Snapchat and social media marketing: tips and examples for businesses

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The hype around Snapchat was not just a flash in the pan: the app has meanwhile become one of the most important social platforms. Over 150 million users worldwide use the app to capture photos and short videos, decorate or edit them with various functions and then share them with their contacts and “followers” ​​or subscribers. The majority of users are teenagers and young adults, but the number of older users is also increasing slowly.

The photo and video app, however, is one of the toughest to tackle from a marketing standpoint: after all, the campaigns posted here are designed to be ephemeral. The special feature of the application is that the content received is automatically deleted after 24 hours at the latest. There are, however, several successful Snapchat campaigns that demonstrate how to profitably use Snapchat as an advertising platform. To understand this, it is necessary to understand how the application works.

What exactly is Snapchat?

Available for iOS and Android devices, the app is designed to be used on a Smartphone. Basically, it is an instant messaging or photo messaging app that has different social media components  : it is mainly used for recording, editing and sending short videos and pictures as well as for communicating with friends and acquaintances. via Messenger. For this purpose, users create their own account after downloading the application, and can contact other users and exchange information. The application has developed a fairly original approach: all images and videos received with the application are ephemeral.

As soon as you receive a photo or video from a Snapchat user, you cannot watch it twice . After that, the contents can no longer be retrieved through the recipient’s app: they are erased by themselves, so to speak. There is also the possibility to combine several photos into a single “story” or “story” with the app: but even here the contents can only be viewed for 24 hours . 

The transience of the transmitted data may seem strange at first glance: after all, other social networks such as Facebook or Instagram and all classic instant messaging services are strongly geared towards archiving, especially of images. However, the disappearance of content also has its appeal: it is closer to natural face-to-face communication and leaves more room for spontaneity. Plus, due to the ephemeral nature of the content, you don’t even have to worry about planning and taking the best possible shot every time. This provides a certain lightness in communication .

Snapchat features

Each user of the application has a personal Snapchat account . The latter can be used either to send content directly to private contacts in the app, or to publish it as a story, or “story”, for the entire Snapchat community. Businesses can also create their own accounts and provide app users with information, sweepstakes, entertaining content and more. Large multinationals such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Audi, H&M, Lacoste or Louis Vuitton have thus created their accounts on the platform and regularly share Snaps with their community.

The Discover feature also provides a platform for various media companies, which have a dedicated channel on the app. MTV, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, CNN, Cosmopolitan, VICE and many more (mainly English speaking) offer their information and entertainment offers.  

The Discover section has existed since the beginning of 2015, adding professional sources of information to the application’s offer. Over time, however, many new features have been added. This official Snapchat video gives a good overview of the main features of the app and the scope of its content:

However, in order to run a social media campaign on Snapchat, it is necessary to better understand its functions.

Assimilate Snaps

The main function of Snapchat is to create what are called snaps . Snapshots are photos and videos that you take with your cell phone camera. These can be sent to other Snapchat users from your contact list. Users can decorate each of these shots, for example with ready-made images, animations and filters or with drawings and lines of text.   

The filters , that scan a person’s face on camera and who provide a digital mask or animation, are particularly popular. Many filters also have animations based on certain signals (for example, opening your mouth or raising your eyebrows). A well-known Snapchat filter is the variation in which an animated waterfall in rainbow colors comes out of the mouth after opening it. This example shows the creative level of these filters.

Each Snap that you share with other people is automatically deleted from the recipient’s memory after viewing or after a certain period of time. A displayed image closes after 10 seconds at the latest (the sender selects the duration of the photo display) and is deleted after the second opening. The same goes for videos up to 10 seconds long . They can also only be repeated once as a recipient, after which they are no longer available.

Snapchat stories

The way my story  gives you the option to merge your Snaps in a little story. For example, users can document their day or share their impressions of an event with other users. Story content is added to the app’s Snapchat stories feed, in chronological order. So a story can continue to grow throughout the day.

When it comes to story visibility, you can decide that only your Snapchat friends can see your Stories, or you can make your Stories public so that any Snapchat user can see them. In addition, it is also possible to allow only certain contacts to access a story. After you’ve published your story, the content is visible for 24 hours. Then they will suffer the same fate as any other Snap and be erased.

Instant messaging

The app also includes an instant messaging feature that allows you to communicate with one or more people (up to 16) by text chat, voicemail, Snapshots and Snaps. A phone call is also possible between two users, but without video.  

The big difference compared to common messaging apps: Text messages sent via Snapchat messaging are not kept forever by default and will also be deleted automatically after you read them or after leaving the chat. However, you can also save messages individually, for example, if you receive important information.

The background behind the Snapchat app

Due to the volatility of content, Snapchat is fundamentally different from other social media and instant messengers. The concept is particularly appealing to young smartphone users : the majority of users are teenagers and young adults, but the application is now increasingly popular on the smartphones of users over 25 years old. Digital natives and people with a special affinity with technology are among the oldest users. However, Snapchat remains above all a channel through which it is possible to reach many young people.

If you want to create your own Snapchat account, first download the app, install it and enter the necessary information about your account: easy, so far. But after opening the application, some users find it difficult to orient themselves, due to the lack of a classic menu .

Using the app

Many users find it difficult to use the app at first. The way Snapchat works is indeed quite unique . After opening the app, users enter camera / recording mode, in which your camera is automatically activated. The start screen is hardly different from that of the classic smartphone camera: only the Snapchat icon (a white ghost on a yellow background) differs. You can start recording images and videos right away. The overview list of other application functions or the drop-down menu, on the other hand, is initially not available.

Instead of using the normal menu items, you can access the different functions of the app by swiping the screen to different sides of the phone . You can access your account settings by sliding the window down, and your contact list on the left side. On the right side, you will have access to Snapchat Stories. Below the start screen, you access the “memories” function of the application. So it takes a little practice to integrate the structure and operation of this application. Then it becomes more instinctive and easy to use.

Is it really impossible to save Snaps?

Content received with Snapchat cannot be stored permanently in the app (except for messages received via the messaging function). However, there are several tips for saving snaps outside of the app. Saving the received images is still very simple: you can easily take a screenshot with your Smartphone . In this case, the sender will be informed that the recipient has saved the content via a screenshot of the image. There are also special apps for storing pictures and videos unnoticed. While Snapchat prohibits the use of such programs, it cannot actually prevent them.   

Therefore, you can bypass the automatic Snapchat removal. But even if no one creates a copy of the content, Snap Inc (the company that is responsible for the app) has data sovereignty over all content. Ultimately, the data that users send to each other through their app every day ends up on corporate servers.

Snapchat developers have meanwhile added the possibility of saving their own Snaps via the “ Memories  ” function  , implemented since 2016. This function allows users to save snaps in a local Snapchat directory . The images and videos are then stored in the user’s “memories” folder and can be reused at any time.

What are the possibilities offered by Snapchat for social media marketing?

Snapchat has arrived in the field of Business to Consumer (and particularly in the USA): we can see areas of discovery of various companies, but there are also additional marketing possibilities of the service, which are used by companies. A major advantage over other social media platforms is that on Snapchat, the loaded content gets the full attention of users , as you actively open that content and it shows up on the entire smartphone screen.

Like many other social media, Snapchat allows you on the one hand to launch advertising campaigns, and on the other hand to use your account for marketing purposes. Even if the field of paid advertising does not generally belong to classic social media marketing, here we present the possibilities offered by this innovative concept , and in more detail.

Snapchat advertising

After Snap.inc explored various strategies for monetizing the app with users (for example, the ability to pay money to watch Looping Snaps or store their favorite filters), it is now focusing on advertising as the main source of income. There are different advertising formats, sometimes very unconventional , with which companies, products and others can be presented in the app. However, they are not yet available in France, although it is only a matter of time before local businesses can use them.

  • Snap ads : Snap ads are displayed as advertising windows between users’ personal snaps (for example after viewing the contributions in the discovery section or after completing a story). It is possible to display advertising videos in portrait format. A video can usually be up to 10 seconds or even longer as a “  long-form video” . More information about the subject of an advertisement can be obtained by swiping the touchscreen. Additionally, articles or mobile websites can be displayed as Snaps. The App install formatincludes a link with which users can directly install the featured application (this feature works with the Google and Apple app-stores). The cost of these instant ads is not publicly known. Estimates assume that at least US $ 1,000 is to be expected.
  • Sponsored Geographic Filters: This is an illustration that refers to the user’s current geographic location.As soon as you take a photo and a geofilter is available on site, you can decorate your Snap with it. There are geofilters for different cities and towns that make it clear where you are right now. Every Snapchat user can create and post them for free. With geofilters on demand, companies can also introduce a filter in the application, such as a marketing campaign for a store, a restaurant, or an event. If a user takes a snap in a cafe equipped with such a geographic filter, he can insert the specific lettering of the cafe and share it with his friends and thus make an indirect advertisement for the coffee. According to reports, it is already possible to offer a filter for a few hours in a small radius for a few US dollars (the price depends on the period of availability of the filter and its range). As soon as someone is in this area and creates a snap, the geofilter is automatically proposed by the application.
  • Sponsored Filters : It’s even possible to offer your own filters in the app for a while, created in cooperation with the developers of Snapchat. In addition to an animated mask, the company or brand logo appears on the screen. The 20th Century Fox film company, for example, announced the theatrical release of X-Men: Apocalypse in the United States for one day with sponsored filters dedicated to the characters of the film. With filters you can integrate unusual advertising, but at a high price. There are hardly any official figures on this: For a 24-hour campaign, the costs appear to be in a six-figure range. In return, companies receive an advertising format with which users can interact and play, which is not necessarily perceived as advertising: a godsend in the field!

Snapchat marketing through your own account

You can also use Snapchat for marketing purposes, outside of the reserved advertising spaces. However, you need to have some reach . So if you don’t have an account with Snapchat yet, you should set one up and get followers.

The best way to achieve this is to have good content that attracts the target group and promote your own account through different channels. In addition to other social media, you can use your website, newsletter, or other ad formats to promote your Snapchat account. The Snapcode , which each user receives automatically, is helpful in this regard. It works like a QR-Code: as soon as you capture it with the app via the camera, you are redirected directly to the corresponding profile. You can use the code to promote your own Snapchat account on a website or in the print area.

The “memories” function , introduced in mid-2016, gives you much more freedom than before with regard to the media content of a marketing campaign. Previously, you could only use and post content for a Snapchat campaign that you just created with the app. Thanks to Memories, you can now not only make recordings and reuse them at a later date, but also use previously created content for entire photos and stories. In addition, you can also download images extracted from the app to the Memories folder.  

Therefore, creating professional images, graphics and videos is much easier. It is now also possible to use campaign content from other platforms for Snapchat. Instead of the normal black frame, the content that you insert through “memories” has a white frame, as well as an indication of the date it was created, which makes the content pre-produced. visible to all users . 

Portrait of 5 successful campaigns on Snapchat

The following campaigns are examples of marketing opportunities offered by Snapchat. Whether it is commercial and advertising campaigns with entertaining content or the presentation of an organization’s values, the app has already attracted a wide variety of brands. In some cases, a considerable budget was required for this (as in the Gatorade or Taco Bell campaigns). Other actions, however, were simply based on a creative idea (Red Bull or WWF). The following Snapchat campaigns can serve as inspiration for possible marketing actions with the app .


On Super Bowl Day 2016 in the US, Snapchat users were able to use a filter sponsored by the drink brand Gatorade. The entertainment offered here was closely linked to the American football event  : a tradition has it that the coach of the winning team of the American football championship final receives a “Gatorade Shower”. To do this, we throw in a bucket filled with this drink.   

The marketing campaign was part of this tradition: for 24 hours, users of the application could play with the filter and record videos in which they receive an animated virtual shower with the image of the brand. This official Twitter post from tennis player Serena Williams (sponsored by beverage producer) gets a so-called shower, showing what the infamous filter looks like:

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