Snapchat Marketing: The Key to Discovering and Engaging Your Most Loyal Fans

snapchat marketing

Talking about business use cases for Snapchat is bound to raise a few eyebrows—either in skepticism or eager interest.

The public-facing social proof you get from having tens of thousands of Likes on a Facebook Page, or Followers on Twitter, can do a lot to contribute to your credibility and make your brand look more legit.

But Snapchat, by nature, isn't very good at that.

Instead of building a huge Follower count, Snapchat lets you engage a smaller community of your biggest fans—people who are genuinely interested in what you're doing.

These fans are more valuable, not just because an existing customer is 60-70% more likely to buy than a new one, but because these people are more likely to become advocates of your brand.

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But the potential for marketing on Snapchat is probably a picture best painted with numbers:

If you're not familiar with it, Snapchat is a platform for sharing authentic photos and videos that "self-destruct" soon after they're consumed, on a channel that’s becoming increasingly popular among today’s millennials.

Snapchat Marketing: What to Consider

Snapchat is not quite a social network and not just a messaging app. It also doesn't seem to be a good fit for marketing, at least at first glance.

For that reason, a lot of folks either “don’t get it” or believe that it’s “only for young people who have no purchasing power anyway”.

But Snapchat’s apparent shortcomings—short-lived content shared at a relatively limited scale—are also it’s greatest strengths.

Snapchat's "walled garden" attracts only your most engaged followers, provokes their fear of missing out, and creates an authentic relationship like no other platform can.

Gary Vaynerchuk, a huge proponent of Snapchat, explains it best:

It's not how many followers you have, it's how many care. It's not width, it's depth. It's not how many impressions you get, it's how much attention you get.

If you’re still skeptical, let’s take a look at some Snapchat success stories before we go into how you can leverage the platform to build your own brand and fanbase.

The Curious Case of DJ Khaled’s Content Marketing Success

dk khaled key to success

Towards the end of 2015, hip hop icon and entrepreneur DJ Khaled proved that an active Snapchat presence can go a long way in building rapport with your closest fans.

His Snaps were entertaining, provocative, and offered a behind-the-scenes look into his lifestyle.

But it didn’t stop there.

As his followers increasingly talked about all the cool things happening on @DJKhaled305, more fans followed him there to ride along on the Snapchat philosopher’s “journey of more success”.

Google Trends reveals a correlation between the introduction of DJ Khaled’s Snapchat presence and his rise in popularity. The biggest spike shows the period in time when he actually went viral.

dj khaled snapchat google trends

 With the spotlight on him, DJ Khaled started sharing products from his own fashion line and promoting his WeTheBest Shopify store. He even took the opportunity to endorse products offered by friends and others in his network.

Seeing Khaled's products presented in such an authentic, everyday context gave them an appeal that would've otherwise been lost in a Facebook post or Google ad. 

And Khaled isn't the only one seeing success on the platform. Taco Bell is another brand that's reaching a large audience of super-engaged millennials with creative content.

Taco Bell Reaches Millennials With Creative "Snapsterpieces"

Taco Bell was one of the early adopters of Snapchat, according to AdWeek, and has managed to amass over 200,000 followers since. 

The platform makes a lot of sense for the brand—despite "marketing in the dark"—since it gives them the ability to reach a highly relevant audience with a wide range of creative bite-sized content.

Below is an example of a Snap from a Taco Bell Story that asks followers to color in the picture using Snapchat's doodling feature. Users take a screenshot, complete the activity and maybe even share the final product on other channels.

taco bell snapchat

The fleeting nature of content on this platform encourages followers to keep coming back for more, and since high production values aren't expected, and Snaps take very little time to create, you can crank out content daily without breaking a sweat. 

Getting Started On Snapchat

Snapchat is not as friendly to newcomers as other apps, which is probably why a lot of people give up on Snapchat before they give themselves a chance to fully understand its features.

After all, what's the point of getting yourself on a channel that sounds a lot like Instagram? Because unlike Instagram:

  • Content on Snapchat expires, so you don’t have a traditional “feed” that displays your Snapchat history, which adds a sense of urgency to content consumption.
  • Snapchat has creative editing options that let you not only add location-, speed- and time-based filters and face-recognizing “lenses” for videos, but also draw on your Snaps, add emojis, text and more.
  • Custom Geofilters let you brand "user-generated content" by letting your fans add a branded filter while they are at your physical store or some other venue. Submit your custom filter and, once approved, encourage your fans to use it. 
  • You can send Snaps to specific followers or curate a “Story” of multiple photos/videos that your followers can view before it expires in 24 hours.  
  • You can communicate 1-on-1 via messenger with text or a live video chat that’s more intuitive, and more intimate than Instagram Direct.
  • The inherent low threshold for quality keeps Snapchat authentic, putting more focus on sharing creative ideas and moments rather than trying to be "Instagram-worthy" every time. 

snapchat editor

Snapchat gives you the chance to share exclusive, creative Snaps with only your most loyal fans, such as:

  • "Day-in-the-life" content like funny photos, selfies, entertaining moments, a look into your company culture or how your products are made.
  • "How-to" content that teaches your audience something new while simultaneously showing off what you know.
  • Teasers for an upcoming product to build excitement and make followers feel like they're "in the know".
  • Product placements that let them see your inventory out in the real world. (You can get Snapchat influencers to participate in this too) 
  • Event coverage that can be uploaded as a Story.
  • Exclusive promo codes you can share with your own followers or send to a Snapchat influencer to share with their audience. 
  • Contest details to entice user-generated submissions from other Snapchatters.
  • The list goes on...

But before you get excited about firing off a bunch of Snaps, you need to get over the first, and biggest obstacle when using the platform. 

Building a Following on Snapchat

I won’t sugarcoat it: Attracting followers on Snapchat is more difficult than it is on your typical social networks.

You essentially sacrifice brand awareness and the ability to quickly build a massive following in favor of a more active and engaged audience. 

Imagine a wall around the platform. It won't be very inviting at first.

But then you hear that there are a ton of cool things happening on the other side, and the only way to get in on the action is to hop over the wall.

Some may not care, but those who are willing to join you on the other side are going to be your most interested fans. These are the most valuable followers you can hope to attract.

Since there’s no easy way for your audience to “retweet” or “share” your content, you need to get creative with how you spread the word and build your following.

You need to promote your Snapchat presence outside of Snapchat.

Feature your Snapcode or username in your social media profiles

Like Twitter or Instagram, people can follow you once they know your unique handle, so share your handle on social media or add it to your bio.

Better yet, every Snapchat account has a unique “Snapcode” that lets others add you simply by “snapping” it. You can make your Snapcode your profile picture for a brief period to draw attention to your Snapchat presence. Or you can share it as an image post with a call for other Snapchatters to follow you.


Download your Snapcode here and put it where your audiences might see it.

Add contacts from your phone or "Add Nearby" at events 

If any of the contacts in your address book are on Snapchat, you can get started by adding them, just like you might with Twitter. These are likely people who know you or who have interacted with you personally.

If you’re ever at an event, conference or happen to be in close proximity with a potential audience, you can encourage people to add you on Snapchat via Wi-Fi.

You can find both of these options under the “Add Friends” section on your profile, which you can get to by tapping the ghost icon when you first open the app.

snapchat add friends

Download and disseminate your Snaps

This is a must if you've got an established online presence elsewhere that you can tap into.

It not only helps you promote your Snapchat presence, but lets you permanently host some of your Snaps on other channels to give Snapchat more staying power in your content marketing mix.

Since Snapchat content is easily recognizable by other Snapchatters, even on other channels, it's a good way to give folks a taste of what to expect if they follow you.

Save and share your best Snaps on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—wherever you can. Just because content doesn't live for long on Snapchat, doesn't mean it can't live forever elsewhere. 

Reach out to Snapchat influencers

Like most channels, Snapchat is also home to Influencers who have already amassed a large following.

Vine stars, YouTube vloggers, and other Internet celebrities are adopting Snapchat as a way to supplement their main content engine, giving fans a more intimate way to follow along.

Reach out to these influencers as they relate to your brand and follow the same tactics you would for other channels. Aside from sending them product samples to try and maybe feature in a Snapchat Story, see if you can entice them to share an exclusive promo code or recommend that their followers also follow you. 

Measuring Your Success on Snapchat

The truth is you're kind of limited when it comes to measuring your success on Snapchat. 

Snapchat has three main "metrics" that don't give you the kind of insight you might be used to on other channels:

  • Views are more active here than on most other channels, and therefore more valuable as a metric.
  • Screenshots tell you when someone has saved your Snap for later
  • Replays tell you when someone has played your Snap again, either because they want to enjoy it once more or because they missed it the first time.

You can see specifically who among your followers views each Snap in your Story, which offers some nice insight into who your truest fans are. 

And though you can't generate outbound clicks through Snapchat, you can try including shortened URLs in your captions that you can track through and other services, or use Snapchat-specific promo codes for more measurable results.  

But that's pretty much it. For the most part you're going in with few signals of success.

However, the level of consistent engagement you can achieve is unreal when Followers "click through" to view your Snaps and binge on your Stories.  

DJ Khaled shared a picture of the crazy amount of views and screenshots his Snaps are getting.

Dj Khaled's snapchat!! ????

A photo posted by We The Best Music Group (@wethebestmusic) on

Even if you never see numbers like that, remember that 200 views on Snapchat are worth a lot more than on YouTube in terms of the active attention your content is getting.

Snapchat: Where Authenticity Thrives

Content marketing in all its forms is usually a long-game, and being authentic is how you win it.

You could start a blog or post photos on Tumblr or do any number of things to grow a large following elsewhere. But if you know you have people who are fans of your brand, consider taking it to the next level on Snapchat.

Because anyone who's willing to climb the wall and join you on the other side on Snapchat is easily many times more engaged than someone who followed you in the hopes of being followed back.

And keep in mind: Snapchat is still in the experimenting phase, figuring out sponsored content in its Discover section and 3V ads to help brands market themselves on its network without compromising the integrity of the platform. There's still a lot of potential to explore for marketing here. 

But let's pass the mic to you. What do you think about the opportunities for marketing on Snapchat? Do you think these messaging apps will have a place in the future of marketing?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!