In 2011, the idea for a new photo sharing and messaging app was born in a dorm room at Stanford University. The concept was simple: Create something that made it easier for people to communicate, in the founders’s words, “with the full range of human emotion — not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.” The app they created was called Picaboo. If that doesn’t ring a bell, don’t be surprised. Within a year, they were operating under a new name that you undoubtedly will recognize: Snapchat.
Merely eight years after the original idea was born, more than 290 million people around the world use Snapchat every day to communicate with friends and interact with the brands and influencers they love. Snapchat also reports that on average, people spend 30 minutes per day on the app, opening it as many as 20 times throughout the day.
For marketers and brands looking to connect with younger, mobile-first audiences, Snapchat is a potential goldmine for finding and acquiring new customers, and fortunately, they’ve built a fairly powerful suite of advertising tools that brands can now leverage.
What makes it even more exciting is that they’re very motivated to work with great brands and advertisers to help you be successful, as paid media buyer, David Herrmann, was quick to note in a recent tweet:
If you’ve decided to start advertising on Snapchat and want to do everything in your power to get the most out of your investment, keep the following four tips in mind as you move forward:
Know Your Why
There are three main objectives you can choose from when you start building your ad campaign in Snapchat: Awareness, Consideration and Conversions. When your objective is Awareness, you’re creating ads that help people on Snapchat get to know your brand and products better. When your objective is Consideration, you’re creating ads that help you drive app installs, website visits, and new leads for your business. When your objective is Conversions, you’re creating ads that help you acquire new customers and drive more sales for your business.
Knowing your objective up front will help you decide which ad format you should use, what your ad should look like, how people should interact and respond to your ad and how success will be measured.
Test Different Ad Formats
There are a handful of different ad formats that you can choose from when you begin building your ad campaign in Snapchat. The format you choose will depend on what your objective is, who you’re trying to reach and how you want viewers to interact with and respond to your ad. These are your options:
1. Snap Ads: These are full-screen ads that can be used for all business objectives. They can appear as videos, photos, GIFs or cinemagraphs. Snap Ads allow you to attach specific call-to-actions for viewers to interact with, like installing an app or visiting a website.
2. Story Ads: These ads show up when users view the Discover section of the app. They are best utilized when your objective is to drive conversions, generate leads or boost engagement and awareness.
3. Collection Ads: These are ads that allow Snapchat users to view and shop for the products you sell. They are best for retailers and e-commerce brands.
4. AR Lenses: Lenses are what Snapchat is known best for. They allow users to alter their appearance using augmented reality. These types of ads are ideal for driving engagement and boosting brand awareness.
5. Filters: These are ads that display as another layer on top of the snap content that Snapchat users create for themselves and their followers. They are best used when tied to a specific location (think restaurant or club) or event (think 5K or pop-up shop) that users will visit in real life.
To build a winning ad on Snapchat, experiment with some or all of the ad types mentioned above until you learn which one performs best with your audience.
Focus on Delight
To be successful on Snapchat, you also have to go out of your way to focus on delighting the people who are going to see your ad. People who use Snapchat open the app multiple times per day because they want to be entertained. They don’t want to feel like they are constantly being sold to by brands competing for their attention.
When you think about ad ideas, try to put yourself in your customers’s shoes. Think about what makes them smile, what grabs their attention, what makes them want to interact with you. Create ads that allow people to have fun while learning more about your business and products.
Learn from Other Advertisers
If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea for an ad or your ads aren’t performing as well as you’d like, remember to spend time learning what’s working for other brands and companies that are advertising on Snapchat. You can find examples of successful ad campaigns by following brands on Snapchat, performing a quick Google search for blog posts and case studies about Snapchat advertising or by exploring the ad inspiration library that Snapchat maintains on its business section. You can filter this library to show successful campaigns by industry, objective and ad type.
If you’re trying to decide if Snapchat would be a viable revenue or lead generation channel for your business, the best and fastest way to find out is to start experimenting. Launch a few campaigns, measure performance, make adjustments, launch a few more campaigns, and before you know it, you’ll have the data and learnings needed to decide if it’s a channel that is worth investing in on a more permanent basis.
Disclaimer: I own a very small handful of SNAP stock, but not enough for it to matter to me if they succeed or fail. I write about them because they are an effective, and often underutilized, advertising platform.