Can I sell stuff with Snapchat?

There’s no denying that Snapchat has become one of the most talked about platforms in digital marketing. Ever since late 2014 when it started selling ads, Snapchat’s presence in the ad space has grown exponentially, with some of the biggest brands in the world jumping on board to promote their product or service. Allowing brands to speak directly to consumers, Snapchat has taken personalisation to a whole new level when it comes to advertising. What’s more, it’s become the place to be if it’s millennials you’re looking to target. With 71% of their users under the age of 34, it’s a sure fire way to get your brand in front of a millennial market.

OK, so it’s easy to see how Snapchat has established itself in marketing: being utilised by huge brands to localise and personalise their communication, and essentially sell their stuff. However, we’re not all co-owners or founders of these household name brands; many of us have much smaller-scale businesses that do not have the budget or the means to compete with persistent Snapchat marketing. So, we have to ask the question, can Snapchat actually sell stuff? Or is it just an additional asset larger companies can use to further their domination of the digital spaces in which we spend our time? In this article, we want to tackle this, and give you a true view of whether the hype is all it’s cracked up to be.

So what actually is Snapchat advertising?

Let’s be honest, this is not a particularly easy question to answer as Snapchat is constantly evolving its advertising capabilities and functions. It can be used in a variety of different ways to achieve a variety of different goals. To give you an idea of what it can do for you and your business, we’ve summed up the ways Snapchat can achieve some of the common marketing goals we regularly come across.


Want to really tie yourself into your customers’ Snapchat experience? Geofilters are the way to go. They are essentially static branded pieces of artwork that can be added on top of a snap, in a specific location that you can set and choose. They can be a fun and easy way to include logos and branded artwork, playfully incorporated into your consumers actual snaps.

However, things aren’t just plain and simple here. There are two key geofilter types available to businesses: On-Demand Geofilters and Sponsored Geofilters — and this is what can differentiate your business from a bigger brand. Sponsored Geofilters tend to be huge in size, covering a whole country or large proportions of it. On-Demand filters, on the other hand, are a lot more specific, set for a finite amount of time, or for a smaller area. Say it’s your shop launch date for example, On-Demand Geofilters are a great way of getting new customers really involved with the event and sending out your brand to however many friends they decide to snap on the night.

Brand awareness

Much like other social media spaces, Snapchat is a great place for video ads. The 10-second full-screen clips are squeezed in between stories, subtly integrated into users’ Snapchat experience. Businesses can also choose to extend the advert, asking users to swipe up for more content, directing them to a website, or even a related article without leaving the app. Snapchat have claimed that their swipe up rate is up to 5 times more than the average click through rate on comparable platforms — a statistic you can’t really ignore.

Driving potential sales

This one is more abstract, but takes engagement one step further: enter the ‘sponsored lens’. Rather than being a static filter, geo lenses allow users to interact with the snapchat ad, encouraging users to perform a certain action or press on the screen to activate the lens. Whether it’s raising your eyebrows or opening your mouth, the lense animates and moves with you, to create a unique, personalised advert. With Snapchatters engaging with a sponsored lens for around 20 seconds, it’s a great way to get in front of the eyes and into the minds of those that use it.

Now, as you’d imagine, all of these options need some sort of budget behind them. Snapchat are notoriously tight-lipped about their prices, but it’s worth bearing in mind the sort of companies that have made the most of these functionalities so far: big brands. And whilst many of them continue to push money towards Snapchat, it is one of many tools which they have the budget to fulfil. Of course, the smaller the scale of your reach or capabilities, the smaller the budget, so it’s worth looking into the actual costs before making any commitments.

Did someone say influencer marketing?

Another buzzword we’re all too familiar with: influencer marketing. As with all influencer campaigns, the idea is to integrate seamlessly into the influencer’s content, rather than sticking out like a sore, branded, thumb. One way of going about influencer collaboration is to simply ask a collaborator to talk about or use your product or service, incorporating it into their own Snapchat story. Another option is a ‘Snapchat takeover’, allowing an influencer onto your company’s account, connecting with your followers, and engaging with your audience for the day.

Perhaps your target audience has burning questions to ask an influencer; get them to ask away on other social media platforms, collate the questions, and interview the influencer. Or perhaps you have a collection of influencers attending your product launch? Ask them to all get involved in a task which other Snapchat users can also try at home, creating great entertaining content of known faces, as well as collecting aggregated content across a whole range of social media platforms.

Many ‘influencers’ now ask for some sort of payment for their appearance, but with a truly creative and engaging idea, they’ll be more likely to get involved without skyrocketing costs.

What if my budget is tight?

It’s not all spend spend spend when it comes to Snapchat: it can and is used in a lot of different ways for minimal costs. Simply using Snapchat as it was intended — creating stories and posting regular snaps — opens up a whole new way of advertising. Creating engaging daily stories, showing behind-the-scenes images of your company, or at an event, gives users a real window into your everyday workings. You’d have to have a dedicated snapper on board, but capturing the real and human element of your company is something which consumers, and particularly millennials, love to see.

Snapchat can also be the perfect place to actually show what you’re made of: demos, using the product or service in context, and emphasizing key features, or USP’s. The real-time element of Snapchat is certainly less polished than a full explanatory video, but it offers a real sense of authenticity.

But can I actually sell stuff?

Despite Snapchat making its claims, there is little in the way of measurements to determine whether Snapchat can actually make you money. Of course, you can see the metrics of how many people may have viewed your Snap ad, how long they played with a lens, how many times a filter was used, how many people have seen your Snapchat story, or who has been viewing your influencer takeover: but in all honesty the direct route to selling might be harder to follow. Much like with any social or content campaign, Snapchat plays the long game: a more subtle approach to marketing, which ties into people’s lives rather than shoving a product or service in the face of its target audience. You have to look at it this way, Snapchat is a tool which is part of a wider strategy, offering a highly personal way of advertising which is unrivaled by any other stream. But, as with any stream, you have to consider who you’re targeting, what you’re attempting to sell, and ultimately what you want to communicate. With a structured plan, integrated into a well-supported campaign, Snapchat can offer a whole new way to sell, but only if it is where your audience actually interact. It can do wonders in regards to audience engagement and brand awareness, but in terms of tangible selling power, it will likely be a case of watching to see how the platform evolves, especially for small businesses.

Want to explore new ways your brand can sell stuff? Get in touch, we’re pretty much experts in this area.

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