This blog post is an up-to-date guide for understanding the business aspect of Snapchat, and to learn how to build a following to market yourself.  

I launched an original Snapchat Marketing Guide back in April 2015, but as you can imagine, that content has quickly become outdated. This post is an updated version of the old one.

Within the last year, Snapchat has emerged as my #1 social media network to connect & engage with my global audience, and I have grown a large following of 15-17K+ views per snap (my username is @drewbinsky or you can take a photo of my snapcode below).

In this article, I am going to share many of my thoughts, strategies and insights with you.

If you enjoy my advice in this article, I will kindly ask for you to share it with your network of friends. Also, feel free to comment below with your thoughts & questions!

Understanding Snapchat Marketing

This article is broken up into the following 10 sections:
1) Intro
2) What Exactly is Snapchat?
3) Snapchat Facts
4) Why is Snapchat so Effective?
5) How is Snapchat Different than FB, TW and IG?
6) Snapchat’s Demographics Aren’t Young Anymore
7) My Own Story: How I got Started
8) What’s the Future for Snapchat?
9) 7 Tips for Building a Following
10) Snapchat Resources

1) Intro to Snapchat Marketing

Right now, as I write this from a glorious coffee shop in Lima, Peru on July 18, 2016 – Snapchat is in its peaking stage of user activity. How long will this period last? Who knows… but I can predict that it’s going to keep exploding in popularity over the next several years. Until 2020, at least.

140 million users.

That’s the number of active monthly users Snapchat currently has (it just passed Twitter for active users). Among these 140+ million users, a total of 10+ billion videos are being viewed every single day (more than Facebook). This number is projected to reach 15 billion by Jan. 2017 .

It’s obvious to admit that my generation – us millenials (people born between 1980-2000) are completely hooked on social media. We are obsessed with sharing our life experiences with our friends, just as much as we enjoy stalking the hell out every acquaintance we make in our lives. Did you know that one out of every 4 pageviews on the internet is on Facebook? (cite)

In my eyes, Snapchat is the most revolutionary social app we’ve seen in history, and its user base is growing bigger and more loyal by the second. It was the fastest growing app of 2014 & 2015, and is on astronomical pace to be the biggest social media network in our time.

The best part?  It’s still relatively young (the app was launched in 2011), so now is the best time to capitalize and start building a following before it becomes overly commercialized (which is already starting to happen).

2) What Exactly is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo messaging application where users can take photos and videos (snaps), and either send them directly to their friends (like a text message) or upload them publicly on their “Story” for anyone to view.

On each snap, users are able to draw colorful pictures with the in-app marker, type words on the screen, and/or use fun emojis.

And the kicker to Snapchat – the feature that sets it apart from any other social media – is that after the recipient views the snap, it is gone forever and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

This means complete privacy.

It might sound hard to believe, but if you really think about it, Snapchat is the closest thing to communicating in real life.  Imagine you are meeting your friends for lunch, or talking to your friend on the phone — once you leave each other and finish the conversation, the information that you discussed is gone, but what happened still remains in your head as a memory. That’s what Snapchat does – even though the content disappears, the viewer will want to come for more.

3) Snapchat Facts (as of June 2016)

– Snapchat was developed in 2011 by three Stanford students as a school project. The CEO is Evan Spiegal and he is my age — 25 years old.
– Snapchat has 3 main offices and several hundred employees.
– 10+ billion snaps are viewed daily
– The company was last valued at $30 billion
– Over 140 million active monthly users 
– 65% of users are under 25 years old
– 80% of U.S. college students use Snapchat daily
– Users are in 150+ countries
– The average age of users 15-26 years old, and the majority of users are from the USA.

**I dug these facts out from different sources all over the web, so I cannot be 100% sure that they are accurate.**

4) Why is Snap Chat so Effective?

1) It works like a text message – Snaps immediately are sent to the recipients phone and they will receive a notification – just like a text message, but much it’s more entertaining and fun. Like a surprise!

2) You have extreme PRIVACY – Nobody else can see what you’re doing on Snapchat besides yourself. It’s personal. This is perhaps the most attractive feature of the app, because it sets it apart from the other major social media platforms.

3) You don’t need wifi to send snaps – This is crucial especially for us travelers who don’t always have access to strong wifi on the road. You can take as many snaps as you want, and save them on the app to resend when you do have access to wifi. I’ve been doing this in on my current trips and it’s been working magically.

4) It’s quick and to the point – There is no bullshit with Snapchat. You send a photo/video, and the recipient views it. No re-Snapping, no sharing. That’s it.

5) It’s fun –Snapchat is a more FUN way to communicate with your friends and followers than just standard texting.  The same way that watching videos is more fun than reading blog posts.

6) It’s Customizable – After you take the photo or video, you are able to choose any color and draw freely on the screen with your finger. You also have the option to write up to 50 characters on the screen. Better yet, you can use emojis and put them anywhere on the screen and make them as big or small as you want. There are unlimited options to customize your snaps!

7) Users will Anticipation Your Snaps – If you are somewhat entertaining and creative with your snaps, then people will start looking forward to your next post. Just like Instagram.

8) Photo + Video Option – While photos are nice, videos are much more powerful. You are allowed up to 10 seconds of video to send.

9) It’s addicting – You know how Tinder can be addicting? Yeah, Snapchat has 140 million active monthly users. People who are on it can’t seem to stop (I’m guilty of it too).

10) It’s behind the scenes – My favorite part about Snapchat is that you are essentially filming your life experiences behind the scenes! Nothing is planned or staged.  People are seeing content exactly how you are seeing it in real life. It offers an incredibly your viewers a unique perspective, almost as if they are standing next to you.

11) High user engagement –  When someone is viewing your snapchat, you can be sure that their eyes are only viewing your content. This is unlike Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where users quickly scroll through their overpopulated newsfeeds and hardly retain any information, unless it pops out and catches their eye. 

5) How is Snapchat Different than FB, IG, TW, G+ and Pin?

There are several key differences between Snapchat and the other BIG 5 social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

1) Snapchat has is no vertical stream of content. No photos or videos are automatically displayed publicly in a vertical newsfeed to scroll through. Each snap is viewed individually from each other, and only seen by the user.

2) Snap Stories disappear after 24 hours. Snap Stories nearly act like a live event, because if you miss the story after 1 day, then you’ll never get the chance to see it again. This is perhaps the most exciting part of the app!

3) The Snapchat audience is highly engaged. You can be almost certain that the recipient is retaining your content, because you can see analytics of how many eyeballs viewed your snap. Snapchat has no distractions, unlike Facebook & Twitter, where you never know how many people actually saw your content in their busy feed.

4) There are no likes, comments or shares. Once you view the snap, it’s history. You can’t share it publicly with anyone else (unless you screenshot it and upload it to another form of media).

5) There is no “search” or “discover” option to find your favorite celebrities or role models. On every other social media, it is very easy to find people by typing their name in the search bar.   Snapchat doesn’t have this option (yet), so it remains exclusive.

6) Snapchat’s Demographics Aren’t Young Anymore

“But Drew, my target audience isn’t people between 15-26 years old and they aren’t from the USA. So, I don’t think Snapchat will be useful for me…”

Not so fast! You might want to rethink that over again.

I do realize that Snapchat is more effective if your followers are American millennials (say between 18-30 years old), because this is the biggest demographic of the app’s users. However, that is rapidly changing.

In the wise words of Gary Vaynerchuk, “By the year 2018, don’t be surprised to see most 55 year old men using Snapchat more than any other social media.”

Right now as you’re reading this, I consider Snapchat to be in the same early peaking stage as Facebook was in 2007-8, or Instagram in 2011-12. It’s just getting started. The Snapchat “boom” is just starting to happen.

Just think about the beginning stages of other popular social networks that started in the U.S. – like Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, Vine, Tumblr, etc. Each one started off within a small American demographic, and later spread to all corners of the globe.  Facebook was launched exclusively on college campuses, and now look at the demographic?

Therefore, it is in your best interest to get on Snapchat immediately, before the HUGE wave hits where everyone and their grandmothers are using it. Get on it before brands start to ruin it.

And if your target audience does happen to be American teenagers and young adults, then consider yourself extra lucky. There is massive potential for you.

7) How I Got Started with Snapchat

I guess you can call me a veteran Snapchat user.

I first downloaded the app when I was in college in 2011. At the time, it was brand spankin’ new and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I initially thought that Snapchat was a way for young guys and girls to sext each with naked photos and videos. And to be honest, that is probably one of the reasons why the app had so much immediate success at the start.

I didn’t use the app much for about a year after I downloaded it. Over time, I gradually jumped on the bandwagon when most of my friends were using it as a fun way to communicate and send photos.

From early 2013 until I wrote my original Snapchat Marketing Guide in March 2015, I was using Snapchat more to share clips of my travels to my friends back home. It was the best way for me to stay in touch with them and keep them informed on my travels.

And then, I was sitting at this exact table in Jaisalmer, India when the light bulb went off in my head.

As I was typing away amidst that 400 year old fortress, I realized how I can use Snapchat to build a massive following all over the world (because snapchat had just introduced “Snap Stories” at the time). I realized that Snapchat was a brand new concept and big brands and advertisers hadn’t saturated the market yet. I felt like I was predicting the future… and I was!

Right after that day, I started figuring out how to build a following on Snapchat. Pretty soon, I was having a large amount of random people view my Snap Stories regularly (in addition to my close friends).  I hit 1K, then 3K then 5K views/snap within a few months.

Then, as I kept traveling all over Europe and Asia – I went Snapchat crazy.

I was spending most of my time and effort into growing my Snapchat, because I knew that I could leverage myself above the rest of the field. I started doing collaborations with other Snapchat influencers and brands, and my numbers were growing quickly.

Today, as I write this, I am getting between 15-17K views per snap.

8) What’s Next for Snapchat’s Future?

There is no doubt that Snapchat will continue to grow, which means that they are going to make adjustments and add new features, much like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram did in their pivoting stages.

Snapchat has recently introduces “memories,” where users can upload old content from their photos directly to their story.  While this was a game changer, Snapchat still holds onto its basic principles that make it stand out over the field.

CEO Evan Spiegel says that he wants to do “anything to be different than the traditional social media networks.” Therefore, I don’t expect to see anybody “liking” or “sharing” snaps in the future, because then the platform would just turn into another version a Facebook.

However, what will likely change is the user being able to see more accurate analytics and insights from your followers.

As of right now, the only two insights that users can get see are:
– how many eyeballs viewed your snaps
– who (if anyone) took a screenshot of your photo/video

In the near future, however, I think that we will be able to see how many “followers” you have, which countries your viewers are coming form, how old they are, and more.

They will continue to add more geo-filters based on locations, and continue to host live events from around the world.

9) 7 Tips for Building a Following

1) See what others are doing – Watch your favorite personalities and other Snap Chat Stars. See what they do to engage with their audience.  I know all bloggers actively stalk other bloggers in their niche to see what they are doing.  I am guilty of this everyday. What is business without competition anyways?

To start, here are some really popular celebrities on Snapchat.

2) Have fun with it – Show people that you like to have fun. If you do this right, then you will create a good experience with everyone.

3) Use your current social media accounts to leverage yourself. Make call-to-actions on all of your accounts.  I’ve been asking people to follow my travels on Snapchat at the bottom of every Instagram post, and I do the same on Twitter & Facebook.

4) Be creative – Think about your Snap Stories in a linear sense, because people will be viewing your content in the same order that you took the snaps. Decide on which type of story you want to share, whether it be a long narrative from a sporting event, or short fun photos of your everyday life, or videos of you dancing to EDM at a nightclub.

5) Be consistent – try to get feedback from your fans and keep your “style” the same.  This same strategy applies for Instagram.  If you just upload a bunch of random things at random times, then people won’t know what to expect.

6) Just be yourself – If you just be yourself and don’t try to hard to put on a show, then people will become more attracted and start to spread the world to their friends. If you are entertaining and are doing cool shit, then you will get followers. Trust me, it has been happening to me and it can happen to you, too. Be normal.

7) Think outside the box. Remember the guy I told you about named Shaun McBride with a huge following? He is a master at this.

In a recent Snap Story, Shaun created a Jurasnap Park, playing off of Jurassic Park, full of all of his friends. He invited his followers to take a selfie, draw themselves into a dinosaur and send it back to him. Then, Shaun took screenshots of his favorites and reposted all the dinosaur snaps of his fans on Twitter for the world to see. This was VERY smart because his fans now felt involved because it was a group project, rather than a project he just did on his own. I saw the story on this article.

10) Snapchat Resources

The following are some good websites and apps that you can check out to see what other Snapchatters are up to!

– 11th Second
– Ghost Codes

Thanks for reading! Please comment with your thoughts, questions and concerns below and don’t forget to follow me on Snapchat @drewbinsky!

Lastly, I will leave you with my Snapchat Highlight Reel across 50+ countries  🙂


Drew Binsky

A graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Drew Binsky has visited 190+ Countries since 2012.He first caught the travel bug while studying abroad in Prague, then taught English in Korea, and now he's on a mission to visit every country on earth.Follow his journey on YouTube & Instagram @drewbinsky 🙂

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