If you’re reading this with only a vague idea of what Snapchat is – or none at all – you’re probably not alone. Snapchat has boomed only in the last few years, and is still most popular among teens – a whopping 41% of teens in the US report using Snapchat.

But while Snapchat might not be the highest on an event marketer’s radar, if you’re willing to experiment with this beloved mobile app, the payoff could be high.

To facilitate this, this second-to-last post in our Marketing to Your Millennial Audience series is focused on this popular video messaging application.

To start off, let’s get into Snapchat 101.

What the heck is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a video messaging application that was created by a group of students at Stanford University in 2011. In the app, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a list of recipients that they choose. These photos and videos are known as Snaps. Users can set a time limit for how long a Snap can be viewed – anywhere from 1 to 10 seconds – after which, they’ll be deleted.

A newer (and popular) feature of Snapchat is “My Story,” content you can create that will stay static for 24-hours and can be viewed an unlimited number of times. An upgrade to this is the “Live” feature, which lets users that are on-location submit pictures and videos to Snapchat headquarters, who then curates hundreds of short clips into 2-3 minute coverage of an event that’s available to all users.

Why the heck should I use Snapchat?

The short answer is that you should use it because attention span is dwindling – fast – and particularly among Millennials. As of last year, 32.9% of Millennials in the US reported using the app – third only to the Big F and Instagram. To understand why Snapchat is appealing to this age group, check out this quote from its founder, Evan Spiegel.

“Snapchat discards content to focus on the feeling that content brings to you, not the way that content looks.”  

Ah, so we need to talk about marketing that makes my audience feel something? Now you’ve got it.

How are other brands using Snapchat?

  • Providing behind-the-scenes footage. See how the stars of HBO’s Girls used Snapchat to engage with their fans.

  • Pushing coupons and promotions. GrubHub used the Snaps to feature photos that end in promo codes for delivery.

  • Connecting with users by asking them to send them Snaps back. Dove used this technique, asking users to send them selfies and share their feelings about self esteem.

  • Paying for ads featured in the “Live” section of Snapchat – a 2-cent per view cost that can add up to $400,000.

Now that you’ve got a better idea (we hope!) of what Snapchat is, let’s talk about how we can use it engage your millennial audience.

1, 2, 3, Snap!

If you’re ready to start experimenting with Snapchat, here’s where to start:

  1. Start an official account for your venue. We’re including a handy guide by digital strategist Ross Simmonds that reviews everything from starting an account, to changing your settings so that anyone will be able to view what you post. Check it out at the end of this post.
  2. Make use of the “My Story” feature – every time you make a Snap, elect to add it to “My Story.” Make sure you change your settings so that “Everyone” can view your Story (instructions in the SlideShare below!).
  3. Create Snaps! This is something no marketing company could do for you, and probably the point where you grab that intern at your office (or get yourself an intern) and ask them to create Snaps for your venue or event. Take videos behind the scenes! Send Snaps asking users to Snap back and receive a one-time promo code! Give them real-time event info – like how long the concessions line is or where to buy t-shirts – anything that will make them feel special.
  4. Promote! No Snapchat account is worth using if you forget to promote it. Add signage in your lobby or entrance paths. Tweet about your account. Offer first-time followers a promo code – and follow up with one-use codes to track the success of your account.

If you think Snapchat marketing can work for you, we hope you give it a try! Learning how to engage with Millennials is a tricky process – but making use of technology that they already know and love is an easy avenue to converting them to customers and loyal patrons. 

Finally, we'd love to hear from you about using Snapchat for your venue or events. Is this something you want to introduce at your venue? Leave a comment below and let us know how you're using social media to engage your audience.
Some photos and references from One Spot and Hubspot.