Snapchat for Small Business – A Primer

Every day for the past several months my news feed has exploded with tons of information around the new darling of social media, Snapchat. Now, for a long while this platform has been geared toward the teen-pre-teen set (and with disappearing messages who blames them for flocking there!) However, recently Snapchat has been rolling out features that are quite attractive to brands.

I decided to take the plunge and determine how small business owners can leverage this trending platform, if it’s worth the effort and how the heck to swap faces with someone. Let’s find out…

Snapchat for Small Business

Let’s start with the basics. What is Snapchat? Snapchat is an image messaging app that currently boasts over 100 million users per day (100 MILLION!) and there are 9,000 snaps shared per second… but you wouldn’t know it because snaps disappear after they have been viewed (except those shared publicly – and those are only live for 24 hours). Which takes me to this ….

Let’s explore Snapchat terminology:

snapchat for small business

Snap:  A ‘snap’ is a video or still image you capture with your device’s camera within the app (note, you cannot upload from your desktop computer), and then send privately to another user, or group of users of your choice,  or upload to your Snapchat story.

Snapchat Story – My Story:  Whenever you take a snap, you may upload it to your ‘story’ – on the app it’s called My Story. A story is a running film reel of any snaps you’ve added to it in the last 24 hours, and is the primary way for brands to publish content on the platform. Stories are publicly viewable to anyone who follows you.  Likewise, you can view the stories of those you’ve connected with.

Friend:  Another user you’ve mutually connected with (both of you have added each other as contacts within Snapchat).

Follower:  If someone adds you but you do not add them back, they are a follower, and while you won’t have them show up in your address book, they’ll still be able to view your stories.

2016-04-26 06.28.17-1Snapcode: A unique, scannable code that make adding new Snapchat friends and opening Snapchat pretty easy! Your Snapcode is located in the center of your Profile Screen, found by tapping in the upper center of the Camera Screen.

Lenses: Embedded overlays located within the app (they must be enabled). These are updated daily (and are quite addictive!)

Discover: A page on Snapchat that includes channels from top publishers that are refreshed every day.

Geofilters: Location specific overlays. Geofilters can be customized with business or personal branding.

snapchat for small business

Live Stories: Compilations of Snaps from Snapchatters at events and locations around the world. Live Stories are curated by Snapchat, and typically appear for 24 hours.

Trophy Case: The more you explore Snapchat the more opportunities you have to win “trophies”. The Trophy Case contains emojis for each achievement  you reach.

Is Snapchat Right for Your Small Business?

Here is the million dollar question – is Snapchat right for YOUR small business? Just like every other media platform, it depends. Snapchat has cornered the market on engaging 13-34 year olds, and while the younger set may not currently be your target audience, they very well may be someday. Users of Snapchat are reportedly responsible for 6 billion video views per day – they are watching more videos on Snapchat than on TV. So, these are super engaged consumers.

snapchat for small business - selfie

Once you decide whether the 13-34 age range is important to your business goals, next ask yourself if your small business would benefit from another communication tool? Creative businesses and media organizations tend to do very well on Snapchat, whereas other segments such as government, construction and transportation may not do so well.

Another question to ask is whether you have a person on staff who is willing to take on the role of head Snapchatter. One of the things that sets Snapchat apart from other social media channels is that stories are updated in real time. This lends to Snapchats charm, but also makes it more challenging for a busy small business owner to really utilize it as a marketing channel.

Why Snapchat for Small Business?

You’re a creative small business interested in reaching a younger audience. Great! Here are a few reasons why you should consider adding Snapchat to your marketing mix.


Marketers have beaten this term to death lately, but the fact is that delivering your message in a way that resonates with your customers is not a trend but a proven method for success. No one wants to hear your marketing message, but everyone loves a good story. Snapchat offers you an opportunity to create that story through video content.

CyreneQ is a prolific Snapchat storyteller. [Follow her!]
CyreneQ is a prolific Snapchat storyteller. [Follow her!]
Opportunity to Stand Out

Let’s face it, all the other popular platforms have become crowded, and that makes it hard for a small business to stand out. Snapchat is a fairly new idea for marketers and therefore, there is not a lot of chatter to cut through. As an “early adopter” you can find opportunities to connect and engage in ways which you may not otherwise be able.


I love, love this technology that Snapchat uses – geofilters. As a small business, you can create your own filter and it pops up when a Snapchatter is within range. Snapchat allows you to upload your logo or trademark, then you can set up a “geofence” for exact targeting of users. This makes for easy, instant promotional opps!


>> How to create an on-demand geofilter <<

Cross Promotion for Blog Content

Because, why not? Once blog posts are live on your website, share a story on Snapchat about it. Additionally, you should download your snap stories and build blog posts out of them. Win, win, win.

Ideas for Using Snapchat

Snapchat posts are immediate, which makes it perfect for all kinds of marketing campaigns. Here are a few ideas:

  • Product creation, a look behind-the-scenes.
  • Employee introductions.
  • Quick tips related to your products, services or expertise.
  • Special previews of yet-to-be released products or services.
  • Flash sale coupons and giveaways.
  • Use it in association with events – either your own or ones you are at.
  • Co-create stories with other brands or your followers.
  • Email capture. QR codes would come in handy here.
HuffPost often posts How-To's on Snapchat.
HuffPost often posts How-To’s on Snapchat.

How to Use Snapchat

Figuring out how to actually use Snapchat has been the tougher than I expected. It’s unlike the other social channels where you log into a feed. Upon login you’re looking through your camera. In order to find all the features, swipe:

  • right  – gets you to all the stories
  • right again – gets you to the Discover page
  • left – gets you to direct messages (snaps),
  • down – gets you to your profile,
  • down again gets you to your Trophy Case.

Now that you know where everything is, it’s time to start snapping. Now, here’s where it gets super tricky because there are lots of tools and tricks to create engaging snaps and there is no way I’ll be able to get to them all. However, here are a few ways to get started:

snapchat collage
Snapchat lenses are addictive!
  1. Use the camera tool of your cell phone and simply snap a pic of yourself or something around you, or capture a video.
  2. OR, after you’ve enabled filters in your settings, when with the camera facing you, place your finger on your face and an array of lenses will pop up. You can take a quick pic or a video using these lenses. This is also where you can swap faces with someone, but we will leave that for a totally different post.
  3. After you’ve captured your image or video, you can use the tools in the upper right hand corner to add emojis, text or draw. This is where your creativity will shine!
  4. Now, SHARE your creation to My Story (these are public for 24 hours) or with individuals (these are private).

There are literally thousands of tips, tricks and ideas on how to use Snapchat. I would highly recommend taking a look at this Udemy Course co-created by Snapchat pros Carols Gil and
Saba Sedighi.

Snapchat for Small Business in a Nutshell

Pros: Snapchat is fun, engaging, not yet overcrowded and creative. There are opportunities to connect in a way that other platforms do not offer. I have been sucked in because they change out lenses every day and find it to be an out-of-the-box way to share tidbits about digital marketing {my user name is: getsusan}. I have found all the other channels have become too similar and Snapchat has been a great way to break up my social media marketing activities a bit.

Cons: It’s hard to tell at this time how small business owners can use it for sales (beyond the obvious brand-building features) and with often-limited staff and resources, it may be difficult to dedicate the time to figure it all out, and actually making snaps happen.

In conclusion, every social media channel is not right for every small business owner, and the same goes for Snapchat. It could be worth signing up and reserving your user name and playing around with it to see how you like it. Remember, the goal of any digital marketing channel is to have an engaging way to stay connected with current and future customers.

Need help with social media? Schedule a complimentary consultation with me here! Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Snapchat. Simply scan my snapcode below and add me as a friend! 🙂

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Helpful Snapchat Resources