April 30, 2015 Delmondo

Five Things I’ve Learned from Snapchatting for Brands

This is a guest post from Mike Platco, professional Snapchat Artist, Consultant, and Strategist.

For the past year I’ve been a Snapchat Consultant for brands. Much like how not every brand has a Snapchat account, not everyone I try to explain my career to knows what Snapchat is. The long and short of it is that I partner with brands to launch, takeover, and generate content for their accounts as a strategist, influencer, and artist.

In dedicating my career to this uniquely ephemeral app I’ve learned a few best practices that, in my opinion, are worth sharing. 

1. Drawing is Great, but There Needs to be More

Snapchat’s wonderfully restrictive drawing tools have resulted in some seriously jaw dropping pieces of digital art, but brands cannot survive on drawings alone. 

The best brands on Snapchat use a combination of storytelling, art, behind the scenes content, and influencer/celebrity engagement. A great example is Major League Soccer (‘MLS’ on Snapchat). They are constantly giving fans exactly what they want in the form of behind the scenes snaps from team practices and locker rooms, exclusive sideline game coverage, and 24-hour player takeovers. 

In October, I partnered with MLS to host a ‘Snapchat Championship’, wherein we brought onboard some of the world’s most talented Snapchat artists to make team specific drawings during the league’s post-season. It was a multi-week campaign that touched on many of the aforementioned key content elements and, to be honest, was a whole lot of fun. 

2. The Snapchat QR Code is Not Meant for Brands, but it has Potential

It surprises me how many people post their individual Snapchat QR code on Instagram and Twitter, expecting it to result in hundreds of new followers. Much like SnapCash, this feature was designed for peer to peer exchanges – it’s best used in person. It’s impossible to use your phone to scan a code if the code exists on your phone. 

So, how can brands cash in on this? Well, it’s much easier said than done. If a brand really wants to use their QR code as a means of getting new followers they have to start thinking outside of the mobile device. It’s untested territory, but I can guarantee you one thing: the moment I see a brand Snapchat QR code plastered on a billboard I will be pulling out my phone and adding that account immediately. 

3. Start with a Huge Experiment

Make sure you’re giving people a reason to add you.

Of the many different ways a brand could finally bite the bullet and launch a Snapchat account, the most successful approach is to start of with a bang. In January, I worked with ABC Family to launch the Pretty Little Liars Snapchat account (username: ‘PLL’). Their ‘bang’ was to air the first few minutes of their Season Premier from their handle while partnering with myself and Youtube/Vine influencer @Loahanthony to generate additional content. I’ve never been part of a more successful account launch.

The best way to kick things off is to follow a similar formula. Pair the launch with an event of some sort, incorporate a few influencers, and have them generate compelling content that touches on all of the bases (storytelling, behind the scenes, art, etc). 

Speaking of which…     

4. If Partnering with Talent, Get the Most Bang for Your Buck.

Consider the following. If Justin Bieber were to give @mplatco a shoutout on Twitter, I would likely get thousands of new followers. Sounds great, right? Well, if he were to post the same message on his Snapchat account, I would get tens of thousands.

I’m not advising that you disregard other social media platforms when negotiating influencer engagements around Snapchat projects, but keep in mind the barrier of entry that exists when someone is on Facebook and wants to add a new Snapchat user. It’s basically ‘drop what you’re doing and go to Snapchat.’ It’s a tough sell and the conversion rates are proof. If you’re working with talent, make sure to negotiate content posts for their personal account. Also, make sure to ask how many views they average per snap!

If the influencer you’re using is more on the ‘celebrity’ side (meaning they have a crazy amount of followers but don’t necessarily generate dynamic content on Snapchat), bring in some outside help to make their call-to-action more compelling. There are some amazing Snapchat artists and storytellers out there who know their way around collaborations and shoutouts. 

5. It’s a Labor Intensive Platform

     If Snapchatting for brands has taught me one thing above all, it’s that the platform is highly labor-intensive. It’s strange to think how much consideration must be given for a piece of 10-second content that only lives for 24 hours.

     I’m often asked how long my most detailed drawings take (between 15-90 minutes), but the real time goes into planning out stories and campaigns. I’ve been fortunate enough to have brands send me to DisneyWorld, Coachella, Las Vegas, Universal Studios, and the set of The Voice, but the majority of my time is always spent storyboarding, capturing content, or sitting off to the side preparing snaps to be posted. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way complain – I love what I do! I just want to drive the point home that Snapchat is not a platform in which success can be found by simply winging it. 


If you found my post interesting, please share and, as always, be sure to add me on Snapchat to follow along. Username: ‘mplatco’


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