It wasn’t long after Snapchat’s debut in 2011 before a few innovative brands leaped on board and found ways to make the platform part of their marketing strategy.

Those brands quickly transformed Snapchat from an app that was purely a social toy into an important marketing influencer, especially among Millennials. Now, Snapchat is the one causing transformations as brands wake up and realize that they need to revise their marketing tactics to appeal to the changing tastes of a new generation of consumers.

Why Is Snapchat Worth Your Attention?

If you haven’t already guessed, it’s high time your marketing strategy started to include Snapchat.


It’s one of the few places you can readily reach a younger audience. Facebook has become an “adult” social platform, maturing quicker than even its earliest users. Younger users don’t really want to hang out on the same social platform their parents and grandparents are using. Plus, the text-laden posts of many other platforms don’t appeal much to digital natives who prefer visuals over words.

Baby Boomers and Generation X users tend to forgo Snapchat entirely, but Millennials and Generation Z have embraced it as their own. Consider the following stats:

  • 60% of the people on Snapchat in the U.S. are under the age of 25.
  • 30% of U.S. Millennials regularly use Snapchat — and 78% of consumers aged 18 to 24 are on the platform!
  • Half of all male college students are on the platform, as are 70% of their female counterparts.
  • Users spend an average of 34.5 minutes on Snapchat every day — and 528,000 snaps go out every minute.

It’s really not surprising that Snapchat resonates so well with younger consumers. Snapchat is a strictly mobile platform, which makes it uniquely suited to consumers that use the internet on the go. That’s particularly significant when you realize that most people in Generation Z don’t even recall a time when they couldn’t connect to the internet through the phones in their hands. Snapchat is also supremely visual in nature — which also appeals to digital natives in a way that mere words never will.

Social still plays a big role in consumer purchasing decisions of all ages. In fact, Millennials and Generation Z may even be more accustomed to connecting with brands through the internet than those in the Baby Boomer set and Generation X — but the youngest two generations are moving away from the platforms used by their seniors. So, if you have any interest at all in reaching this country’s youngest sets of consumers, Snapchat is where you need your message to be.

How Is Marketing Your Message On Snapchat Different?

On Snapchat, you have to connect with consumers through a different set of rules. Although Snapchat now has messaging, Stories, and a Discover feature that lets you target specific viewers, you can’t rely on words to connect with your followers. You have to learn to think — and communicate — visually.

How else is the marketing process different for Snapchat? Because of the fleeting nature of Snaps, urgency is important. You have to stay on top of trends more than ever before — consumers expect brands these days to be responsive to what’s happening in the nation and world at large.

More than ever, brands also need to be authentic and personal in their approach. Millennials and Generation Z have been bombarded by advertising messages since birth. If you simply try to sell them on a product, you’ll bore them and they’ll tune you out — because they want to interact and engage.

How does this translate into action? If you want your brand to cut through all the noise on Snapchat, you need to:

  • Stay current
  • Think visually
  • Be simple and brief
  • Be willing to entertain.

Which brands have figured out the formula? Let’s look at a few examples:

Netflix + Stranger Things

Netflix did it with its campaign promoting Stranger Things. It employed immersive visual technology to let users walk right through the main character’s creepy home and explore the set. The promotion was timed perfectly to capitalize on the start of the new season and provided a fun, engaging way to get followers involved and excited about the show.

Dunkin’ Donuts + National Donut Day

Dunkin’ Donuts keyed into National Donut Day and let fans use a lens that turned their heads into giant donuts. They did something similar by rolling out a “Donut Pop” game on Halloween. They followed up with a holiday-themed selfie lens that used augmented reality to transform surroundings into a winter wonderland and users into virtual reindeer. Each event helped promote the chain’s loyalty and rewards programs.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — The Musical + Opening Night

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — The Musical celebrated the lead up to its opening night on Broadway by capitalizing on Snapchat’s geolocation abilities to hide special “Golden Ticket” filters around New York City. Followers who found one and took a Snap got free tickets and other prizes. That let consumers feel like they were almost a part of the story. Plus, promotions across other social platforms helped create a bigger buzz around the show.

Were these games and filters and snaps fun for consumers? Absolutely. Entertaining? Of course! They were also very current, tied directly to a specific goal, and simple for users to use and follow — which is ultimately why they were successful.

Ready? Start Snapping!

Brands and small business marketing services can’t afford to overlook the emerging Millennial and Generation Z consumer force. You’re not going to connect with a majority of those consumers on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Snapchat is where they’re converging — and they expect you to meet them there.

If you want a Snapchat campaign to be effective, you have to lighten up a bit. Be willing to amuse your viewers a little. Trust that they’ll be intrigued enough to look harder into what you have to offer. It’s a different approach than you’re probably used to using — but it’s the only one that works for this particular platform and audience.