The Beginner’s Guide to Using Snapchat for Business avatar
The Beginner’s Guide to Using Snapchat for Business

Beginner's Guide To Snapchat

Social media is booming – especially when it comes to marketing for small businesses.

But even if you’ve spent a lot of time expanding your marketing efforts onto various social media outlets, you may be still be missing out on one of the fastest growing platforms available:


71 percent of Snapchat users are under 34 years old, and the social network boasts 100 million active users in early 2015, so imagine today it is far greater. It’s definitely worth learning about and an obvious avenue for marketing success — especially if your small business targets a millennial audience (although early adopter older adults are growing in their use of the platform).

Still not sure if you should try Snapchat for your small business?

Consider these statistics:

  • The percentage of college students who would likely purchase a product from a brand that sent them a coupon over Snapchat is 58 percent.
  • The percentage of Snapchat users who contribute content every day is 65 percent.
  • The percentage of marketers who actually take advantage of Snapchat is a tiny 1 percent (meaning you can be an early adopter to gain a competitive advantage in your industry!).

Are you starting to see why Snapchat could be so valuable to your business? Acting sooner, rather than later give you an advantage for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s easier to stand out early in the evolution of a new social channel and businesses first to a platform can gain more followers
  2. From an advertising perspective, Snapchat has very few advertisers. For very little money you can buy geo filters that sit over your place of business

If so, let’s talk a bit about how it works.

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a unique social media app that allows you to send pictures and videos – called “Snaps” – to other users. The media you send can only be viewed for 10 seconds or less (you can specify the length), and then it disappears forever.

You can also add a Snap (or series of Snaps) to create your own “story,” which can be viewed by just your followers or everyone who has a Snapchat account for 24 hours.

Snapchat now generates more than 10 billion daily video views each day and reaches an incredible 11 percent of the entire U.S. general population. And those numbers are only growing by the month.

The main reason Snapchat is getting the attention of marketers is that it allows users to interact with a brand in a uniquely personal way. Instead of seeing carefully planned content from your brand, your audience can catch a candid, behind-the-scenes look at your business.

Your followers see your business as it truly is – made up of real human beings. It’s easy to understand how this can help you build stronger connections and create more brand loyalty.

On top of that, if you use Snapchat regularly, you can keep your brand in the forefront of your audience’s minds (mind share). Then, when they’re making a purchasing decision between you and your competitors, chances are more likely to choose you because of the relationship you’ve built with them.

Sounds like a powerful way to market your small business, right?

It is, but if you want to succeed, you’ll first have to learn how to grow a loyal following on Snapchat.

How to Grow a Following on Snapchat

Unlike other social networks like Twitter and Instagram, you can’t simply use hashtags to get discovered by your audience. They have to actually find and add you – not the other way around.

Even if you wanted to add users so they could add you back, you can’t just search for them by using vague terms – you have to know their Snapchat username to add them.

In other words, Snapchat has no native discovery features.

To grow a following on Snapchat, you must use your online presence and your other social media sites to create awareness and entice people to follow you.

Here are a few easy methods to help you get started:

Use the “Add Me URL” feature.

Using this feature, you can share a custom URL on social media that allows your audience to quickly add you to their Snapchat connections. To do it, replace “yourusername” in the following URL with your actual Snapchat username:

Want to see this feature in action?

I went to the “Add Me URL” for TechCrunch on my phone, clicked “Open Snapchat,” and the Snapchat app immediately showed this prompt on the screen:

snapchat techcrunch

And just like that – I could add TechCrunch as a connection in one click.

When you use this strategy, keep in mind that it only works on mobile. But don’t let that discourage you. Since mobile devices account for 76 percent of all time spent on social media in the United States, you can feel pretty confident that this method will help you build your following.

Promote your username in your social media profiles.

This method is pretty straightforward – simply promote your Snapchat username by putting it in your profile to encourage people to add you. Here’s how Gary Vaynerchuk does it in his Twitter bio:

garyvee twitter profile with snapchat

You can see that he also uses his “Add Me URL” as the link in his bio. If you’re looking to focus heavily on attracting a Snapchat following, you may want to use this strategy as well. Otherwise, consider simply putting your username in your bio – that way, you can still use your main bio link to draw traffic to your business website.

Don’t limit yourself to your social media profiles, though – you can also share your Snapchat username in your email signature, your blog posts, and on your company website.

Share something relevant to your audience and promote it.

Plan an interesting series of Snaps to share with your followers in your Snapchat story, and post all the details on your social media account along with your Snapchat username and/or QR code image.

Here’s how Warby Parker recently used this strategy on Twitter to drive Snapchat engagement:


By doing this, they give their followers an incentive to connect with their brand on Snapchat. So, sell the value of the content you share too if you want to build a tribe of engaged followers!

Use your Snapcode image as your profile picture on other social networks.

Snapchat has singlehandedly made the QR code cool again.

To find your Snapchat QR code image – also called a Snapcode – open Snapchat and go to the screen where you can take a photo. Then, swipe down. Once you do, you should see your QR image and a few other options.

Take a screenshot, and crop it so that it only includes the Snapcode image. Then, you can use the image as your profile picture on your social media accounts. Here’s an example of how popular retailer Anthropologie does it on Twitter:

snapchat antrhopologie

Now that we’ve talked about how you can grow a following on Snapchat, let’s discuss several strategies you can use to drive follower engagement.

Use on-demand geofilters (paid option).

After a user takes a photo or video on Snapchat, they can swipe right or left to put a filter on their photo. Some of these filters are custom geo filters, which place a design overlay on the photo/video. These filters are made available to specific users based on their location.

Here an example of a geo filter that can be accessed by users in Cape Cod:

snapchat geofitler cape cod

The cool thing about custom geofilters is that they can also be used to advertise a nearby business or event, like these:

snapchat geofilter disneyland snapchat geofilter carson ca

If your small business is a brick and mortar store, consider creating your own branded geofilter and then pay Snapchat to show it for whatever time frame you decide covering the geography you want (see below screenshot). With geofilters, you set the geography in Snapchat’s ad platform where you want them to show. Below you can see the green rectangle of a geofilter sitting over a store in a mall. Top left shows the size of your geofilter in square feet, below that is the cost to run the geofilter, and then top right are the dates of running this geo filter. Anyone that takes a photo within that green-targeted area using Snapchat will see your geo filter and have the option of using it.

snapchat geofilter target map
Snapchat geofilter target map.

Encourage customers to take a Snap using the geofilter. This is a great way to build local awareness for your business.

You could also create a geofilter for your next company event to build hype around it and strengthen the event’s branding.

Ready to create your own geofilter?

Head over to this page on the Snapchat website to learn more and get started!

Invite followers to reply/participate.

One way you can do this is to run a contest. Here’s an example of how GrubHub used this tactic by putting 4 consecutive Snaps in their story:

snapchat grubhub

Once you choose your winners, you can simply reach out to them using the chat feature on Snapchat, get their information, and send them the prize.

Not interested in running a contest?

Another tactic you can try is running a survey in your Snapchat story. To do this, first, share a Snap to your story letting your followers know what your survey is and asking them to screenshot the choice they want to vote for – Snapchat will notify you when someone takes a screen shot. Then, you can share a Snap of each option to your story.

snapchat maybellie survey

After posting the Snap above to their story, Maybelline shared swatches of different lipsticks (one at a time) with their followers.

Using this tactic, you’ll be able to see how many people screenshotted each choice and determine which option got the most votes. This is an easy way to drive engagement and make your customers feel heard by your brand!

Share discount codes.

Everyone loves a good discount. Why not use that to your advantage on Snapchat?

Create a discount code, and simply share an image or video that includes the code with your followers.

The fashion label Asos used Snapchat’s outreach potential to send out discount codes to all their loyal followers, like this:

using discount codes in snapchat

When your followers see this sort of offer on your Snapchat story, it’ll make them far more likely to keep up with your business’s social media presence – and buy more of your products.

Share a call-to-action for users to visit your site.

If you want to increase traffic to your website, take advantage of your follower count on Snapchat by posting a call-to-action to your story.

All you have to do is take a picture or video of something relevant to your audience and include text with a URL that will direct your followers to your website.

Here’s an example of a call-to-action Starbucks used on their Snapchat account:

starbucks snapchat

Got a long URL? Use a service like Bitly to shorten it so your followers can quickly make note of your site.

Share new product sneak peeks.

Showcasing your new products is a great way to drive sales using Snapchat.

Here’s how Kylie Jenner, reality TV star and cosmetics company owner, uses Snapchat to give her followers a sneak peek of upcoming lip colors:


By sharing swatches of her not-yet-released lip colors, she builds hype and anticipation for those products. On top of that, when she shares behind-the-scenes, exclusive information like this on Snapchat, she gives her fans an incentive to keep following her there.

To use this strategy for your business, all you have to do is post a Snap to your story featuring your new product or service. Get creative, and try to think of fun, engaging ways to feature it so you can entice people to make a purchase when the product is released.

Final Thoughts

If you follow the tips outlined in this post, you should be able to gain a wider social media presence and meet your marketing goals on Snapchat.

Remember that Snapchat is definitely one of the newest social media outlets out there. If you start building your brand on it now, you’ll be a huge step ahead of the competition as Snapchat catches up to Facebook and others.

So, do you think you’ll use Snapchat as part of your social media marketing strategy?

Let me know in the comments below as it will help the community! If you liked this post it would be great if you shared it too.

And if you’re on Snapchat, follow me here,

Toby Danylchuk Snapchat