Snapchat for Retailers

Snapchat for Retailers: It’s Time

by • June 17, 2016 • Retail News, Small Business MarketingComments Off on Snapchat for Retailers: It’s Time4460

Snapchat is the “cool kid” on the social media block. It’s engaging, it’s fun, and it gives followers a view of behind-the-scenes action in a raw, “unfiltered” way. But is the platform essential to your retail business or e-commerce store? Or are some viewing it through rose-colored lenses? Here’s what all retailers need to know about Snapchat in order to drive foot traffic and sales.

Just when you thought you had Facebook and Instagram all figured out, news of an algorithm change in March 2016 struck the social media marketing world like a bomb emoji. The announcement caused mass hysteria in Insta-land, where brands and bloggers pleaded with fans to “turn on notifications” so their content would still be viewable. (Note: the change officially happened earlier this month.)

So does that mean it’s out with the old, in with the new?

As Snapchat gains momentum, should you consider adding it to give your retail store an edge?


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Perhaps the stats speak for themselves.

According to SproutSocial, Instagram boasts 400 million monthly active users with 80 million photos being shared per day. Snapchat, on the other hand, has 100 million daily active users viewing more than 8 billion videos – a number on par with Facebook. Simply staggering! Just the other day Snapchat passed Twitter in daily usage.

The engagement is certainly there, and it seems like every brand and retailer is jumping on board and snapping away — which makes you wonder if you’re missing the party.

Be forewarned: the “ghostly” social platform does not offer any free metrics, which may frighten those of you who are used to seeing data and statistics in order to determine whether their objectives and KPIs are being met. (More on this in a bit.)

Before you join Snapchat’s world of fleeting photos and videos, the Insider shows you how to get set up properly  – and takes a look at companies succeeding on Snapchat as well as the tools they’re using to increase community engagement, excite audiences, and strengthen brand awareness.

Feeling overwhelmed by the ever-evolving social media marketing landscape? Check out the Insider’s guide to attracting Millennials to your shop or site.

What Is Snapchat, Exactly?

Snapchat launched in 2011 as a place to send your friends (OK, a place for your kids to send their friends) photos and messages that would disappear upon receipt. Now, brands, bloggers, and publishers can post “Stories,” which are snaps of photos and/or videos strung together to create a longer narrative. Once posted, stories “expire” after 24 hours, creating a sense of urgency that’s not offered with any other platform.

What does this mean for retailers? Think of it like having your own TV channel. You can offer limited-time discounts, unveil new merchandise, and show customers a more authentic side of your store than you can elsewhere on social media.

Get Set Up

Despite Snapchat’s illusiveness to anyone outside the ages of 18 to 38 (the demographic making up 60% of users) setting up an account is easy. Straight from Snapchat, here’s how to get in the game:

  1. First, search for “Snapchat” in your app store and tap “Sign Up” on the welcome screen. (Click to download for: iPhone, Android, Windows)
  2. Enter your e-mail address
  3. Choose strong password (at least 8 characters)
  4. Choose a unique username. (Note that you cannot change your username once it is set. If you choose to delete your account, your username will no longer be available.)  
  5. Verify that you’re human, and you’re ready to snap! Don’t worry, it really is…well, a snap. (If you can figure out a retail POS system, you can master Snapchat.) The platform will automatically take you to the photo screen, where you can follow the prompts to learn about different features.  

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Is Snapchat Right for You??

We spoke to Thomas Rankin, CEO and co-founder of Dash Hudson — an Instagram and Snapchat marketing platform — about Snapchat. Here are his tips.

“First of all, now is the time for retailers to get in on Snapchat. Brands that got in early on Instagram (both small and large ones) were able to grow quickly and drive a ton of brand awareness and new revenue because of it. Snapchat is in its early days, which means it is the perfect time to start building your audience.”

On social media, it’s first come, first served — and by “served” we mean a high amount of followers, strong brand awareness, and the chance to be seen as a leader in your category.

As for which brands are most conducive to Snapchat’s mechanism?

“Fashion, beauty, publishing, events companies. Anything ‘lifestyle’ is perfectly at home on Snapchat,” says Rankin. And that brings us to retail.

snapchat for retail

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Snap to It: 10 Tips for Great Content

So you’re thinking of starting a Snapchat account for your retail store. Here are 10 ways to ensure there’s no shame in your Snapchat game.

  1. Be Consistent

Snapchat is all about capturing the unique, behind-the-scenes essence of what you do, so try to be consistent and create snaps daily. And when we say “snaps,” we mean take pictures or video, which make up part of your “Story.”

  1. Be Creative

One of Rankin’s main messages is to be creative: “Snapchat is still undefined in terms of the type of content you must create. It’s really up to you. Think of it as a canvas, and don’t be afraid to show your brand’s true colors. People expect you to be funny, strange and creative,” he says. Lifestyle shots, quirky rituals that happen on the job, or even Spotify playlists can make great content.

Insider Snapchat Tip: Host a poll such as “Screenshot Your Favorite Look,” then showcase snaps of three images for users to vote on. It’s a fun way to engage your audience!

  1. Have Fun with Lenses & Emoji

And speaking of creativity, express yourself and have fun with lenses. Snapchat’s “facial recognition” tool allows you to animate your selfies thanks to predetermined lenses or filters that are updated daily. Want to be a dog today, or are you feeling like a unicorn? Or maybe it’s time for you and your partner to Face Swap?

Because Face Swap = Instant LOLs.

Now there are even fun stickers you can add to your snaps and chats — a refreshing way to say “high five” or add some avocado to your breakfast snaps.

Screenshot 2016-06-17 17.28.49

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  1. Use Geofilters

Geofilters are city-specific filters that serve as a postcard to your snap. For example, in L.A. you might frame whatever you’re snapping with a geofilter of palm trees or the phrase “Los Angeles Vibes.” Or if you’re in Las Vegas, add a geo-filter of the strip.

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Leverage the geofilters in your area, as they create a dynamic spin to your posts. Some cities even feature new geofilters daily, depending on certain events, so be sure to check them out.

snapchat filters

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  1. Be Spontaneous

In Snapchat’s case, it’s best to not overthink your posts. After all, the platform lends itself to unplanned, in-the-moment snap-portunities.

Rankin suggests: “Show your audience behind-the-scenes shots, events you take part in, glimpses into your manufacturing process, packaging, or photo shoots, etc.”

The cosmetics brand ColourPop has managed to amass 2.5 million followers on Instagram in two years — and has done zero advertising to date. The founders of ColourPop, siblings Laura and John Nelson, made a conscious decision to market their brand specifically via social media to a primarily Millennial audience. Boom.

And this Millennial audience loves what ColourPop is doing on Snapchat, which includes showing how some eyeshadows are made or displaying items being packaged on conveyer belts. As long as the people showcased in your posts are having fun, no subject will ever be mundane. And if that doesn’t work, just slap on some emoji or put a Drake tune in the background to make your content even more engaging!

  1. Do a Takeover

A fun way to boost your audience and reach is by doing a Snapchat takeover with an on-brand celebrity, influencer – or your best customer.

Rankin explains: “Takeovers are a great way to grow your audience. Ask or hire an influencer to ‘take over’ your Snapchat. That means that they run your Snapchat for a day, creating all of the content. Ask them to tell their Snapchat audience that they are doing it, and to follow along on your account.” This will help increase your reach.

Spontaneity is great, but it’s also important to meet with the influencers doing your takeovers so that they have a good grasp of your brand’s voice, tone, and target audience. Send them a style guide or “best practice” sheet before the takeover, if possible.

Insider Tip: You can also task some of your team members with “taking over” your Snapchat for a day. This offers a new point of view on the same brand — an easy way to keep things fresh!

  1. Use Instagram to Drive Traffic to Snapchat

You can post static images or short clips from your Snapchat onto your Instagram. It’s an easy way to drive people to your Snapchat account — cross-platform promotion is always a great idea.

  1. Host Contests

Oh, and remember how we mentioned conducting polls on Snapchat? Well, brands will post static photos and ask users to “screenshot” their favorite. This becomes the entry method for the contest!

  1. Keep Track of Your Performance — If You Can

Like all other channels, knowledge is power. So use an analytics platform like Dash Hudson — which currently has a Snapchat analytics tool in beta — to track which content is performing well.

  1. Follow Competitors and Other Accounts for Inspiration

As with other social media and marketing initiatives, it’s important to keep your eyes on what your competitors are doing on Snapchat and take cues from some of the beacons of Snapchat content.

Which leads us to…

Snapchat Leaders, And You Can Too

So who’s winning at Snapchat when it comes to posting great content and knowing how to appeal to their audience?

Screenshot 2016-06-17 17.31.24

In beauty, the aforementioned ColourPop is doing fun things, as are Maybelline and Glossier. In the world of retail, Forever21, Sephora, Hollister, and Burberry boast fun feeds.

The Takeaway

If you feel it makes sense for your target customer, consider giving Snapchat a try: the risk is very low, after all and, when done right, your foot traffic will thank you!

There’s no need to overthink it — try to be authentic and spontaneous when you can. Coming up with fresh content is hard work, but the rewards are definitely there! The mainstream is steadily moving towards Snapchat so….

are you ready for Snapchat? More importantly, is Snapchat ready for you?

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