If you’re like most people over the age of 30, you’re probably wondering what the hell Snapchat is and why people are so obsessed with it. Since it launched in 2011, Snapchat’s original reputation as a way of sharing explicit photos – since they self-destruct quickly from the cloud – has become a thing of the past. That is largely thanks to tech-savvy millennials who want to use Snapchat to share photos and videos (or “snaps”) without enduring the popularity contest of how many comments, shares, and likes their updates get on other social sites.

Snapchat is a one-to-one mobile messaging app that allows people to take a photo or a video with the app, add a caption, doodle, or lens graphic over top (if desired), and then send it off to a friend. The “snap” is viewable for only 10 seconds before it disappears.

A popular alternative to Snapchat’s one-to-one feature is “stories.” It allows you to share a daily “story” through a collection of photos and videos taken over the course of a day. You can release it to all your Snapchat friends or publicly for anyone to see, and the “story” disappears from their Snapchat content within 24 hours. Apart from snaps and stories, you can also use Snapchat as an instant messaging app that allows you to chat live with a friend over video messaging. This face-to-face communication allows friends who are separated by distance to retain their connection.

With celebrities like Jimmy Fallon using Snapchat to share his experiences with fans and with big brand corporations jumping on board too, we wanted to find out how local businesses can use Snapchat to tap into the millennial market and connect with their customers. So, we reached out to Ashley Rose Davidson, Social Media Specialist at dig Online.

VC: Is Snapchat useful for businesses? Why? Yes. The “self-destructing” app isn’t just for smartphone-savvy teenagers but for companies who want to reach their target audience in a creative way. Ad dollars follow eyeballs and these days they are on social media, especially Snapchat. Snapchat has grown from a simple photo- and video-sharing app to a global marketing tool that businesses can benefit from. And with 100 million active daily users, it’s not something to be ignored!

Big brands like Mashable, Target, Netflix, BuzzFeed, CNN, Cinnabon and Disney are using Snapchat as a marketing tool to reach their audience. But smaller to medium-sized companies can also start benefiting from it as a marketing tool as well.

VC: What is the demographic of Snapchat users? The Snapchat demographic falls into the 13-37 age range, so there is ample opportunity to target a more youthful audience for your business. One of the reasons Snapchat is appealing to this generation is because it doesn’t disturb the user’s experience by redirecting them off the platform. All of the content shared on Snapchat allows the user to stay on the app. I believe this is one of the main reasons Snapchat is growing in popularity:  users prefer to stay within the app and are starting to become annoyed with “clickbait” marketing tactics that redirect them off the social network.

Also, it’s one of the few networks to be available via mobile app only. The content is always new and fresh, unlike Facebook and Twitter where a lot of brands are repurposing old content.

VC: How can local businesses use it to connect with customers? Snapchat is great for real-time marketing which then gives followers access to content at live events when they’re unable to attend. You can use Snapchat at community events, tradeshows, or even for business travel. This gets your audience more interested in your business because you’re giving them an original view of who you are and what you do.

You also have the opportunity to deliver more exclusive content that users might only see on Snapchat and no other social media platform. For example, fashion brand Michael Kors uses Snapchat to give their audience a first look at their latest collection before it’s debuted on the runway. Something similar could be used for a local business that’s ready to launch a new in-store product or preview an upcoming sale
or promotion.

You also have the ability to give people a behind-the-scenes look at your business – customers love that! Have fun showing off your company by capturing outings, employee birthdays, office tours, or important milestones worth celebrating.


Written By Lin Parkin