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How to market on Snapchat when brands are signing up but getting nowhere

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Brands are hearing the call to sign up for Snapchat, but most are already dormant (aka failed). What is so different about this environment?


You’re here, now what?

Surprise, surprise, tons of brands are grabbing up Snapchat accounts then doing absolutely nothing with them. Although Snapchat is at the forefront of brand adoption, most branded accounts are abandoned pretty quickly.

According to eMarketer, 90 percent of active wear brands, 78 percent of beauty and fashion brands, and around two-thirds of retail, watch, and jewelry brands had Snapchat accounts as of September 2016. However, only 70 percent of those remained active after the initial sign up. Why such an abysmal attendance rate?

Snapchat is the new frontier

It is a wild west of marketing where although anything can go, not everything sticks. And honestly, I’m down for brands who just don’t get it to get out of town. This Snap Story isn’t big enough for the two of us. Especially not if the presence is forced.

[clickToTweet tweet=”To succeed on Snapchat, you must understand the medium – it’s more personal Twitter or Facebook.” quote=”For a brand to succeed on Snapchat, they need to understand the medium. Snapchat is a more personal media than Facebook or Twitter in some regards.”]

Although its evolution has allowed for hours of endless scrolling and neurotic checking of friend’s posts, Snapchat remains the most immediate of social media. I can provide real time updates to friends in microsessions, sending slice of life clips in a way that is more intuitive than Periscope or other live video sharing.

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Personally, I don’t want branded content popping up when I’m trying to show my brother how cute our cat is sleeping. My Snapchat experiences with brands are mostly inorganic. They are a forced presence that often signifies a lack of understanding for how and why users choose the platform.

If you advertise to me on Snapchat, I am not interested. If you engage me though, I’ll listen. Maybe.

How some brands have garnered attention

Some brands have had success with featured stories, an aspect of Snapchat that has quickly evolved. Initially, Snapchat offered a dozen or so brands like Cosmo, Vice, and CNN a place in the Discover tab.

Now, Discover features over 30 different brands, ranging from lifestyle to sports, established news publications, trending music, and magazines.

Instead of showing up as featured ads like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, brands on Snapchat offer users the illusion of choice. If I don’t want to see branded content, I simply don’t venture over to the Discover tab. But if I’m camping out in bed because it’s cold, I might find myself flipping through MTV or the Food Network’s stories for the day.

Creating a brand presence on Snapchat is tricky

Marketers need to figure out how to stake out a name for themselves without forcing their way in. If I’m on Snapchat, I expect the focus to be on me and my friends. When brands understand this, I’m fine with it. I might even share some of their content via Snapchat.

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But brands that can’t figure out the intimate culture of Snapchat? I’m totally fine with the bones of their accounts rotting in the metaphorical desert.


Written By

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.



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