Captivating Millennial Audiences with Snapchat

Posted on: March 31st, 2016


With over 100 million daily users Snapchat is the third most used social app, after Facebook and Instagram, yet it is still uncharted waters for most. Snapchat can be intimidating; it gives brands an opportunity to have a live conversation with its millennial fans but unlike some channels the audience is in control.

The ability of the audience to lift their finger and stop watching as well as the 24 hour expiry date can be daunting. However, when brands create content with exclusivity that keeps their audience guessing it can positively reinforce the bond between the brand and its fans.

The basics



If you’re unfamiliar with Snapchat basically the app allows you to send videos, known as snaps, at a maximum length of ten seconds to ‘friends’. When sharing a snap the user can elect to post the video to their story which allows it to be viewed by all friends for 24 hours or they can opt to select friends from their list to view it once before it self-destructs.

As Snapchat has evolved more elements have been added. The Discover feature has been created that allows users to watch content from publishers like BuzzFeed,, Foxsports and MTV. The Live Stories feature allows real users to submit videos that relate to a specific event or location to be added to a stream selected by the Snapchat team.

Just this week, Snapchat has added a new messaging format Chat 2.0, allowing users to communicate one on one with text, video notes, audio notes, video calls, audio calls and stickers with the ability to easily switch through the modes as the conversation goes on.

Why should a brand use Snapchat?

Besides the large number of users, Snapchat is a great way to create cost effective content in the way millennial’s like to view it – snackable 10 second videos. The beauty of Snapchat is that the audience isn’t after stylised, heavily produced content – they want live, authentic, behind the scene updates and exclusive access. The key to creating Snapchat content is to remember that it is in essence live (or ‘stories’ expire in 24 hrs) so think about what you as a user would want to see. Snapchat is a channel where the viewer gets a true insight into the brand and what is happening.

Clothing brand Free People sends its snap chat friends sneak peeks of its latest collections, an inside look at the office and even encourages fan input with its ‘Question Wednesday’. This content is easy to create and the varying nature keeps the audience engaged.

Free People


Building an Audience

A quick way to build your initial Snapchat audience is to take advantage of influencers with large social media followings. During New York Fashion Week, Tommy Hilfiger enlisted model Gigi Hadid to take over the brands Snapchat for a day. Gigi tweeted to her 13 million followers that she would be sharing backstage footage on Tommy Hilfiger’s Snapchat.

The footage that Gigi posted from the Tommy Hilfiger Snapchat ranged from hair and makeup tips from creative directors, the exciting vibe behind stage prior to the show, Tommy and the front row arriving, sneak peeks of the collection and chats with the other models.

Gigi x Tommy

If you don’t have the budget to enlist an influencer, use your existing social media channels to encourage fans to join you on Snapchat. Dominos UK used Snapchat to create a short movie ‘Dough to Door’ that was posted on the brands Snapchat story.

The ‘Dough to Door’ movie followed a delivery driver who was abducted by aliens with a sequence of random letters throughout the film that contributed to a unique discount code. Fans on Dominos other social platforms were encouraged to join them on Snapchat with the likelihood of a discount on their next online order.

Dominos tweet


On- Demand Geofilters

Recently introduced, Snapchat geofilters allow users to add a filter in the form of fun labels and drawings dependent on location. Geofilters are available in the US, the UK and Canada, and will come to more locations shortly. For brands this is a great way to disguise advertising as an amusing add on and is less intrusive as they are optional.

For users, it is quite fun to play with the filters and there is a certain status in using them, since they can only be utilised in select locations. McDonald’s was the first brand to use sponsored geofilters in the US last year enabling fans to decorate Snapchat posts with double cheeseburgers and fries.

 Brands with large scale events are taking advantage of Snapchat’s live distribution by partnering with the app to create a live story. Snapchat defines these live stories as ‘a curated stream of user submitted Snaps from various locations and events’.

Live stories have been used for the Oscars, NFL Superbowl, Australian Open, Mecca and even the US Election Day. According to Re/code, the three-day Live Story Snapchat did around Coachella back in April generated 40 million unique viewers. Hosting a Live Story event involves a larger scale partnership with Snapchat.

Live Stories


Integrated Social Media Campaigns

Snapchat can be used as a valuable element in larger social campaigns. WWF Denmark created a highly successful integrated social campaign in which it used Snapchat to send out images of endangered animals with the tagline ‘Don’t let this be my #lastselfie’. A call-to-action to screenshot the image and share across other social media platforms was successful with over 40,000 twitter users posting the images in one week.

These emotive images tied in the expiry function of Snapchat to the looming threat of expiration that endangered animals face. The campaign allowed WWF to raise global awareness and reach their fundraising goal for the month in just three days.


Chat 2.0

The latest update for Snapchat includes Chat 2.0. This is a huge new feature for Snapchat turning it into more than just a video app with the ability to easily skip between video or audio calling, texting, sending photos, stickers and leaving audio messages in a continuous interaction.

Snapchat has built the Chat 2.0 function to imitate conversation, “What we love most about the new Chat 2.0 is how easily you can transition between all these ways of communicating — just like you do in person”, the Snapchat team said.

These Chat 2.0 conversations are only between two people at the moment but surely there are plans to create groups to rival WhatsApp and Facebook’s Messenger. If so, that’s where Chat 2.0 could get interesting for brands, providing them with the tools to have a live conversation in multiple mediums with their fans.

With the large millennial audience and the app constantly changing to keep them engaged, Snapchat offers a wonderful opportunity for brands to converse with their audience. As the content disappears in 24 hours there’s little risk for brands to try something new – so why not get creative and snap away!



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