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Should Small Business Use Snapchat Advertising?

By Townes Haas   |    August 23, 2016   |    9:20 AM

Snapchat has recently rolled out several advertising options for business. But are any of these features right for small business? 

It really depends on the nature of your small business and the demographics of your customers. This social platform fills a very specific niche within the social media market, so the more you can learn about it, the better you can assess its benefits to your small business.

Launched in 2011, Snapchat is a fairly new model. The platform allows its users to create "disappearing media" including photos and short videos that could only be viewed once by recipients before the platform deleted them.  Two years after launching, Snapchat updated the platform with a new feature that allows users to add their media to "Stories" as well as share them directly with other users. In keeping with the platform's concept, Stories also expire and disappear 24 hours after being published.

The platform was a hit with teenagers and young adults and continues to be a popular platform for Americans aged 13-34. Snapchat now has an active user base of more than 100 million users. Last January, Snapchat finally monetized itself by launching a new feature called Discover that makes it practical to post sponsored brand content and partner ads.

As far as your small business, you have to ask whether Snapchat is suitable for you.

  • Are Millennials and younger consumers your company’s primary target market?

  • Is your business established with older generations but you want to ensure that it is attractive and relevant to younger consumers and emerging generations?

  • Does your small business have the capacity and bandwidth to constantly take photos and videos that reflect your brand to younger generations?

If you decided the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” then there are clever ways to start using Snapchat for your small business.

1. Create your own Geofilter so that users at or near your business can easily tag their photos and videos with a Geofilter that refers back to your brand or location. (Think about all the Pokemon Go players you've seen milling about in parks and malls in the past month or so).

2. Use Snapchat to promote a flash sale. By its very nature, none of the media on Snapchat lasts forever. If you are having a flash sale in a retail location or online, a snap sent to “My Story” will let your followers know right away. Use the fleeting nature of the platform to give your audience a reason to care, such as a special discount code or QR code only available to your followers on Snapchat.

3. Promote events with Snapchat. Build buzz around upcoming events with an On-Demand Geo-Filter. While snaps disappear after being viewed, savvy Snapchat users know how to save the original photos, extending the reach of your promotion to other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

4. Show the behind-the-scenes scene at your small business. One of the coolest features of Snapchat is that it feels very intimate and authentic to its users. Use Snapchat to give your followers a sense of what it’s really like to work at your small business, whether you’re decorating cupcakes or manufacturing tiny robots. If you make a product, show just how challenging it is to create a product from scratch. Even if you can share a behind-the-scenes video a few times a week, it will help build buzz for your small business.