If you haven’t bumped into SnapChat already, it’s the newest (and fast-growing) kid on the online marketing block.

SnapChat’s an app for smartphones. You send a picture or short video clip to your contacts, and it self-destructs after a few seconds (you pick the time frame, of course.) (Similar to Facebook Poke, if you’re familiar.)


According to SnapChat’s site, “There is value in the ephemeral. Great conversations are magical. That’s because they are shared, enjoyed, but not saved.”

But Actually, Your Images Can Be Saved

You do have to hold your finger on the screen to view the snap, theoretically preventing you from taking a screenshot – unless you use 3 fingers.

Also, you can later hook your phone up to a computer and search for the file – it’s stored in the phone’s memory.

So Really, There’s One Way To Market With This

You can already send texts to mobile phones and post videos on Facebook, YouTube and other sites with mobile apps.

The Benefit Of SnapChat? Urgency.

The fun of the experience is the immediacy required for viewing. So since the images themselves can be saved, you need to add another layer of urgency: a time limit on whatever your snap is offering.

When would you use this?

To Make Limited-Time Offers From Your Online Store

Step 1: Send a snap with an immediate-use coupon code and an explanation of what it’s for. Let recipients know how long the code will be good for. (You’ll probably want that to be a few hours or less. Otherwise, there’ll be less urgency to check your snaps.)

Important: Make the coupon code easy to remember, since it’ll disappear shortly. You may also want to include the short version of your site’s URL (without all the http:// and www.) to remind them where to redeem the code.

Step 2: Enable your coupon code before sending the snap.

Step 3: Turn it off at the time the offer ends.

Then, you’re done. You may have made sales from the snap, and at the least, you’ll have increased interest in your brand.

How To Create Your Snap

With SnapChat, you send images. There are two ways to get your offer in an image:

Either use your phone to take a picture of your offer, typed out…

Or take a relevant picture, then use the in-app pencil to sketch on the necessary details.

…And Then To Support Those Offers With Entertaining Content

At the moment, friends use it to entertain each other.

In order to keep users following your snaps, you’ll have to entertain them as well.

Think memes altered for your brand; think shares of videos, pictures or quotes that relate to your topic, think silly copy around your sales offers.

“The main reason that people use Snapchat is that the content is so much better,” co-founder Evan Spiegel says. “It’s funny to see your friend when they just woke up in the morning.”

So in order to leverage SnapChat well, be as comically real – within reason – as you can get.

How It’s Been Done Before

16 Handles‘s SnapChat campaign has been widely praised, but if you haven’t heard the story yet, it goes like this:

The frozen yogurt chain did not have a Snapchat account before the campaign started on Jan. 1. They registered one, and send out this offer:

Send a snap of yourself at 16Handles, get a snap of a coupon only good for the next 10 seconds.

Three days later, the 41-location company had sent and received more than 1,400 snaps with users.

While a small business would have slower growth than such a large chain, we’re still going to say this kind of example indicates a successful marketing channel – when used in the same way, of course.

To Use Or Not To Use

One thing’s for sure: this isn’t yet a “gotta be on it” network. No one even knows if it’ll catch on for the general public or fizzle out fast.

It’s populated by teens at the moment. This may change, since teens tend to spot online trends first. However, a change would happen slowly, since most busy adults have already joined some combination of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

So where does that leave you?

It’s a decision to make.

Do you already have an opinion on whether you’ll be marketing on SnapChat or not? If you do, make your case below – it’ll likely help other businesses decide.