A B2B Marketer Spends a Month with Snapchat

Less Yappening, More Snappening: is Snapchat Ready for B2B?

July 4, 2016

“I need another social network like I need another black t-shirt,” I told myself. “I can’t waste time on something that doesn’t deliver value.”

I’m not one to fall victim to shiny object syndrome, but Snapchat kept getting up in my business. Whether it was GaryVee insisting it’s the next great thing for B2B, or HubSpot applauding its benefits as a content platform, I finally decided I better take a closer look.

I would test Snapchat for a month, doing my best to find at least one “Snap-able moment” every day to add to my “story”—the equivalent of a news feed on LinkedIn or Facebook. Along the way, I would look for a business use case

Getting started

If it weren’t for the Millennial on my team, I wouldn’t have gotten past the download. Looking at this app, I felt like the old dude in 2008 who had just discovered Twitter. “What in the hell do I Snap about? My lunch?” Today, Twitter is indispensable for amplifying content and connecting with the broader content marketing community. Would I follow the same trajectory with Snapchat? It seemed like a long shot.

This app is not exactly intuitive. At first, I was frustrated. Intimidated, even. The fact that it takes only vertical video is mildly annoying. At Cannes last year, founder and CEO Evan Spiegel explained that they tried everything to get people to turn their phones horizontally, but it just wasn’t happening. So they went with vertical, essentially creating a new format for video that only looks good on their platform. Way to create a competitive advantage!

Okay, then. Vertical, it is.

A few trial Snaps, and I feel like I’m getting the hang of this. You take a photo by tapping on the screen, or a short video by holding down the record button. Then you can add text to it, or graphics, colors, emojis (Ugh! I’m old-school.), and so forth. Hard-core Snapchatters go crazy with filters and double-filters, geofilters and who knows what-all. I’m not there yet. 


Next up is finding people to follow, and figuring out who’s following me. (Tip: I keep my social handles consistent—Jasonmillerca—so it’s easier for people to find me.) You can let the app access your contacts to find out who you know is already on Snapchat. Of course Ann Handley has already been here awhile—I knew that!

You know those ridiculous-looking avatars where the person puts her face behind the Snapchat ghost logo? Now I understand the reason for that. Pull up an article like this one on HubSpot, and you’ll notice it’s full of those avatars. Take a photo of one, and you can follow that brand or person immediately. You can also search for user names manually. A few of my favorites: AdAge (@advertisingage), HubSpot (@hubspotinc), GE (@generalelectric), and the New York Times (@thenytimes).

How do you know if someone is following you? Go to your friends list and touch on any of the names. When the details open, look for a Snapchat score next to the username. That’s the number of Snaps that person has sent and received.

If it’s there, she is following you. Yes!

If not, she is not following you. Maybe she’s not really much of a Snapchatter, after all.

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To Add a Friend on Snapchat simply open the app and take a snap (photo) of their avatar.

What’s here for marketers

The more I used this app, the more I liked it. It helped to have a fellow Snapchatter in the office to practice on. By month’s end, I was actually enjoying myself, diving into friends’ stories, as well as certain brands. I even started getting just a tiny bit addicted, so be careful! The last thing we need is more apps sucking time out of our days.

Did I find value from a B2B marketing standpoint? My answer to that question for now has to be “No.” For B2C, it’s clearly game on, with companies like Everlane and General Electric breaking through to a new generation of shoppers. But even still, Snapchat is managing to pull in just a tiny fraction of marketing dollars, compared to the big social media players.

As cool as Snapchat is, I don’t see anyone making a 25K purchase after watching a Snap, or even accelerating customers through the funnel. Although it’s true that Snapchat combines two hot trends in marketing—video and transparency—the analytics are an obstacle. They’re super limited, and tend to disappear just like the Snaps themselves. That’s a bit of a deal breaker for most B2B marketers I know.

With that said, the world just got one more Snapchatter, and I’m pretty much digging it. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as GaryVee predicts, Snapchat matures in the next couple of years to become the next YouTube. With that in mind, I foresee a couple of use cases that make sense for B2B marketers now, to help us get used to this new format and build our Snapchat skills: 

1)    Snap moments from live events. Raw, insightful, backstage moments from company or industry events may be the perfect place to experiment, build knowledge about this platform, and develop a nascent Snapchat audience.

2)    Build your talent brand. As my colleague, Sean Callahan, pointed out recently, the stories current and potential employees tell about your company when the bosses aren’t listening are hugely important. Snapchat could be a great place to create a company culture story that inspires engagement (rather than eye rolls) among the smart, creative audience you’re looking to reach.

That’s my assessment. Snap on!