How To Snap Your Way To Success in 2017

Following Snap Inc.’s recent IPO, confidence in the network’s growth and longevity has never been higher. If you’re not already building your community on Snapchat, now is the time to start.

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BY Andrew Medal - 10 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Since Snapchat first burst onto the social scene in 2011, the digital world has wondered if and when the young company would go public. Although the application was almost immediately popularized by young Millennials, doubts about longevity and profitability have always overshadowed the company. But through constant evolution and key partnerships catering to distinct audiences, Snapchat has proved its naysayers wrong every step of the way.

In 2016, Snapchat became the fastest growing social media company in the U.S., fueled in part by the 10 billion videos watched on the app each day. This unprecedented growth cemented Snapchat's imminent IPO. The company's IPO exceeded expectations by more than 50 percent, which means that unlike the after-effects of some other social media IPOs (sorry Twitter) its growth will likely continue.

Ahead of its IPO, the company pointed to consistent engagement as the primary means for its success. While the success of Snapchat, or Snap (as it is now officially called) on Wall Street is good news for the Millennials at the helm of the company, it's also good news for brands. Snapchat has become a staple in the lives of Gen Y and Gen Z-ers, which gives brands greater access to these often hard-to-reach audience segments.


Build Your Community

Snap Inc.'s IPO cemented its digital authority, and if you're not already investing in this channel, it's time to start. A 2016 Nielsen study reported that Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18-34 year olds in the U.S., and a large portion of Snapchat's daily user base aren't just idly watching videos--they're creating content of their own.

Snapchat has spawned a new generation of content creators who employ highly original storytelling techniques to entertain their friends and followers. As a brand, you can build connections and channel authority by tapping into this already-active user base. Leverage your existing influencer network for Snapchat story takeovers, where influencers can show your audience the impact that your products play in their daily lives.

Another great way to build real connections is by following your community and replying to their Snaps. This is a channel built for one-on-one engagement, and you'd be remiss not to take advantage of it. Audiences always want to feel seen and heard by their favorite brands, and Snap makes it easy to forge and maintain these personal relationships.


Experiment with Spectacles

Ahead of its IPO, Snap announced plans to broaden the distribution of Spectacles, the company's proprietary camera glasses. The glasses enable users to shoot wide-angle videos without using their smartphones, thus offering more creative possibilities for innovative stories and snaps. Spectacles' hands-free videos gives audiences a first-person's point of view, enabling them to feel as though they are living out the experience themselves.

By incorporating videos shot on Spectacles into your overall Snapchat strategy, you'll be able to give your audiences a more brand-immersive experience. Snapchat's disappearing content lends itself to a natural authenticity; users don't have to worry about creating perfectly stylized videos to live on their profiles forever. Brands using Spectacles should feel emboldened to play with imperfection, because it's often the imperfect moments that forge deeper audience connections.

Additionally, industry experts foresee a gamifying angle to Snap's broader Spectacles play. Because Spectacles videos are shot from a first-person perspective, audiences can actively participate in the content, rather than just passively watch it. With Spectacles, you have the chance to increase your engagement by bringing your audience into your videos and encouraging them to participate.

As you ramp up your Snap strategy and experiment with new features and filters, it's important to remember why you're engaging on Snapchat in the first place: to build connections with audiences. Snap users don't log into their accounts because they love seeing product advertisements. If anything, advertisements are still a sore spot for some users.

Audiences use the Snap network, first and foremost, as a means of communication and entertainment. Yes, audiences have become open to brand content on the app, but only if it offers a value-add to their lives. Your primary intent should not be to sell, but instead, to entertain, inspire, or educate your community.

Success on the network will be short lived if you employ a brand-first approach. Snapchat has always been about creating authentic connections, and Snap users are highly adept at spotting thinly-veiled promotions.