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Snapchat for Business: Everything You Need to Know

Saige Driver
Saige Driver

Snapchat is a unique tool for businesses to connect with customers. Here's how to use it.

  • Snapchat is a social media tool that supports short, temporary sharing of photos and videos.
  • Businesses can advertise on Snapchat with traditional ads, branded filters and lenses or geotags.
  • When using Snapchat, be sure to make your content fun, brief and engaging.
  • This article is for small business owners who want to learn how to use Snapchat for business.

With nearly 400 million monthly active users, Snapchat is a relevant and easy-to-use marketing tool that businesses shouldn't neglect.

Launched in 2011, Snapchat allows users to send temporary, seconds-long images or videos to other users. The platform's short-term messages become inaccessible after they're opened. Although Snapchat is one of the most popular mobile social media apps, its website doesn't receive as much traffic because it's a mobile-only platform.

While Snapchat is a great tool, it's not ideal for every business. Before you commit your time and resources to the platform, make sure your target audience is there: According to Omnicore, more than 70% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old. If you have an older following, you may want to focus your marketing efforts on other platforms such as Facebook.

Snapchat is also more widely used among millennials, so consider your target audience before committing to the platform. If you want to become a Snapchat marketing pro, you'll need to understand the app in-depth.

What is Snapchat?

Launched in 2011, Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to send short, temporary photos, videos and chats that disappear after a short amount of time – typically mere seconds. Snapchat also offers interactive features like Snap Maps, where you can view the locations of your friends; Stories, which live on your profile for 24 hours; Bitmoji avatars; and a Discovery tab for finding new content.

Key takeaway: Snapchat is a social media app that allows users to share short, temporary photos and videos.

How to set up Snapchat  for business

You need to create an account to use Snapchat. Registration can only be done on a mobile device.

First, download the app. From there, the on-screen directions will prompt you to add your birthday, choose a username, enter your email address and start adding friends from your phone's contacts list. To set up a Snapchat Business account, follow these same steps, then set up an account with Ads Manager here. Complete the following steps to create your business account:

  1. Input your business name and select the country you will be doing business in.
  2. Create your first campaign to be set up with your Ad Accounts.
  3. Input a payment method for your first Ad Account.

Key takeaway: You can create a personal or business Snapchat account. A business account gives you access to the app's Ad Manager.

How to use Snapchat for business

The anatomy of a Snap

Now that you've signed up for an account, it's time to navigate the opening screen. When you first open the app, the screen defaults to a standard back-facing camera setting.

On this screen, you can turn the camera into "night mode," turn on and off the flash, turn the camera around, search nearby snaps, and go to your profile.

To take a photo, press the bottom circular button. Press and hold to take a video. Once you take a photo, you can adjust how long the picture will last (from one to 10 seconds) when it is sent to a friend. Before you send your Snap, you can edit your photo by adding emoji stickers, filters, links or text.

Before you send the snap, you can also save your photo to your memories. Once you're ready to send the photo or video, you get to decide which friends see it or if you want to add it to your Snapstory, which is discussed in depth later in this guide.

Customizing your profile

Snapchat is an unconventional social network in that it doesn't allow users to customize an extensive However, it does offer space for users to provide some information about themselves, such as adding a bitmoji and username.

At the default screen, the ghost or bitmoji in the left-hand corner leads to your profile. Here, you can view your Snapchat score, which is the total number of Snaps you've sent and received.

On your profile is a yellow square, which is generated into QR codes, says TechCrunch. Rather than searching for a user manually, a user can focus their Snapchat camera on another user's code to add them without typing their name. Now, you can generate a QR code that links to any web page on the internet through the app.

Interacting with other Snapchat users

There are several ways to interact with other Snapchat users. Unlike most social networks, these interactions are all private, except for the stories feature.

  • Adding users: To add users to your friends list, you'll need to search for their usernames. You can also connect to your phone's contacts list. As mentioned, you can also add users using their specific QR code.

  • Viewing stories: You can view and reply to other users' Snap stories. They will be notified of both.

  • Sending snaps: A more straightforward step, you can send and receive a photo and video content with other users. These interactions are what built and established the entire platform. If you screenshot a Snap, the sender of the Snap will be notified.  

  • Instant messaging: With the instant messaging feature, you can chat privately with users. When you reply to a user's specific Snap sent to you, or a portion of their Snap story, your reply will be sent as an instant message. If you screenshot an instant message, the sender of the message will be notified.

  • Sending Snapcash: You'll need to activate this feature in your Settings and link with a credit or debit card, Business Insider describes, where you can also view your transaction history and add a security code to appear before each transaction. You can enter how much you want to send to a user through an instant message. The company advises against sending money to users you don't know personally.

Snapchat stories

Snap video or photo is added. Although no story is too long, you need at least one photo or video to compile a story. Portions of the story can be deleted at any time.

You're able to see which and how many users view your story. That means other users can see when you view their stories. While you can watch a user's story as many times as you want, the user will not be notified of how many times you view it.

A story is a great way to show your audience the daily operations of your business. It gives potential customers an idea of what an average day at your workplace is like. In addition, it gives your employees an opportunity to express their unique personalities.

There are also Live Stories, which allows users "who are at the same event or a specific location to contribute Snaps to the same community narrative," the company explains. Location services should be turned on to contribute. For instance, major cities, including Los Angeles and New York City, have their own Live Stories, which are always ongoing. They can also be oriented around a specific event, such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars.

There are quite a few ways to advertise on Snapchat. According to the company's site, there are three main methods: Snap ads, sponsored geofilters and sponsored lenses. Major brands like Vans, Coca-Cola, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have used Snapchat for marketing campaigns.

Key takeaway: Snapchat allows you to send photos, create Stories, interact with other users and even create ads.

How to advertise with Snapchat

Snap ads are 10-second, full-screen, vertical videos and can offer some type of interactive element, such as a call to action to visit a specific link. Two-thirds of all ads include audio, which play automatically with the sound on. The short clip should provide information about your company and what its products and/or services are.

Gatorade, for instance, once featured an 8-bit tennis game that celebrated Serena Williams' 23rd Grand Slam victory. For more creative guidance and development, check out the company's guide to Snap ad attachments. The possibilities are endless.

Sponsored geofilters

Sponsored geofilters allow users to send Snaps from specific locations. The lenses can cover a specific location, like coffee shops or department stores. For instance, if your business has multiple branches, you can set the geofilters to your specific locations. If you're familiar with the platform, you'll notice major cities and its boroughs have different filters, like Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York City.

Additionally, a geofilter can be also applied nationwide under a certain theme or holiday, like Cheerios' National Cereal Day and Michael Kors' National Sunglasses Day filters.

Many brands utilize geofilters to promote events. In June 2017, Snapchat made it easier for all users to design a custom geofilter. By going to settings and selecting On-Demand Geofilters, there are dozens of templates. You can customize it with colors and words. With pricing starting at $5.99, this is an affordable marketing option for any small business.

Sponsored lenses

Sponsored lenses are more interactive than geofilters. Filters are applied after a video or picture is taken, prior to sending to friend(s) and/or adding to a Snapstory. Lenses have special facial recognition technology, which allows users to become dogs, pretend to be Santa Claus, turn into demons, wear flower crowns and even puke rainbows through the app. It happens in three steps: pretrigger of detecting a user's face, trigger of reacting to the user's expression (like sticking a tongue out or queuing music) and post-trigger of creating the final product.

If your company sells cars, for example, your sponsored lens could have a user driving a new car with a Little Trees air freshener. The company says this product is their most popular, driving on average three times higher brand awareness than mobile norms and two times lift in purchase intent.

Snapchat Discover

In January 2016, the platform unveiled Discover. It's an entirely different part of the app. With it, users view content created by prominent media organizations like Vice, Cosmopolitan and ESPN.

Similar to the Stories feature, Discover stories compile both audio-video and photo content, which links to articles and graphics, through a Pinterest-like dashboard. TechCrunch says you can choose your favorites and send parts of Discover stories to specific users individually.

In 2018, Snapchat launched its own merchandise store that lives inside Snapchat Discover, according to TechCrunch. In the Snap Store, users can buy items such as a dancing hot dog plush doll and a streak hat. Currently, the store only features Snapchat items, however, in the future it could potentially be an in-app commerce platform for other brands, which would be big for small businesses. 

While brands do have the opportunity to advertise within Discover stories, the costs are out of reach for many small business owners. Strike Social reports these ads begin at $50,000 for daily rates.

A note about influencers

If you know anything about DJ Khaled and his Snapchat success, then you know how the platform can reach an audience even beyond the mobile app. The record producer and radio personality's Snapchat account gained attention in 2015. His legacy has since been deemed a "living meme" and "meme in human form" by enthusiastic fans.

DJ Khaled is a perfect example of how much leverage a single influencer can have on Snapchat. These influencers cultivate large audiences that you can potentially market to if you choose to pursue a partnership with them. For instance, it's a great opportunity for product placement. Many influencers promote brands and products for a fee (though it often exceeds its return on investment for companies). Of course, this is an alternative way to advertise that isn't mediated by Snapchat itself.

In 2018, Snapchat added a feature that lets users tag other users. This is something influencers and celebrities can use to tag a company they're promoting. Users can also attach a link to snaps, which is helpful if an influencer is promoting a brand and wants to link to the specific product. 

Key takeaway: You can advertise through branded lenses, filters and geotags, and can also work with influencers that fit your brand on Snapchat.

Snapchat tips and tricks

Now that you understand the basics of Snapchat, here are a few tips and tricks to use the app to your brand's advantage.

  • Document your company's day-to-day operations. Use the app's story feature to walk followers through business operations at your workplace. Give them a sneak, exclusive peak they can't see anywhere else on social media. You can also use your story to host Q&As or showcase new products.  

  • Upload content regularly. Don't let your followers forget that you exist. Use the app regularly to upload frequent, daily content. Snap stories are a good opportunity for this, especially for capturing what it's like to work for your business.  

  • Interact with other users. Many users use the app's messaging feature, so be sure to answer any messages that come your way. The same goes for returning photo snaps.  

  • Sponsor a Snap Ad. Ten-second audio-visual clips are more traditional but allow you the creative freedom to drive an advertisement using video content as you would on Twitter, Instagram or a similar site.  

  • Sponsor a lens. Inspire users to engage with your brand's awareness by bringing it to life. Find a way an average customer would engage with your business's products or services and apply it to a lens. If you sell coffee, it could be as simple as the filter allowing the user to drink coffee. As mentioned earlier, sponsored lenses are the most effective on the entire platform.  

  • Design a sponsored geofilter. If you use Snapchat in any McDonald's across the country with your location settings on, a McDonald's themed geofilter will appear while flipping through your different filters before sending a snap. You can do the same with your business.

Key takeaway: When using Snapchat, you can document daily life at your business, interact with other users, or sponsor a lens or ad.

Additional reporting by Kiely Kuligowski and Adryan Corcione.

Image Credit: whyframestudio / Getty Images
Saige Driver
Saige Driver
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Saige received her bachelor's degree in journalism and telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media coordinator for Aptera and also writes for and Business News Daily. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.