Don’t be fooled by Snapchat’s ghostly logo “Ghostface Chillah.” Snapchat is not something to fear. It’s a scary good marketing tool to embrace. If you’re trying to reach consumers 35 and younger, your local agents, dealers and franchisees should seriously be snapping.

Since Snapchat’s launch in 2011, the mobile messaging app has continued to invest in new technology, evolve its feature set and emerge as a major player in the social media landscape. Today, 60% of all smartphone users are Snapchatters,   contributing to 400 million sent snaps and 10 billion video views daily.

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Now is the time for local marketing pros to grow with Snapchat and reach (arguably) the strongest purchasing power: millennials. Keep in mind that millennials account for 7 out of 10 Snapchatters and are

expected to spend 200 billion annually starting in 2017 and $10 trillion in their lifetimes. In other words, if brands and advertisers want to reach this consumer set, they should start paying attention to where millennials spend their time: Snapchat.

Unfortunately for brands, many are still warming up to Snapchat. In fact, only 5% of marketers are currently using the platform (oh snap – you heard that right!). However, this works in favor for brands that are interested in snapping it up. With less competition comes great opportunity to effectively reach customers and fully incorporate the social platform in your marketing efforts.

As a national brand manager with millennial outreach in mind, you should encourage your local affiliates to shine as early adopters of Snapchat. To help you do that, we’ve compiled a list of four features local businesses can incorporate into their Snapchat local marketing strategy.

1. Grow your audience through ‘Snapcodes’ and ‘Add Me URLs’

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Once you are on Snapchat, growing your audience can be as easy as sharing your Snapcode with other users

Remember, Snapchat is a great way to reach a younger audience, but it starts with finding that audience. Snapchat allows for a few ways to easily gain followers, such as sharing Snapcodes and ‘Add Me URL’s’, but there are ways to gain a Snapchat audience by promoting off of the platform as well.  Think about cross promoting across existing social accounts like Facebook and Twitter, incorporating into other marketing materials such as handouts and flyers and incentivizing through coupons/offers. When all else fails, word-of-mouth marketing is a great way to gain a following from loyal customers

2. Showcase your brand personality with ‘Stories’

Master the art of visual storytelling and humanize your brand. Stories are a compilation of snaps that are available for 24 hours on your feed. Once the time limit is up, they are automatically deleted.

Coach your affiliates to choose wisely when creating their stories, keeping in mind quality over quantity. The greatest stories are authentic, personable and memorable – leaving a lasting impact and driving loyalty in the mind of the consumer. Always look for new and creative ways to effectively reach current and prospective customers. Ask a satisfied patron to review the latest item on your menu. Capture a classic car restoration project from start to finish.  Or offer an exclusive coupon code to redeem on a phone case.  In general, consider the following:

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Coupons
  • Customer Service
  • Demos
  • Expert Tips
  • Fun Facts
  • Live Events
  • Special Offers
  • Teasers
  • Testimonials

Most importantly, affiliates should think about their target audience when creating content for their stories. What works for one small business may not work for another. Because Snapchat is still relatively fresh, encourage them to experiment with categories and lengths, all while tracking their results – coupons and contests to get snappers to visit or reach out via another channel is a great way to do this.

3. Look back on the good times with ‘Memories’

Unlike Stories, Memories offer a glimpse into the past. Memories offer a searchable and sharable archive of videos and images that allow you to create new stories and re-share popular snaps (perfect for #TBT content). Even more exciting, for the first time Snapchat now allows you to utilize content captured outside of Snapchat, like images already on your camera roll.

What does this all mean? Memories allow you to go beyond in-the-moment social promotion and increases the shelf life of your content. It also allows helps brands impose more structured standards for designed and branded content. Simply put, it is a whole new way to produce and share content directly with the hungry millennial Snapchat audience.

Snapchat Memories are still pretty new and have been received with mixed emotions. For some, authenticity is at risk. For others, it serves as an enhancement to storytelling and makes keeping a content stream live a bit easier to manage. Regardless, remind affiliates be thoughtful in their approach to Memories and use them in conjunction with real-time Snapchat stories, never losing sight of the instantaneous , authentic nature of the app.

4. Communicate the when and where with ‘Geofilters’

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Geofilters work for local marketers, it’s that simple. We tried it out at our office and it proved to be a huge success.

Right now, the majority of Snapchat’s paid features such as Discover, Sponsored Lenses and Snap Ads cater toward big brands with big budgets looking for national and global awareness. However, a popular feature small businesses can use is On-Demand Geofilters – in fact, 60% of Snapchat Geofilters are purchased by small businesses.

Geofilters are graphical overlays available to Snapchat users in specific areas. If a user has location services enabled, when they take a snap, they can swipe to use overlays available in their specific location. Geofilters are a popular, less intrusive form of advertising, offering a wide reach for an extremely effective cost ($5 per 20,000 sq. ft. per hour). We actually tested one ourselves back in March of this year. Across our Cleveland, Chicago and Austin offices, we spent $388.86 and received 33,006 views. That’s a cost per 1,000 impressions of $11.78 – meaning 1,000 people are seeing your brand for less than 12 bucks. Not a bad price for awareness, huh?

Educate affiliates to use Geofilters for in-the-moment experiences where it’s natural for a consumer to take out their phone to Snapchat. Think of being on a date night at a restaurant with a special someone, sitting poolside at a hotel with your friends or taking a break to go on a much needed coffee run for work – where have you pulled out your phone to Snapchat? Keep those moments in mind when creating Geofilters for your brand and provide them to local affiliates with guidance on the best times/locations to use them (e.g., in-store events, grand openings or tradeshows).

The future of Snapchat is exciting. Beyond the four features highlighted, there are loads of additional features and strategies affiliates can use to stand out on Snapchat. While the app has faced competition from other platforms such as Instagram, users are staying loyal. Much growth and excitement have already been projected for the remainder of the year, including  ad targeting, potential acquisitions  and even a pending patent that will recognize certain object from within Snapchat. We think it is safe to say– unlike your last snap – Snapchat is not disappearing anytime soon!

Is your brand on Snapchat? What about your local affiliates? What has worked for them/you in the past? Share your experiences and ideas in the comments below!