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Marketing to College Students Via Snapchat

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For many marketers, Snapchat is still the wild west of social networks. Though 77% of college students use the app at least once a day, the mobile app’s format leaves no room for the standard marketing strategies marketers usually rely on to reach that demographic.

Brands can only tap Snapchat’s thriving college student audience by embracing the channel’s creed to seize and share the moment. Since one-size-fits-all marketing doesn’t apply to this channel, here are seven best practices to produce successful brand Snapchat content:

1. Be Creative

The most popular use for college Snapchat users is “creativity” (37%), followed by “keeping in touch” (27%), according to Mashable. Consider how your brand message speaks to those terms as you develop Snapchat content.

2. Timing Matters

Most college students use Snapchat on Friday and Saturday evenings, according to Mashable. Consider timing as a factor in your brand Snapchat strategy.

3. Be Authentic

College students don’t like being directly sold to. Avoid perfectly curated stories and stock visuals. Create stories that include a real-life application of your brand.

4. Motivate by a Mission

College students are more motivated by a mission than money, notes Adweek. Weave an idealistic undercurrent into posts and use the channel for cause marketing.

5. Fear Not, Smaller Brands

Nearly 75% of college students said they would open a Snap from a brand they knew, according to Mashable. Less well-known brands might consider using Snapchat Discover, a paid location on Snapchat where brands can share content. Brands can leverage Snapchat Discover to gain a greater audience, similar to paid social amplification on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

6. Tell a Story

Snapchat gathers stories for longer, local streams called Our Stories, which are ten-second videos that appear for 24-hours at a time. This format can convey what your brand is all about. Don’t think ad, think narrative: appeal to the emotions of college students rather than list off brand features.

7. Keep it Light

College students remain positive about the future, according to Bentley University. To this end, keep your Snapchat content light and positive, even cheeky.

Successful Brand Snapchat Accounts

Now that you’ve read about best practices, here are some examples of brands that appeal to college students via Snapchat.

1. Taco Bell

Taco Bell was an early adopter to Snapchat, but maintained interest through the years. In fact, their Cinco de Mayo post with a custom taco lens garnered 224 million views in one day, notes Adweek.

Why did they see such success as a brand on Snapchat? They focus on exciting visuals and leveraged Our Stories to inform their audience of new menu items.

2. GrubHub

GrubHub, the food delivery company, hired “Snapchat artist” Michael Platco to produce popping visuals for the brand on Snapchat. “The platform’s mixture of art, comedy, and real-world photography has also bred its own form of superstar,” the Daily Dot says, in describing Platco.

3. National Basketball Association (NBA)

The NBA features behind-the-scenes clips via Snapchat with exclusive player interviews and sneak peeks during games “including at the Draft, All-Star Game and Finals” according to Social Media Examiner.

Your brand is only as good as its last Snap — and college students are a critical audience. Use the above strategies to tailor your brand’s Snapchat for the best chance at success.

Snapchat isn’t the only social platform brands are using to reach students. Learn more about what retailers are doing to market via Instagram. 

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