Snapchat: The Complete Guide for Marketers


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cell phone with snapchat

Snapchat is on fire! Literally! Just check the numbers for Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo lens campaign where in just one day 224 million people interacted with their brand for an average of 24 seconds. In festive spirits, playful Snapchatters were able to use Snapchat’s lens feature to turn themselves into a scrumptious crunchy taco, topping themselves off with Taco bell’s signature Diablo sauce.

taco bell snapchat

If you’re scratching your head as to why so many users would turn themselves into tacos or any of this sounds a bit unfamiliar, we’ll backtrack for a minute. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This post will get you up to speed by discussing Snapchat in more detail, with a strong focus on how marketers can utilize it to improve their marketing strategies. If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve most likely heard of Snapchat by now. In fact, I’d be surprised to find out you hadn’t played with it at least once.

In terms of social media platform traction, Snapchat has been gaining momentum at an astonishing rate. In the last 6 months alone they’ve seen an increase in active users that has pushed them ahead of Twitter with 150 million daily active users. While a whopping 85% of US Snapchat users range from 13 to 34 years old. You might be surprised to find out that Snapchat’s demographics are shifting. Over 50% of their total users are now aged 25 or above.

It’s no secret that the application can entertain to no end. In fact, snappers spend an average of 30 minutes a day in the app alone. This multifunctional platform allows users to share images, their full day story or chat discreetly. They can even swipe through screens of content from their favorite publishers for a healthy dose of short form pieces, image-heavy articles and videos.

Should marketers be on Snapchat?

Lately, a big question on many marketer’s minds has been whether to join in on the Snapchat craze or not. Just like any other social media platform, you have to weigh the potential benefits, time required to maintain the channel, and expected reach to determine if the platform could be successful for your organization.

First of all, consider your audience. If you’re marketing to millennials, this is the channel to be on. However, considering the limited visibility of your snaps, your approach to Snapchat marketing should be as imaginative as possible in order to capture your viewer’s attention and leave a lasting impression. Rather than creating the highest quality image as you would on Instagram, you can show a sillier personality with emojis and doodles or interact with you audience through competitions or Geofilters.

While some marketers are hesitant to hop on the Snapchat train, others find the challenge and opportunity to be original extremely appealing. Brands have a very rare chance to show a more authentic side. Some reasons for marketing on Snapchat might be to:

  • Discover new audiences
  • Interact with snappers
  • Promote brand loyalty and identity
  • Transmit message in a creative way
  • Make your audience part of your brand story

Or even just because it’s not your standard social media platform and hey, it’s fun!

Creative ways to Market on Snapchat

B2B and B2Cs might be intimidated when getting started on Snapchat. There are, however, a few strategies we’ve seen often, to entertain and engage with your audience. If you’re just getting started, or even a seasoned Snapchat professional, you can increase your followers by publishing copies of your snaps on your other social networks along with your QR or Snapcode.

Behind the scenes: Give your followers a true taste of your company’s personality. This can be an effective practice for both B2B and B2C organizations who’d like to show a shot of company culture or how products are made, distributed or presented to customers at the final point of sale, etc. Is something special happening at the office? Give your viewers an exclusive peek.


You can even tell the complete tale with Snapchat’s 24-hour rolling story. Record a few events throughout the day to fully communicate your message in a unique way to your followers. For example, if your organization is throwing a health fair, take your snappers through it, show them the events as they happen in real time, and let them meet some of your staff. This particular opportunity makes brands, whether they are B2C or B2B, more human and relatable.

Throw contests: If you’d like for your audience to engage with you, then set up competitions. You might consider asking them to send creative snaps of them doing a certain task which can be reposted to your other social channels. You could even request their input to help you judge a company competition. For example, eCommerce companies can have some fun with “who wore it best”. Tell your audience to take a screenshot of the snap they wish to vote for to tally up the score.  

Coupons: Don’t be afraid to send out discounts over Snapchat. You can even build up anticipation around special offers. Start a countdown until the big reveal or uncover your code little by little. Curiosity will keep your audience engaged as they follow you throughout the day.

Feature or Product release: give your audience an exclusive glimpse of your release. Do you have a new app feature? Show a short clip to your audience directly from the developers!

Q&As: Invite your snappers to a Q&A session. Build up hype for it over a few days and request for them to send you a snap of their question. Finally, go all out with a story of the session. Don’t be shy – use emojis and doodles to animate your answers and don’t forget you have the option to download your full story and share it directly on your blog, twitter, facebook, or wherever your audience is!

Sponsored Ads:

The theme of Snapchat seems to be creativity and that doesn’t stop at their Ads platform. Marketers can really let their imagination soar when planning their next Snapchat campaign. Depending on budget, necessity and just how inventive your team is willing to get, Snapchat has a few ad options for you:

Snap Ads

Snap Ads allow brands to insert up to 10-second mobile video ads into story loops. The ads are skippable, but they are discreetly placed. Furthermore, advertisers have the option to use the swipe up feature to reveal extended videos or supporting content. Snapchat boldly claims that Snap Ads are so successful that their click-through rate is 5 times higher than comparable ad platforms.


Snapchat Geofilters are stickers or frames pasted over images or videos and are only available under certain geographic limits, making them perfect for events of all sizes. Communities and Universities are encouraged to submit their artwork for free, but brands or even just a small group of friends throwing a birthday bash might want to get in on the Geofilters action as well. Just check out the sweet local snap we took from our Manhattan office! Not a bad view, I mean… Geofilter, right?

sweetspot snapchat

Organizers of smaller events such as conferences, weddings, or maybe even corporate lunches can easily submit geofilters and have them approved in less than 24 hours for a small fee with On-Demand Geofilters. Whereas campaign that need a wider reach should be built and distributed through Snapchat’s Sponsored Geofilters.

Vans teamed with Snapchat for their 50th Anniversary to celebrate their heritage of creative expression, or “off the wall” culture, with a series of Sponsored and local On-demand Geofilters. Not only did they engage with their target audience, but purchase intent and brand favorability metrics were at an all time high.

Sponsored Lenses

By far one of the most entertaining features found in Snapchat is the lenses. Brands are welcome to create sponsored lenses and users can choose from those available such as the popular puppy, flower crown, and nerd glasses. The lure of this particular ad type is purely interaction. The more complex and fun the lens is, the more likely users are to interact and share. Advertisers can prompt users to open their mouth or raise their eyebrows to manipulate the lens to do funny or surprising things.

Just like Taco Bell, brands like Gatorade have also experienced great success with Snapchat lenses. In a playfully creative lens campaign they invited Snapchatters to participate in the legendary Gatorade dunk in celebration of the Super Bowl. While most sponsored lenses are played with for about 20 secs, Gatorades’ lens entertained viewers for an average of 30 secs with 165 million views.

gatorade snapchat

Following their successful campaign, Kenny Mitchell, Sr. Director of Consumer Engagement at Gatorade, stated: “Partnering with Snapchat to bring this opportunity to life through their Sponsored Lens is a great example of two brands utilizing recognizable and unexpected assets to deliver a one-of-a-kind user experience, which exceeded all of our expectations” .

Measuring Snap Performance

Up until recently, Snapchat has been a bit notorious among data-driven marketers for their disappearing metrics. However lately they’ve taken a serious approach to giving marketers the data they need through agreements with third party measurement tools, such as DoubleClick and Moat.

Just like any marketing channel, you should be measuring your performance to see which approaches have had the most success so you can make more insightful decisions in the future. Some Snapchat KPIs to keep any eye on include:

    • Total Story Completions:  keep track of how many people follow your story all the way through. This is an insightful metric for determining which type of content holds your viewer’s attention longer.
    • Screenshots: whether you are using screenshots for competitions or simply testing content, this is a great engagement metric.
    • Views: Keep track of weekly views. If the number is pretty stable, it may be time to rethink a new followers approach. Keeping track of followers will also give you an idea of what attracts your audience’s attention the most.
    • Cross platform engagement: Don’t forget to measure your Snap engagement for the content you reshare across other social networks. Do your followers go up after sharing on Twitter? Or does your content get higher engagement on Facebook than Snapchat?
    • Video Quality: 3rd party measurement tools can rate video quality metrics such as sight, sound and motion. Use this metric to determine how the quality of your video snaps impacts engagement.
    • Geofilter/lens views vs snaps: Calculate the percentage of those who viewed your Geofilter or lense to those who actively engaged with it with a snap.


We’d love to hear about your Snapchat experience! How have you used it to better your marketing strategy? What other KPIs would you recommend for marketers to measure their performance?


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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing Director. Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.

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