Guide to Snapchat marketing for small businesses • Digital Dot

Guide to Snapchat marketing for small businesses

Snapchat is, in many regards, not your traditional social media platform. It has some unique characteristics that differentiate it from its peers, especially for marketing purposes. It’s also not the immediate go-to platform that it once was, as its competitors have surpassed its fame. And yet, as a reputable New York digital marketing agency, we at Digital Dot have seen our clients find ample success with it regardless. From experience, we can confidently say that Snapchat marketing for small businesses is still absolutely viable – as we’ll explore today.

A brief overview of Snapchat

First and foremost, let us substantiate the claim that Snapchat is quite unique. To do so, we may break its fundamentals down into 2 key parts.

#1 Audience size and demographics

As regards audience size, Snapchat may not boast the user numbers of social media juggernauts like Facebook and TikTok. Indeed, Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital finds it now has 557 million active users:

An infographic on the world’s most-used social media platforms.

That’s of course very respectable but is a far cry from the 1 billion+ users the top 6 platforms offer.

Second, equally notably, Snapchat has a wider appeal to younger audiences. The 18-24 age bracket sees an entirely equal split among females and males, too, but in all other groups, it leans toward female users.

An infographic on Snapchat’s advertising audience demographics.

However, another key point needs to be made here; Snapchat’s engagement rates are terrific, surpassing those of its competitors manifold, reaching “75% of millennials and Gen Z [users]”. Moreover, it continues to delight its users in shopping and engaging with brands, according to its Snapchat Generation 2022 report.

#2 Content format

Second, its content is rather unique in itself. Snapchat marketing for small businesses, not much less than for larger ones, has to account for:

  • Content length, as ads have a 10-second duration limit
  • Content temporality, as content disappears once viewed or after 24 hours
  • Unconventional and authentic tone, as Snapchat dubs itself “the app for #RealFriends” – not a picture-perfect platform

For these and other factors, Snapchat is far from the ideal platform for long-term SEO efforts. It is, however, very effective for local SEO – as SEO services in New York tend to focus on. Between its Geofilters and focus on location, it truly puts those engagement rates to local use.

Getting started with Snapchat marketing for small businesses

All that said, then, Snapchat may not be for all businesses. For one, it comes with a specific audience focus, which may not include one’s target demographics. Second, its tone, wealth of features, and content temporality may challenge uninitiated marketers.

Still, it boasts some excellent engagement rates, a notable local focus, and a surprisingly wide reach. So, if Snapchat sounds like the platform for your business, here’s how to get started.

#1 Set up your business account

First things first, you’ll need to download the app through Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. Signing up for Snapchat is very straightforward, as you might expect.

A screenshot of Snapchat’s sign up page.

Next, you will have to access Snapchat’s Business Manager to set up a Business account. This process is also quite straightforward – but should you encounter any difficulties, Snapchat also provides a handy step-by-step instructions video:

#2 Explore your Snapchat Business Manager

Now comes the rather challenging part, as you’ll have to get a feel for the platform’s wealth of features. Snapchat marketing for small businesses won’t necessarily require that you delve into all of them, but knowledge is always power.

For a brief overview, Business Manager’s key features include:

  • Instant Create, where you can create a single image or video ad.
  • Advanced Create, where you can build deeper campaigns and ad sets with more specific objectives.
  • Events Manager, where you can track your ads’ cross-channel effectiveness.
  • Catalogs, where you can upload product inventories directly to Snapchat.
  • Lens Web Builder Tool, where you can create custom AR lenses.
  • Create Filters, where you can create branded filters and illustrations.
  • Audience Insights, which offers you extensive audience analytics and behavioral data points.
  • Creator Marketplace, where you can collaborate with other creators.

This may seem like much to take in at a glance, but rest assured Snapchat’s learning curve won’t strain you. Much like other platforms, it will simply require some time to get you accustomed to its workings.

#3 Plan ahead and establish your brand

Next, you will need to set clear branding lines and have your Snapchat activity follow them. As with all forms of marketing, careful planning and prudent execution will only help ensure success. Snapchat marketing for small businesses is no exception – quite the contrary.

With branding, we’ve covered manifold in the past, so here we may reiterate the key points for text economy:

  • Humanize your brand to build trust; within Snapchat’s context, this should come naturally.
  • Use storytelling in your marketing; your stories make up your brand and vice versa, regardless of platform.
  • Align Snapchat content with your content marketing strategies; don’t let Snapchat content’s temporality sway you from your established strategies.

In all cases, consistency is key. Snapchat is a highly visual platform, so you must use this focus to best frame your brand.

#4 Engage frequently – and cross-post

With all your plans in order, you may now begin to engage with your audiences. As you do so, remember both frequency and quality; constant engagement will keep you in your audiences’ minds, while engagement quality will cement your value.

Of course, especially as a small business, you may not afford to stretch your social media teams too thin. Fortunately, as social marketing NYC service providers insist, cross-posting can be demonstrably effective – and cost-effective, at that. For a simple example of this, consider how Game of Thrones promoted its Snapchat lens on Twitter:

A tweet by Game of Thrones advertising their themed Snapchat content.

#5 Monitor your effectiveness

Finally, Snapchat marketing for small businesses requires a diligent eye on your performance. Through it, you can ensure proper budget distribution and a deep understanding of your campaigns’ effectiveness.

Snapchat offers ample tools to help you do so, including:

Which exact tools you’ll need will of course depend on your Snapchat activities and ad formats. Still, any and all insights you can acquire will always help enhance your marketing efforts.

Leverage the different Snapchat ad formats

On that note, here we may explore the different types of Snapchat paid ad formats. As a small business, you may, by all means, choose to start organically and leave paid options for later. However, as PPC services NYC trends show, a combination of organic and paid efforts typically works best.

#1 Snap Ads

The most common type of ad is simply dubbed “Snap Ads”, and very much resembles conventional – if discreet – ads. These ads do have to abide by Snapchat’s rules, but generally offer the most room for creativity. As far as Snapchat marketing for small businesses goes, Snap Ads are arguably your safest bet to get started.

For a video example of a high-budget ad we may cite Game of Thrones once more:

But fear not, Snap Ads don’t need this kind of budget or AR focus to succeed. Adidas found great success with simple, retro-looking image ads which looked like this:

Adidas Snapchat ads using a retro videogame aesthetic.

As with all things marketing, creativity and proper resonance with your audiences will ultimately ensure success. That’s why we insist on the sheer value of audience insights; Adidas simply tapped into nostalgia, and it performed spectacularly.

#2 Snapchat Geofilters

Next, audience insights and the aforementioned local focus come in full force in Geofilters. Through Snapchat’s Crate page you can create either community filters, which are free, or filters, which are not.

Both come with an event and location focus, and filters specifically come with a few price caveats. The primary one, from which they get their name, is Geofencing:

A screenshot of Snapchat’s Geofencing filter which determines final ad costs.

In simple terms, Geofencing limits your filter’s availability to specific locations, on top of specific dates. The final price will depend on both of these factors, so here you may best exercise caution.

Granted, Geofilters can pay off tremendously – especially if you have a strong local SEO strategy in place to draw from. But generally speaking, Geofilters you may want to explore once you’ve acquired more experience with the platform.

#3 Snapchat Sponsored Lens

Finally, another type of ad format comes in Sponsored Lenses. These too may not be ideal for Snapchat marketing for small businesses early on, but can truly shine in later marketing stages.

Sponsored Lenses look exactly like regular Lenses, adding objects and visuals to Snaps via AR. In doing so, they offer a fun experience to users, while also incentivizing shares for increased exposure. For a visual example, consider the following the NBA used for 2017’s All-Star Game:

An example of a themed Snapchat Sponsored Lens featuring confetti and the faces of famous basketball players.

As you can see, Lenses offer ample room for creativity and fun. If you do have an established audience, sharing Lenses may be among the best ways to raise brand awareness and cultivate brand trust. However, this type too requires a strong brand presence and deep audience insights, so you may best explore it gradually.


To summarize, Snapchat marketing for small businesses will remain very viable in 2022. The platform may not boast the largest user base, but it does offer great engagement rates in return. For small businesses specifically, it also offers many cost-effective marketing options, alongside deep analytics tools to help them grow. If the platform’s demographics match yours, Snapchat should definitely deserve your consideration.

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