Snapchat isn’t a new social network, but it has gained a tremendous amount of traction over the past few months. Most of that can be attributed to the fact that they have been able to shake off their label as a sexting tool as naysayers finally figured out that it’s just a really fun way to connect with friends.
While I’ve spent the past year exploring Snapchat, I’ve advised that small businesses carefully consider whether they are ready to jump in and start using it as a marketing tool. Yesterday, Snapchat rolled out a new update that I believe makes a convincing argument for small businesses (especially in retail and entertainment) to make it a priority and add it to their marketing tool belt.
Snapchat’s Chat 2.0
The new update put a major emphasis on the one on one chat feature within Snapchat. It added image uploads, voice calling, video chatting, audio recording, and GIF/sticker sharing. Some of these features can be found native in your phone right now through apps like iMessage on your iPhone. Purists might not be big fans of this update, but I believe that it maintains their overall goal to be the next best thing to in person communication.
When you can make it easier and more fun to use your app, then people are going to stick around and use it longer. Whether you like it or not, attention is the currency in our world today and apps need you to make deposits of time in order to stay alive. Obviously, Chat 2.0 (the name of the update) opens up new advertising opportunities for Snapchat, but who cares?
So far, their advertising (other than the story ads) have been fairly non intrusive, and I think is something that media companies and advertisers need to move towards in order to stop wasting ignored dollars. If Snapchat can introduce new ways for them to monetize their free app in a way that falls in line with their currently fun filters, then it’s a good fit.
How Small Businesses Need to Leverage Snapchat
Now that I’ve written over 300 words to set this section up, it’s time to dive into how small businesses can leverage Snapchat today for their Internet marketing strategy.
- One on one communication for sales: The new chat features expand the ability for small businesses to tap into one on one social sales. If you’re building a following and adding valuable content to your stories, some of your followers might reach out through private chats. For example, a retail shop selling outdoor gear could have a customer reach out about a hat that you were wearing in your Snap story (see my recent article about product placement). This is the perfect opportunity to make a sale through social media.
- Personalized customer service: Snapchat isn’t just a tool for story telling. It’s a network built for connecting in private conversations as well. Some of your most valued customers will follow you on Snapchat, and eventually (if they aren’t already doing it) they will begin to reach out if they need customer service help. As a small business, this is an opportunity for you to connect in a personal way to show empathy to either fix something or answer questions that your customer might have for you. This is a massive opportunity to connect on a more human to human level.
- On demand geo filters: Possibly one of the least expensive and fun ways to get your brand out is Snapchat’s On Demand Geo Filters. Our Marketing Strategist, Taylor McGlamery, recently launched one and had great success with it at an event. The On Demand Geo Filters allow you to pay for you to launch a filter (image overlay) that can be used within a certain geographical area. You could use this feature for trunk sales, birthday celebrations, private parties, or tap into a special event. Atlanta has neighborhoods like Roswell and Woodstock with thriving downtown areas that throw festivals. This is an opportunity to use the event to gain exposure and get your brand out to festival goers if you’re open OR to bypass a sponsorship and market directly to them.
Before you jump into Snapchat, you need to develop an overall strategy. Know what you want to accomplish from it, how you plan on using it, if you will have content standards, and who will be in charge of managing it. It’s going to take work to do it well. If you’re willing to put in the effort, then I believe you will reap the benefits of it.
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