media update’s Nikita Geldenhuys asked three teams that run Snapchat accounts for South African brands how they do it. Here are their tips on making a success of marketing your brand on Snapchat:

1. Understand Snapchat's unique audience

In February, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, said that by the end of 2016, its largest age group of daily active users in the US was between the ages of 18 and 24. The next largest age group was 25 to 34, followed by 13 to 17.

This means brands everywhere have to customise their marketing campaigns for these younger demographics.

Sam Wilson-Spath, Woolworth’s head of social media and customer content, explains these demographics affect what content the company shares and what products it promotes. “We chose to push our younger brands to this younger audience, for example JT-One, and shy away from more classic content.” 

2. Spread the word through to larger communities

It can be difficult to build an audience from scratch. Justine Nienaber, social media brand strategist for Mondelez’s chocolate porfolio at Wunderman, says creating awareness that your brand is on Snapchat can, however, be as simple as punting your code on other social profiles.

Nienaber is in charge of the social media strategy for Mondelez’s chocolate brands, including content for the 5Star chocolate bar’s Snapchat account. 

Lloyd Wybrow, head of social media at Liquorice, has found that influencers can also help grow your following. Wybrow’s team used Snapchat for Sunglass Hut’s campaign at the 2016 South African Fashion Week.

“There is an opportunity to partner with influencers on Snapchat, who can spread awareness to a demographic that’s hard to reach,” he says.

3. Don't copy content from your other social accounts

Wilson-Spath says that because Woolworths sells a vast range of products, from eveningwear to bread and milk, it has to tailor its social media content for specific platforms.

Her advice? “Make use of the aspect of Snapchat that it is most popular for, instead of copying and pasting content from other profiles. Ask people to screengrab your content, to send you videos, or to share their filters with you as part of your content strategy.”

“Snapchat is gamified. On a personal Snapchat account, the higher your Snapchat points and the more trophies you have unlocked, the better your account is performing – which is also the only way that you can report on Snapchat currently.”

Wybrow believes the social platform is also an opportunity for brands to give consumers unique content. His recommendation: “Create exclusive content on Snapchat that your audience might not receive on other digital platforms.”

4. Play with the tools that mobile offers

“We’ve learnt to rely less on our internal designers and more on our own iPhone content creation skills,” says Wilson-Spath about the Woolworths team’s production process.  

The team has also had to play with several techniques to get the results they wanted. “It’s been a real trial and error process, especially before Snapchat rolled out the Memories function. We tested a lot of techniques.”

5. Migrate your Snapchat skills to other platforms

The Woolworths team extends many of the techniques it learnt to Instagram and Facebook Stories.

Wilson-Spath tells media update that preparing content for Snapchat has been a learning curve, but worth it. “It has helped us upskill for production of streaming video, ‘disposable’ content, and storytelling across other channels as well, such as Instagram Stories and the new Facebook products of the same ilk.”

6. Get the right team for the job

There is a need for immediacy and authenticity on Snapchat, says Wybrow. This means brands need the capacity to be consistent and quick with content and responses, he adds.

In short, employ or train a team that can post content on a regular basis and empower them to respond to users with accurate information in the right tone of voice.

To do this, brands need to loosen up, as Wilson-Spath suggests: “Lose the stuffy corporate persona and relax into it.”

7. Remember Snapchat still has a small local user base

In February, Samantha Van Zyl, public relations manager at Student Village, told media update that Snapchat is quite niche and few South Africans use it compared to other countries.

This poses a challenge for consumers and brands, as Nienaber explains: “Snapchat is very data-intensive. We used 5GB of data covering our first event, which happened over two days. With the data costs in South Africa, this is sadly the biggest barrier to entry.”

This doesn’t mean brands are losing interest in Snapchat. According to the 2017 edition of the SA Social Media Landscape report by World Wide Worx and Ornico, 33% of brands said that they planned to become active on Snapchat in the next 12 months. In the previous survey, only 15% planned to become active on the platform.

The main requirement for acing Snapchat as a marketing channel? Be ready to change the way you do things. Wilson-Spath describes it well: “Live, disposable content is a whole different ball game to more structured social media marketing… It’s a brave new world!”

There are a number of things to consider before you jump in and start using Snapchat to promote your brand. Read our article, Five things South African brands need to know about Snapchat to know what you’re in for.