

  • Behind the scenes images and videos
  • Exclusive content
  • New product previews and teasers
  • New promotions, flash sales and discounts
  • How-tos and hacks
  • Tutorials
  • Products-in-action videos
  • Fun tidbits
  • Reacting to important industry news
  • Showcasing business history
  • Creating filters and lenses
  • Snapchat Ads

Focus on Raw, Organic Content

Snapchat users appreciate short, organic and light-hearted content, which also works well for small businesses and individuals with limited financial resources. There is no point in being a perfectionist when promoting your brand on Snapchat. The content should feel raw, organic and to-the-point.

Create Dialogue, Comment

You need to be a part of the social movement to get the desired results. Creating dialogue, commenting on snaps of the followers and being part of their conversation are some of the things you can do if you want them to listen.

Offer Incentive

Sharing coupons and discount codes are a great way of building brand loyalty. Due to the ‘diminishing’ nature of snaps, snapchat users have to follow vigilantly as stories usually only last for about 24 hours. Offering an incentive forces them to stay tuned and act quickly if they want what you are offering.


Running contests and challenging users is another great way of acquiring and engaging followers. Obviously, every contest should end with a reward for the winner, which could be anything from a free product to coupons or discount on future purchases.

Promote via Other Channels

Snapchat does not offer a search function, making it pretty hard to build a strong following on the platform. Businesses and entrepreneurs have to use other social media platforms to promote their brand, but they also need to give users a reason to join their brand.

Fun Tidbits

Snapchatters appreciate something fun and light-hearted coming from their favorite brands. These fun tidbits could be anything ranging from your Halloween creations to bad-day-at-office photos. This might not be the best way to promote your business or products, but it does increase engagement and portrays your brand as a company that likes fun.

Keeping Track of Engagement

It’s difficult to track performance on Snapchat, but there are a few things you can do to get an idea of how effectively the campaigns are running. For example, you can alert the followers about a discount code (unique to Snapchat) and get them ready to screenshot the snap. Since Snapchat keeps a record of track views and screenshots, you can see how many views actually converted into a screenshot. An agency can also keep track of how your campaigns are performing, but there is money involved in that method and not all individuals have a dedicated budget for that kind of monitoring.

Publish Content Regularly

A strategy and commitment is the key to success on Snapchat, which isn’t about publishing content once a month or when you feel like it. It’s a responsibility that should be assigned to a social-savvy team member who takes complete ownership of the account and regularly publishes engaging content.

Snap Ads

Snap Ads are short, full-screen video ads (vertical) that appear between Stories. Snapchatters can swipe up to view more information about the ad. It’s up to the advertisers to point the viewers to an in-depth video related to the ad or point them to another article or app install. Snapchat claims that the chances of users swiping-up are five times higher than the average CTR on other social media platforms.


Snapchat offers two different types of custom Geofilters i.e. on-demand and sponsored geofilters. Pricing for on-demand geofilters starts from $5, while sponsored geofilters are much more expensive and can cost SMBs a fortune (because a Sponsored geofilter typically reaches 40-60% of daily users). Geofilters are small art graphics that appear when snapchatters are present at a location of your choice. Once selected, these geofilters can be used to explain when, where and why a snap was taken.

Snapchat Sponsored Lens

Hosting your own lens for a day might cost you a lot of money, but the result could be millions of views and years’ worth of video play in just a single day. A Lens allows users to play with the interactive ad and share these Lenses with friends.


Whether you are planning on using paid Snapchat marketing options or just expanding the outreach, Snapchat has a lot to offer. That’s especially true for businesses involved in products/services that target the youth. Working with advertising agencies aka Creative Partners might be costly, but it can bring better results than in-house campaigns. In the end, what really matters is telling a great story that creates interest in campaigns and moves followers to take the desired action.