What is Snapchat and How Can I Use It for Business?

what is snapchat

If you’re over 25 years old, there’s a good chance you’ve asked yourself, “What is Snapchat and how can I use it for business?”

Yes, demographics are very important when you consider using Snapchat as the majority of its user base to trends young. That leads to a question you need to answer even before you learn more about the social media platform itself – “Does Snapchat have a place in my marketing mix?”

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Should You Use Snapchat for Business?

As with any marketing channel, before you wonder how you can use Snapchat for business, you need to determine if you should.

The Snapchat user base is a good size, coming in around 100 million daily active users worldwide back in August of 2014. That’s a number that’ll cause any marketer to salivate. But wipe your mouth as you consider these Snapchat demographic numbers from December 2014:

  • Age 18-24: 45 percent
  • Age 25-34: 26 percent
  • Age 35-44: 13 percent
  • Age 45-54: 10 percent
  • Age 55-64: 6 percent

As you can see, the majority of Snapchat users are under 34. In reality, the age of Snapchat users may skew even lower as the numbers above did not include 13 – 17 year olds.

Other US numbers include:

  • Percentage of 18-34 year olds in the U.S. that have a Snapchat account: 32.9
  • Percentage of the Class of 2014 (high school) that use Snapchat daily: 46
  • Percentage of U.S. millennial Internet users that access Snapchat regularly: 30

Worldwide, the demographics looked like this in August of 2014:

  • Percentage of Snapchat users that are between 18-24 years old: 45
  • Percentage of Snapchat users under 25 years old: 71

Yep, the majority of Snapchat users worldwide are also under 25.

Conclusion: If you don’t sell to the under-34 crowd, particularly those under 25, Snapchat is likely not the best use of your marketing time and dollars.

If you do sell to the under 34 crowd, then the following statistics demonstrate why you should pay more attention to Snapchat:

  • Percentage of college students who would likely purchase a product from a brand that sent them a Snapchat coupon: 58
  • Percentage of Snapchat daily users that contribute content: 65
  • Percentage of marketers that use Snapchat: 1

These numbers paint an interesting picture. First, they show that local marketing campaigns, especially those using coupons, have a more that 50 percent chance to work.

Second, they demonstrate that a good number of Snapchat users are active every day. That’s a big plus when you’re looking for customers who will come back to your marketing platform again and again.

Finally, very few marketers are using Snapchat and that means one thing: less competition. You can’t get that on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Conclusion: If the demographics are a fit, there are some very compelling reasons to give marketing on Snapchat a try.

What is Snapchat?

Fundamentally, Snapchat is yet another social media network. However, unlike Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, your updates (or snaps) don’t stick around for very long. In fact, if you send a snap directly to your followers (called “friends” on Snapchat), it disappears once they’ve viewed it.

Something so ephemeral can come across as flighty and apparently the folks at Snapchat agreed. In 2013, they added the ability to create “stories.” They are a series of snaps that stick around for 24 hours before disappearing, similar to the functionality used by Periscope when it officially launched earlier this year.

Snaps can be either images or videos. You can add captions, stickers and emojis to either type of snap.

This Snapchat review is not going to go into every detail of Snapchat, as they’ve put together a pretty thorough help area. However, let’s take a look at the three primary tabs.

The Snap Tab


This is where you create your snaps. Here’s a quick rundown, starting in the upper-left corner:

  • The lightning bolt lets you turn your flash on and off.
  • The moon will adjust the brightness if you’re taking a photo with less light place.
  • The Snapchat log takes your to your settings and is where you can add friends to follow.
  • The camera with the circle around it toggles your device between its front and back cameras.
  • Both of the colored boxes at the bottom show that I have received snaps. The red one shows the number of snaps I have without audio and the purple one shows the number of snaps I have with audio. Click here to see a list of other Snapchat icons.
  • The big circle at in the bottom is where you press when you’re ready to take a snap (touch for an image, touch and hold for a video).

The Snapchat Stories Tab

This is where you can find your Snapchat stories, discover sponsored media, watch live events (snaps that Snapchat curates to create an overview of one topic) and recent updates from your friends.

what is snapchat use snapchat for business

The Discover Tab

Here you’ll find an expanded list of sponsored media providers.

what is snapchat use snapchat for business

How to Use Snapchat for Business

Snapchat is similar to Periscope in the sense of immediacy and intimacy it provides. This makes it perfect for all kinds of marketing campaigns including:

  • Behind-the-scenes look at how your products are created.
  • Introductions to the employees that make your business run.
  • Quick tips and advice relating to your expertise or products.
  • Special reviews of your products that only your friends (i.e. followers) get to see before launch.
  • Coupons and giveaways.
  • Share slice-of-life stories and happenings in your business, especially if they’re funny visually.

Fun and irreverent seems to be the style on Snapchat, which makes sense given the demographics. This is the time to think outside the box to create content that will attract young folks like bears to honey.

The downside of marketing on Snapchat is that building your following is difficult, as you can’t browse other people’s updates as you do on other social media networks. The key to success here is to drive people to Snapchat where they can become your friend.

You can use other social media networks to do so as well as traditional offline marketing techniques such as handing out flyers or sending postcards that explain the benefits of friending your business (e.g. coupons, previews, fun, etc.).

Use Snapchat Stories

One of the strongest tools for marketing on Snapchat is a story. These series of images and/or videos can be used to lay out a sequential campaign that sticks around for 24 hours. Here’s an example of a how to create a story, using the author’s turtle collection.

Step 1: Take the Snap

Aim your camera and press the large gray button quickly to capture an image; press and hold to capture a video.

what is snapchat use snapchat for business

Step 2: Edit and Add the Snap to Your Story

what is snapchat use snapchat for business

Once your snap is captured, you have some options:

  • Click the “x” on the top-left to discard the snap.
  • Use the icons on the top right to add stickers, text captions and drawings.
  • On the bottom left, you can change the number of second the image will be shown while your story plays, save it to your device and add it to your story.
  • If you’re not adding the snap to a story, you can use the arrow on the bottom right to seleft sho to send it to.

Since we’re adding the snap to a story, we touched the box with the + on the bottom left.

Step 3: Confirm the Addition of the Snap to Your Story

what is snapchat use snapchat for business

Step 4: Find Your Snapchat Story On Your Stories Tab

what is snapchat use snapchat for business

Step 5: Watch Your Snapchat Story

When your story is viewed by anyone, including you, a countdown timer is shown in the top right as shown below:

what is snapchat use snapchat for business


If your business sells to the under-34 demographic, and especially to those under 25, then Snapchat is worth a serious look.

Fun and irreverent, this popular social media network can be your key to reaching those demographics and, at this time, the competition from other marketers is almost nonexistent.

It sounds like a great opportunity for a land grab. Those small businesses that act first will likely reap the benefits of early entry.

Snapchat Photo via Shutterstock

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Matt Mansfield Matt Mansfield is the Tech Editor and SEO Manager at Small Business Trends where he is responsible for directing and writing many of the site’s product reviews, technology how-to’s, and lists of small business resources as well as increasing the reach of our content.

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