With 150 million active daily users worldwide and 25-34 years olds as its fastest growing demographic, Snapchat is increasingly an appealing and pivotal part of social media strategy for fashion brands.
The problem is, with a severe lack of discoverability on the platform (there’s no search nor content surfacing), gaining traction isn’t the easiest task unless you’re spending money on ad products with the company. The same goes for the lack of metrics on hand; meaning building out what that content plan should look like isn’t a terribly straightforward one.
A paid-for strategy might well be for you, of course, and is in fact all that Snapchat itself will support. Burberry, ASOS, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, John Lewis and more, have all done so, working across the three ad products available (Snap Ads, which appear between Stories and Discover content, Sponsored Geofilters, which are location-specific overlays on images and videos taken, and Sponsored Lenses, which are augmented reality additions to selfies taken by users).
But underpinning that, needs to be a strong organic content plan – an understanding of the ways in which to get the most out of the platform year round, and use your other channels as a basis to push followers to it. At our recent #FashMash Bootcamp, a masterclass dedicated to Snapchat, we put forward 10 tips and tricks to get the most out of it, as well as lots of examples of brands to learn from within the fashion industry already doing it well.
1/ Tell stories
The key thing to recognise with Snapchat is how transient the content is. Arguably that affords you the ability to throw bits and pieces up and not worry too much. But more to the point, it means you need to make a big impact in a short amount of time to convince users to return. Storytelling is critical therefore. This is a storytelling platform. You need to think about what you’re creating along those lines accordingly. Even if your content is a basic behind-the-scenes view, does it have a beginning, middle and end? Storyboard out what that looks like before you start in order to capitalise on it to its greatest extent.
In terms of what the content should be, think around providing some seriously unique access – exclusivity beyond what you offer on other channels. Burberry has done this well, so has Agent Provocateur; both of them recognising this is not a place to copy and paste the same assets. The other critical consideration is around humour. Snapchat is all about entertainment. It’s playful, funny and whimsical, which may be an entirely different direction for your brand, but it’s a critical way to think in order to win on this platform. You want your content to have an “I would screenshot that” moment and being emotionally engaging is the secret sauce to making that happen.
2/ Get creative
Use the tools on hand within the Snapchat platform. The very heart of this app is the fun and frivolous nature of its messages sitting hand-in-hand with that humorous storytelling vibe – from the quirky illustrations you can add to the emojis, bitmojis, lenses and filters. Be native to the platform by integrating them into what you send. It will instantly lift your work to be more in line with what users expect to see. Gucci is a great example of a brand that has played with it in this way, thanks largely to its partnership with street artist GucciGhost, aka Trouble Andrew, last fashion week. But also check out the likes of Sophia Webster, ASOS and Primark.
If you’re up for advertising spend, your next best move is indeed a Sponsored Lens or Geofilter. The former tends to drive engagement, the latter is good for reach. Fashion has heavily experimented with both, the likes of Chanel through to Ugg creating entertaining and quite unexpected lenses, while River Island introduced filters to 280 of its stores.
3/ Don’t overproduce it
If there’s one thing that Snapchat isn’t about, it’s a polished, beautiful, laboured-over image. Forget that. It’s raw, candid and in the moment. It’s effortless, but rough around the edges. Again, if you want to feel like you organically fit alongside what a user is viewing from their friends, you don’t want your content to feel like an advert. Amateur is the aim.
Valentino is a great brand in this space, sharing real and regular insights into what all goes on in its showrooms, without feeling too stuffy or produced. Art direction is fine, but it needs to feel native to the platform. Remember it’s shot on a smartphone, which almost instinctively leads to an insider view and a fly-on-the-wall style, so embrace it.
4/ Pick your personality
Another part of treating the platform natively, comes in thinking about how your content is presented. It almost goes without saying that video is critical, but where Snapchat sits differently to most other channels is that success is frequently found in having someone’s face on show within that. Users are used to a very personal view from the interactions and the selfies they have from friends; the augmented reality Lenses only push this further. If you’re approaching this as a brand therefore, it’s about hiring people that can achieve this for you. Are you working with an influencer (see point 7) or can your own team step up as personalities?
Everlane is the prime example here. It uses the platform as its primary social media channel, anchoring each and every post with insights from its candid and personable team members, Red Gaskell and Isadora Sales. They have come to represent the brand, making their stories and what they talk about, must-view content. It works within a feed of friends otherwise, and makes you feel as though you do indeed, know them yourself.
5/ Mix it up
The beauty of Snapchat is indeed the fact that it’s content so readily disappears, giving you the ability to experiment and see what works for you. Such ease of creation also provides the ability to mix up the type of content you produce, however. As with any channel, too much of the same thing gets repetitive. Think about how you can ensure a variety of content to keep it interesting for your team to produce and your viewers to watch – from the subject of them particularly, to whether they are stills or videos, and indeed include any of the creative tools in point 2.
Warby Parker is a particularly strong example of a brand posting regular and very varied types of posts. At this point in time, the industry at large, is leaning most heavily towards posting about product, followed by lifestyle and events, as per the below chart from L2. Can you think outside the box on this and lean towards ever-greater storytelling compared to your competitors, weaving in that piece around humour from point 1?
6/ Engage your community
To truly embrace the candidness of Snapchat, it’s important to engage your community. This isn’t a one-way channel, but rather an opportunity for authentic conversation. It’s about messaging far more than broadcasting. Encourage followers to send you Snaps by asking them questions in your story, invite them to screengrab certain posts you put up, and of course take that view into the real world with on-the-ground activations tied to your Snapchat feed.
Bloomingdale’s for instance ran a scavenger hunt with different geofilters placed around their stores that users had to send selfies of themselves with to win certain prizes. On an even simpler basis, rumour has it the team at Everlane send at least a selfie back to every Snap they receive.
7/ Work with influencers
As with so many other platform, working with influencers is a sure-fire way of authentically gaining traction and relevance with new audiences. It’s more important than ever with Snapchat however, where discovery is distinctly limited, as noted. For users to find you, they either need to know your exact username or have taken a picture of your Snapcode. Using influencers is therefore a smart route of enabling wider reach as well as engagement.
This is something the likes of Rimmel has done with Cara Delevingne and Tommy Hilfiger with Gigi Hadid. The latter has posted about the brand on her own account to drive new traffic to it, as well as hosted the occasional takeover on the Hilfiger channel around key events like fashion week. Treat those partnerships as you would on any other social network – make decisions based around what and who aligns with your brand, not just how many numbers they might extend to.
8/ Think about timing
Ensure you create a rhythm of posting. The whole purpose of Snapchat is to foster FOMO (fear of missing out), meaning you need to give your viewers a reason to return on a regular basis so they feel like they really are missing something if they’re not there. The ephemeral and transient nature of this platform provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Consider having weekly segments like Everlane does with its #TransparencyTuesday campaign and Chubbies does with its True Thighs fictionalised series – both go-to campaigns that viewers know to tune in for.
At this point in time, the fashion industry is otherwise largely focused on delivering content around fashion weeks or other events. Given there’s no back catalogue for users to flick through, that’s often a wasted opportunity. That’s not to say it’s essential to post everyday, but it’s only by regularly being present that you get seen here.
9/ Connect to commerce
All the aforementioned tips around storytelling, personalities and dialogue still stand, but on Snapchat, product reveals and showcases also have a big part to play. Consumers reportedly want to see your stuff, but the question then stands as to how you connect that engagement through to conversion? There is of course no direct route for links to e-commerce pages, nor any metrics around anything you’re putting out (unless you’re paying for ad products, as explained), but there are ways to start seeing uplift if you approach it creatively.
Think outside the box with your content strategy if conversion is a key objective. Can you drive codes through Stories that shoppers can bring into stores, giving you an anecdotal mode of ROI at least? Or could you share direct product codes within your posts, as Ann Taylor LOFT and Revolve have both done? Everlane has even experimented with Snapchat Discover publisher Sweet recently to test the idea of shoppable content via screenshots and emails.
10/ Spread the fun
As noted, discovery on Snapchat is really hard. There’s also no way to know how many followers you have or have gained with a campaign, unless it’s a paid one. Your number one job with any content strategy on the channel is therefore to look at broader means of getting people on board. You should be pushing your Snapcode out to further social platforms, as well as the real world, but more than that, cross promoting what you produce in order to drive awareness around the content itself.
Everything you post can be saved, reuploaded and shared elsewhere; teased and pushed accordingly. Fendi has even used its Snapchat Tour campaign as an opportunity to create an entire series on its own website, letting something that was once 24 hours long, live on long thereafter. Influencers come in again here too in order to help push numbers, but if you have a big following on the likes of Facebook, you might also want to think around some paid promotion on mobile using the “snapchat.com/add/username” link to drive awareness and direct click-throughs to the app and your account.
These tips and tricks were compiled with the help of Karinna Nobbs – our partner in crime for #FashMash Bootcamp. Head over to Forbes for further insight into 10 fashion brands particularly nailing their Snapchat strategy.