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11 February 2016

To snap or not to snap? 5 steps for finding out whether you should consider using Snapchat in your campaigns

Snapchat is hot! The instant messaging app that allows you to send photos or videos (these are the ‘Snaps’ in Snapchat) that can only be seen by the receiver for a maximum of 10 seconds, has reached 6 billion daily video views worldwide. More importantly, Belgium is the country with the second highest usage of Snapchat amongst youngsters, with 46% of teens using the app. (Webindex, 2015)


The self-destruct functionality of the Snaps is key for the success of Snapchat. It minimizes certain inhibitions that come with more permanent communication channels and therefore makes interactions more authentic. But more than just users can benefit from Snapchat. Snapchat’s disappearing posts offer huge potential for brands as well because the risks are lower. This gives them more room to experiment. No wonder an increasing number of companies are looking into Snapchat for sharing content. But is Snapchat really the right way to go?

The answer is simple: no, it isn’t! Snapchat is definitely not suited for every brand. But for some advertisers, it may become an effective new communication tool for sharing certain messages with their target audience. To find out if Snapchat is the way to go for your brand, work your way through the 5 steps listed below before you consider using it:

1. Check to see whether your prime target audience is active on Snapchat

Just like for any other online channel, you should first check if your target audience is using it. Snapchat is popular primarily amongst teens and millennials (Gen Y), more specifically the 13-25 age group. If for instance you are a clothing brand with a clothing line specifically aimed at teens, Snapchat may be an online channel to consider.

2. Check whether your brand, product/service is suited for Snapchat

Snapchat is used to send pictures or videos easily and quickly to peers. The majority of these Snaps are sent at the time a specific ‘micro-situation’ actually occurred. Research has shown that more than 60% of these recorded ‘micro-situations’ portray something funny. This means that Snapchat is not the right medium for every type of product or service. For instance, if you are a bank selling new investment options, Snapchat is probably not the way to go and LinkedIn advertising could be a better strategy. However, Snapchat may be an interesting channel, for instance, for an energy drink company to show some raw footage of one of their sporting events.

3. Think about the added value of Snapchat

Just like any other social media channel, Snapchat may not be a standalone option, but could be a part of your digital strategy. When setting up your digital (content) marketing plan, look to see where and how Snapchat might add value during your campaigns. If you can’t see any opportunity at the moment where Snapchat could add extra value to your brand story in addition to your existing channels, then don’t use it. It’s better to let it rest for a while and wait for a campaign or opportunity where Snapchat is more appropriate (to make sure you don’t drive people away as Snapchat could have relevant content for them in the future).

4. Set up a (content) marketing plan

Snapchat is a highly intense medium: on average, users send way more Snaps per day than they post photos or status updates on Facebook. If you decide to host a Snapchat account, make sure you are able to keep up with this higher frequency. During a (short) campaign or live event, it is recommended to send multiple snaps a day so that you don’t lose momentum. Even then, remember that the quality of the Snaps (both content and picture) is key. It may be of value to set up a content plan to define upfront which and how many Snaps you are going to send each day during your campaign. Make sure you don’t simply copy the content posted on your other online channels or send out visuals of product offers, because they will not work on Snapchat. Worse than that, they will drive your followers away. Snaps should be fun: so a brand should interact with its followers like one of their peers, instead of like a company trying to sell something.

5. Let your target audience know you are using Snapchat

If you are convinced that Snapchat can add value to your overall online (communication) strategy and you’ve set up a content plan, the next step is to generate awareness about your brand’s existence on Snapchat. Facebook in particular (and to a lesser extent Instagram) can be a good medium for reaching that goal, since it provides you with an extensive number of options for targeting your key audience (teens and millennials) and offers ‘install my app’ ads. The extra benefit of an ad or post on Facebook is that you can insert a unique QR-style code which people can scan with the Snapchat app, allowing them immediately to follow your account.

So, you've been through all the steps and are convinced that Snapchat can add value to your online brand story? Let’s take on the challenge! Grab a phone, create an account and start making Snaps based on your digital content plan. You will quickly see that Snapchat is still mostly a trial-and-error medium – even more so when it comes to analyzing the performance of your Snapchat account. But as you will see, that’s a whole other story, so I leave that for another blog post…