Snapchat app open on iPhone
Marketing Social Media

5 Brands with Highly Successful Snapchat Marketing Strategies

7 Minute Read

Developing a Snapchat marketing strategy can be overwhelming for brands that are just beginning to confront this wildly popular social platform. While you may feel spooked by the dancing ghost, there’s no need to panic. Brands have found ways to join the dance party and do it well. Now that you know the basics of Snapchat marketing from my first post in the series, it’s time to look at how the best brands on Snapchat are taking advantage of what the app has to offer for content amplification.

1. McDonald’s: Make it a Big-Snap

The Disappearing Story: Following Taco Bell‘s lead, McDonald’s was one of the first major brands to join Snapchat. It teased, promoted, and created its account in February 2014 and got right to work. With Lebron James scheduled to film a commercial for the brand, McDonald’s captured its audience from the start by giving followers exclusive access to behind-the-scenes Snaps of Lebron’s commercial.

McDonald's Twitter

Fast forward two years through Snapchat’s evolution, and McDonald’s was impressively still at the forefront of Snapchat marketing. The fast food company was the first brand to pioneer the use of Snapchat’s geofilter feature, which overlays at least one million Snaps a day. In June 2015, Snapchat created sponsored geofilters that would become available for any Snapchat users in or near a McDonald’s.

The Lasting Impression: Content like the Lebron Snapchat Story particularly engaged users because it gave the impression of a private, live showing of a celebrity’s “reality.” Snapchat users’ love for this type of behind-the-scenes content is only further confirmed by the increasing popularity of following celebrity Snapchat accounts. As reality TV dies out, audiences are finding their fix in places with more authentically personal, live content like Snapchat. And Snapchat delivers: The app offers coverage of major award shows and events like the Grammy’s, the VMAs, and more recently, Miss Universe 2015 (to name only a few) on their Live Stories feature. This feature is watched by 10 to 20 million Snapchat users a day. Why? Because it satisfies users’ cravings for exclusive, real-time content. And that’s exactly what McDonald’s tapped into with its Lebron Snapchat Story. As for McDonald’s geofilter initiative, this marketing tactic was successful because—well, wouldn’t you have fun with raining french fries?

McDonald's Snapchat Geofilter

2. GrubHub: Delivering Smart Strategy

The Disappearing Story: If Lebron James or raining french-fries doesn’t quite fit into your marketing budget, there are other ways to capture the Snapchat audience. Restaurant delivery service GrubHub uses the platform to send users special offers, funny doodles, and even job offerings.

Grubhub Snapchat

The Lasting Impression: This is a different, yet still impactful, form of exclusive content. By giving these types of opportunities (promo codes, giveaways, etc.) to its followers, GrubHub is still providing its audience with that “private access” feeling Snapchat users love. The brand also utilized Snapchat artist (yes, you read that correctly) Michael Platco to spruce up its Snapchat storytelling and doodling. Platco has been employed by a variety of brands to create engaging, storytelling art for Snapchat accounts.

3. Wet Seal: Plenty of Millennials in the Sea

The Disappearing Story: Wet Seal, a popular retail company among teens, employed the use of a social influencer to capture its target audience on Snapchat. With three hundred and twenty thousand subscribers on Youtube, one hundred thousand followers on Twitter, and one hundred and ninety-four thousand followers on Instagram, beauty blogger “MissMeghanMakeup” helped Wet Seal target its core demographic as it handed over its Snapchat account to her. For two days, Meghan documented her own story on the brand’s Snapchat account, all while promoting and wearing Wet Seal apparel.

Wet Seal Snapchat - MissMeghanMakeup

The Lasting Impression: According to the most recent Snapchat statistics, 70 percent of users are female and 71 percent of users are younger than 25. This heavy presence of young females is what brings brands like Wet Seal to Snapchat. Through the use of an Influencer in the Snapchat space, Wet Seal was able to achieve content amplification on a much larger scale. The account gained nine thousand more followers after Meghan took over, proving the positive effect of a targeted influencer strategy.

Wet Seal’s approach was much more native to the platform than other brands’ attempts to capture the young female audience on Snapchat. For example, the Discover feature offers the Cosmopolitan channel, a seemingly ideal space to target female Snapchat users. While the Discover channels have increased their viewership since the feature was placed on the Live Stories tab, some brands have entered the space by creating obvious, sponsored ads that interrupt the channel’s content. We’ve come such a long way from interruption advertising, let’s not take any steps backwards. Snapchat also makes it incredibly easy to opt out of watching these types of ads, anyway—with a simple tap of a finger, the ad is passed over.

4. NBA: Snapchat A-Game

The Disappearing Story: The statistics about females using Snapchat doesn’t mean companies shouldn’t be taking advantage of Snapchat to market to other demographics. For instance, the NBA used Snapchat to offer its followers exclusive (note the pattern here…) Snaps from the 2014 NBA playoffs.

NBA Tweet about Snapchat

The Lasting Impression: Sports are one of the only remaining “guarantees” in broadcast television today and a genre that continues to capture all types of audiences. As Snapchat gives fans the ability to have a new experience, the NBA is one sports brand that is pulling even the most devoted TV audiences into the live streaming scene (which is where it might be headed, anyway). It’s not surprising that a brand that found content amplification success on Instagram was able to do it on Snapchat as well. In fact, these are the very brands that should be mastering Snapchat, considering the similar audiences the two social media platforms draw. Skyword’s Keri Longacre wrote in her blog, “5 Brands with Highly Successful Instagram Marketing Strategies,” that the NBA “sells an experience rather than a product.” This is exactly why Instagram and Snapchat prove to be the perfect platforms for the brand. The NBA Snapchat gives basketball fans the sideline experience they desire. And the NBA isn’t the only organization to offer this to its fans: NCAA and professional sports teams have been creating their own accounts to use as recruitment and marketing tools. Sports content can also be found via the ESPN channel on Snapchat’s Discover Page as well as on Snapchat’s Live Stories feature, which offers Snaps from NCAA and professional sports games.

5. 20th Century Fox: It’s the Great Snapchat, Charlie Brown

The Disappearing Story: One of the most recent innovations for Snapchat was its acquisition of facial recognition app, Looksery. 20th Century Fox was the first sponsor for the new Lenses feature, creating a Peanuts Movie promo. The Peanut Lens on Snapchat allowed users to overlay their videos with a dancing Snoopy in a pumpkin patch. More importantly, one Lens allowed users to open their mouths only to see candy corns flowing out. Digital campaigns for the Peanut Movie were abound before the November movie release, with one involving a site where users could “Peanutize” themselves in classic Peanut apparel. Fox also used two Snapchat geofilters to overlay Snaps on Halloween day and night.

The Lasting Impression: According to Variety and the Financial Times, Snapchat charged around $750,000 daily for peak-usage day (like Halloween or other holidays) and $450,000 for non-peak days for the sponsored Lens. Clearly one of the more expensive Snapchat marketing initiatives, it is nonetheless an example of how brands are taking advantage of what Snapchat has to offer. Fox began this campaign at a particularly optimal time, considering Lenses launched in September 2015. Unlike how long it took brands to be incorporated into the geofilter feature, it was only a month before brands became involved with Lenses. It was just the right time, too, as users were completely blown away by the new feature (I will not disclose how many selfies I sent of myself vomiting rainbows).

Think You’re Ready for the Big Ghost Dance, Too?

While these brands vary in terms of their business, they share important characteristics that have contributed to their success on Snapchat. For one, all are B2C brands with younger target audiences. They have perfected marketing strategies behind other forms of social media to help promote their new ones (like Snapchat) and have committed in some way to what the Snapchat audience loves: exclusive, engaging, live content.

Think you’re ready to get out on the dance floor? Up next in this series is a look at how and when to measure the impact of your Snapchat strategy once you have it.

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Having consulted a variety of brands on executing content strategy throughout her time working with the Skyword Content Services team, Steph Ferrell now represents the voice of those customers as a Product Marketing Manager at Skyword. Steph uses her expertise to deliver solutions to brands as they seek to create meaningful customer experiences. She also likes chocolate, a lot.

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