Afraid of the Snapchat Ghost? Fear Not, Says This Live Streaming Strategist

Snapchat delivers around 700 million photos and videos to nearly 200 million monthly active users. Because of this, businesses are spending five times as much to reach the millennial Snapchatting demographic versus all previous age groups combined. Eighteen-to-24-year-olds make up 45 percent of all Snapchat users in the U.S., according to eMarketer. In the past 12 months, awareness of Snapchat among Americans 12 and older grew from 60-71 percent, according to Edison Research.

snapchat course

Austin Iuliano is a creative Snapchat storyteller, strategist and content creator (including a contributor here at Small Business Trends). Austin spends his time thinking up and creating silly-yet-engaging Snapchat stories, consulting witth others on how to be better at Snapchat and drinking way too much coffee. Austin created a Snapchat course called “Snapchat Mastery” to help entrepreneurs get a grasp on the platform. Small Business Trends first met Austin at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 and recently caught up with him again via email.

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The Snapchat Course

Small Business Trends: A common objection I hear about Snapchat is that its interface is intimidating and just bizarre. What do you say to people about this?

Austin Iuliano: Alex, you are absolutely right that the interface is a little intimidating. But that being said, it becomes second nature after you practice and learn it. When I first started I was confused as all heck. Now though, my fingers fly faster than my brain can think and it has become routine. It is almost like learning how to ride a bike. At first you can’t seem to get it going without a helping hand to keep you steady  — but if you keep it up, it becomes second nature.

Most people don’t even realize all the different functions and actions that you can do. People would ask me all the time how to do different things like film hands free, record audio messages etc. I send people to various blog articles I’ve written to help them out.

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Snapcodes let you add someone as a friend without typing their username

This is part of the reason I created the “Snapchat Mastery” course. There were not many great, simple tutorials showing people step by step what to do. Nothing was located all in one place.

I made the Snapchat course myself. I recorded the entire interface, and all the tips, tricks and hacks in Snapchat.  I even did it with two cameras: one screen sharing the phone interface, and one over my shoulder, watching me interacting with the phone. It makes it simple to understand and easy to learn.

Small Business Trends: Does it make sense for small business owners and entrepreneurs to even use Snapchat? Many people hear ‘Snapchat’ and they immediately think teens and millennials.

Austin Iuliano: Alex, if your business sells to teens and millennials you must be on Snapchat. That being said, the platform is aging up just like Facebook did. If you’re a business owner, right now there is no other platform that will generate as much engagement as Snapchat does, without spending thousands of dollars on advertising.

If your business is built on relationships, Snapchat is a great place to be. You can easily build really deep relationships with people in Snapchat because you get to become a part of their life. Snapchat is such an intimate platform, you feel like you really get to know these people just from watching them every day.

There’s an added bonus too if your business is an event or location based. Snapchat Geofilters are extremely powerful and very inexpensive. I have seen figures of 98,000 views on a Snapchat filter for $32 bucks.

Small Business Trends: I know this is a loaded question but how should a business use Snapchat?

Austin Iuliano: First and foremost, learn the interface and native culture. Hillary Clinton got slammed big time for jumping in and not knowing the culture of Snapchat. She sounded inauthentic, but she quickly turned that around and is dominating in Snapchat, or at least her interns are.

Luckily most of us aren’t as well known as Hillary Clinton. If we mess up (like we are sure to do) it’ll pass probably without anyone noticing.

After you get the interface down and you learn the culture of Snapchat, master the art of storytelling. Storytelling is what separates the mediocre Snapchat accounts to the ones that explode in popularity. Just because someone adds you on Snapchat doesn’t mean they will watch. You have to earn that attention through storytelling. Snapchat is the easiest way to keep users attention and sell more of your product or service.

If you are a location based business like a brick and mortar store, or an event based business like a wedding photographer you must look at geofilters. Snapchat lets you create your own custom geofilters. If you are a wedding photographer, create a unique geofilter for your clients’ wedding. This gives an extra powerful touch. Own a coffee shop across from the local library? Map the library and create geofilter driving people to read and have a cup of joe.

Don’t be scared about cost. Snapchat geofilters are extremely inexpensive, starting as low at $5 an hour. I have seen results of 100,000 impressions for only $32 bucks! That is a ton of exposure for very little cost.

Small Business Trends: You mentioned storytelling is story-selling. Any tips for people?

Austin Iuliano: Absolutely! I give a ton of examples and tips on how to storytell really effectively in my Snapchat course. Some of the common mistakes people make is using Snapchat as a mirror. The entire story is us staring at their face as they talk to us.

If they don’t do that, generally they start narrating the story. Please show us the story and don’t tell us. Finally, practice, practice, practice. You will know when you do a great job storytelling. Your viewer count will keep going up. If you have under 250-500 views per story, chances are your stories are boring.

If you have people constantly snapping you back sending you love letters, you are doing a good job. You just gotta push your creative boundaries.

Snapchat is getting harder and harder to gain attention in every day. With more and more people joining, there are more and more people vying for attention. The only thing that will set you apart from the competition is your ability to story tell. Storytelling is what separates the great brands from the ones that fizzle and disappear.

All and all Snapchat is different than most social media. However the core concepts are the same: tell great stories and make great content. Build a strong online community and create deep relationships.

Learn from others who are doing it well. Spend the time learning the native culture. If you can master those fundamental skills you can master Snapchat.

Small Business Trends: Congrats on being listed by startup advisor Hillel Fuld as someone to watch on Snapchat. To be named with Jared Leto and Jessica Alba is so cool. Who do you like to watch on Snapchat?

Austin Iuliano: Taylor Nikolai, Casey Neistat, Shonduras, Harris Markowitz, ShaunAyala, and AaronFPS to name just a few.

Images: Austin Iuliano

This is part of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world.

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Alex Yong Alex Yong is a staff writer and host of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world. Alex was named a must-follow PR resource in Cision North America’s list of the top 50 Twitter influencers utilizing rich media tweets, alongside Guy Kawasaki and Lee Odden.

7 Reactions
  1. I guess that this is needed because SnapChat is quite new. There is a need for a Snapchat marketing guide that can help in not only optimizing Snapchat campaigns but also targeting the millenials who are the most frequent users of this platform.

    • Austin Iuliano

      Aira, Absolutely! Snapchat is now valued at 20 billion dollars. It isn’t going away anytime soon and could be the next “Facebook.” Right now, if we invest our resources in learning and building on this platform, we will have huge returns later. Also, it isn’t’ just millennials who are on the platform, the age group is scaling up fast. Thank you for the comment Aira.

    • Hi Aira. My gut feeling (and I have no proof) is the Snapchat interface is made so that users feel a sense of intrigue/challenge which leads to exploration and friends trying to “out funny” each other, in a fun way. If that’s true, it’s smart; here’s why I think so: kids who are out of school in summer are naturally going to want to explore – they also have the time on weekends (all year). But it’s good there’s a way to learn it via a course quickly if you’re not a kid, minus exploration which can eat up time.

  2. And I would add Snapchat is not just for millennials! I am 51 and embracing it! 🙂

    • Hi Paula, thanks. If I remember correctly, last year Nielsen did a Snapchat study and found your age group loves Snapchat The data came as a surprise to many. Contact Katie Morse at Nielen for details. I met her at #SocializeNYC back in October.

  3. Austin: So, where do I sign up for the Snapchat course? 😉 I am thinking of using it for the donors and supporters of my crowdfunding campaign for my first forthcoming book on tea.