Should I use Snapchat for my business? How do I use it? Any good examples of Irish businesses using it? 

Just when you thought you had mastered the 140 of Twitter, the art of pinning and the minefield that is Facebook, the social media industry decided to throw another curve ball at you. This time, it comes in the form of Snapchat. While this mobile network has been floating around in the depths of the App Store since 2011, it has just started to gain some real momentum.

So, what is Snapchat? In short, it is an image-based messaging app that allows you to take photos and short videos that remain viewable for only a short time. Now you see it; now you don’t. 

What’s the point of Snapchat? 

It might be one the more difficult platforms to ‘get’, but once you’ve become used to ‘snapping’ and all its glory, it is probably one of the most entertaining ways of communicating. Unlike its social predecessors, it provides an all-in-one service where people can use audio, video, text, phone and drawing in one place – making it a much more wholesome experience.

With over 100 million active daily users (most of them under 25) businesses are now starting to weigh in on the action. The platform allows companies to express themselves in an entirely new way, providing a ‘personal window to the way you see the world’. 

snapchat for business

A few simple steps before starting

Like every other network, Snapchat works by following and having followers. In the beginning, you’ll want to find relevant accounts to follow for inspiration and to encourage ‘follow backs.’

The search facility on the app isn’t as straightforward as other platforms. You’ll have to do a little research before you connect with even the biggest names. To add a friend, you’ll need their specific username. This can be found by performing a Google search to see if an individual brand is using it. Another way to track down usernames is by searching for the keywords “follow on Snapchat” on Facebook or Twitter as most brands will, at some point, have asked their followers to connect with them there. Snapcodes can also be a useful source for finding related users to follow.

Attract more followers

If you’re considering using Snapchat for your business, it is likely you’re already active on the other more established networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Use these audiences. Ask them to connect with you on Snapchat. You should also add a Snapchat button to your website that allows people to locate your username to connect with you.

What are ‘snaps and ‘stories’? 

When it comes to connecting with your followers, you can either (1) send snaps or (2) create stories. 

‘Snaps’ are photos or videos taken by you that can be sent to any or all of your contacts. They will remain on screen for a few seconds (depending how you have customised this in your settings) before they are lost to the great abyss (unless the recipient has been sneaky enough to take a screenshot). 

‘Stories’ work a little differently. They can be seen by all of your friends an unlimited number times until the photos and videos expire in 24 hours. They are made up of videos and photos that you have purposely selected to compile together in this format.

One of the reasons the app resonates so strongly with the younger generation is the fun factor it provides. The filters allow you to swap faces, add dog-like features and spew rainbows among other things. You can also add text to your photos or draw on them, making the whole experience personalised and unique.

“People want to feel connected with the products and services they use and expect companies to be more human than ever”

No advertising for small businesses 

There are, of course, drawbacks. Advertising is limited only to big brands with hundreds of thousands of euro to spend. Analysing your success can be tricky with no clear metrics available to measure. As with all infant social networks, these features are likely to be developed by the gurus at Snapchat very shortly.

How and why should your business use Snapchat?

What’s the point then? Why should I use Snapchat?

The primary incentive is the audience. With such a large, and growing, audience, it’s hard to ignore the potential for your brand. Brand awareness is increasingly important for customers. They want to feel connected with the products and services they use and expect companies to be more human than ever. They want to know the face behind the brand. They want the inside scoop. They want to see your fun side. Snapchat is the perfect medium to give the customers what they want.

snapchat for business

Why real-time posting is great for customer service

The fact that the platform relies on real-time posting also offers customers the added benefit of having their queries answered immediately. This is particularly handy if you’re, for example, in the technology industry and can provide users with instructional videos.

Snapchat can also be a great tool for showcasing your product in action: people wearing your clothing, reading your book, eating your food – it’s all up for grabs. Similarly, you can encourage engagement by asking fans to share snaps of them enjoying your creations. Be creative with your calls-to-action. Try and drive them to your website or your store – just make sure there’s a clear incentive for them take this additional step.

When it comes to snapping, you can be as overt or as subtle in your marketing efforts as you please. From office shenanigans and Friday drinks to offering sneak peeks of new products and special offers, the beauty of snapping lies in how creative you can be with your brand. Its entire presence relies on the idea of fun. Businesses don’t have to take themselves seriously here and are awarded a rare freedom in the happy snappy Snapchat land.

What about some Irish companies using Snapchat – any good examples? 

According to the IPSOS MRBI survey, 22% of Irish adults have a Snapchat account with 68% of them being daily snappers. As a result, Irish brands are now beginning to take a real interest in the little Snapchat ghost and all he has to offer.

Big names such Tayto, Paddy Power, and Aer Lingus have found success on the platform, with fans often capturing their “snap” content and sharing it across other media. Other top dogs such as Cadbury’s and Jameson have been making use of the ‘branded filter’ achieving millions of engagements across the UK during peak holidays.

Smaller companies are also getting creative with the app, inviting customers to avail of special offers and discounts. The Field Bar in Kilkenny is a great example of a local business that uses snaps of its events to keep the punters coming in. Another local bar ironically named ‘Sober Lane’, famously used the app to recruit new staff.

One of the most prominent sectors on Snapchat in Ireland is beauty and fashion. Offering sneak peaks, tutorials, and backstage access, there is a world of inspiration to be captured, and it seems the younger generation can’t get it enough. Even the Rose of Tralee, one of Ireland’s more traditional festivals, used the platform to give audiences a glimpse of their glamour, citing massive levels of engagement.

Start snapping

Snapchat appears to have come full circle even with its biggest critics over the past year. Once thought of as merely a fad and pretty much useless for marketing purposes, businesses and marketers are now seeing the platform for all its worth: a truly unique platform to engage a new and growing audience.

If you want to establish yourself on Snapchat, now is the time. If you abandon the idea now before giving it a go and decide to come back to it in a year’s time, you may find it a lot more crowded and difficult to crack.

When setting up your Snapchat company profile, perhaps follow Snapchat’s guide for support.

THE OTHER SIDE: I’m a small business, should I spend time on Snapchat? 

Article by Rebekah Rainey.

Images from Shutterstock. Dean Drobot /