Susan Johnston Taylor

Susan Johnston Taylor has covered business and entrepreneurship for publications including The Boston Globe, Entrepreneur and FastCompany.com. She’s also a regular contributor to the money section of USNews.com.

Earlier this year, mobile messaging app Snapchat surpassed Twitter in daily usage. Savvy brands and entrepreneurs now use Snapchat for business in order to connect with fans, but unlike other social media platforms where messages and photos live on, snaps (the images shared on Snapchat) can have a limited shelf life and self-destruct within a few seconds after the user views it.

We talked to Mark Kaye, Snapchat expert and talk show host, about why entrepreneurs are using Snapchat to market themselves, how to build a following and what not to do. The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

StartupNation: Are there certain types of businesses that lend themselves to marketing on Snapchat?

Mark Kaye: Every business can benefit from Snapchat. I really find that solopreneurs—coaches and authors and people like that who have personality and who basically are their business—really do well on Snapchat because they’re selling themselves. One woman I worked with, her name is Anna Selby, and she’s a real estate agent in Phoenix, and she Snapchats every day. She Snapchats houses, she Snapchats her kids, she Snapchats herself at the pool, and it really boosts her business and her following because people become friends with her.

If you’re more of a startup with a product, or if you’re trying to launch a Kickstarter for something really cool, you can also benefit from Snapchat. Maybe not necessarily by opening an account for a product that people may not want to follow, or opening a Snapchat account for your company that people haven’t heard of, but by getting those other personalities, those influencers, those people that have a following on Snapchat to snap for you, or on your account. That’s a very popular way of marketing and growing an audience quickly.

Mark Kaye

(Mark Kaye)

How often should people snap?

Kaye: Frequency is different for everybody. Some people have to do it every day. Some people do it multiple times a day. Some people do it once a week. Whatever your consistent plan is, stick to it so that your audience knows what to expect.

There are some people that snap once a month, and only when they have something exciting or important going on, and that also builds excitement. When you see somebody that you haven’t seen in a while on Snapchat, and you know that they’re going to have a great story, you’re more willing to watch that or jump on it.

What should they be snapping?

Kaye: Snapchat makes it so tough because they add some new quirky update or tool or just crazy thing that you can do every single day. Don’t get wrapped up in Snapchat’s little pictures and nuances. Snap your life, snap your product, snap your job, snap your art. Just look at it as another way to take whatever you’re really great at, what people love about you already and get it out to a new and bigger audience.


Also on StartupNation.com: Q&A with Video Marketing Expert Lou Bortone


Should you snap the same things you share on Instagram or is there a different strategy on Snapchat?

Kaye: I use Instagram differently than Snapchat. Some people use Instagram very heavily, some people use it as a causal user. The way I use Instagram is as a way to capture an archived snap. You know, when you save your snap, I would repopulate them or republish them on Instagram, push my audience towards there because on Instagram it stays a lot longer and you can hashtag it. It’s a great way to build your audience, but it depends on where your audience is.

If you have a totally different audience on both platforms, then you can give them different pieces of content, but what a lot of folks do is they’ll tease on Snapchat maybe a 15-second video and say, “Hey, you want to see the rest? Go to my Instagram.” It’s a great way to tease between the two, and get your audience active on both.

How can you build your following on Snapchat?

Kaye: There are three simple ways to build your following. It’s like an A, B, C method, and the first is to advertise your Snapchat. They give you a little code–it’s a couple of little dots in a square–that’s something that you need to put out wherever you can: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. People put it on business cards. I see it on TV commercials now even. Your Snapchat name, follow me on Snapchat.

Then blasting. If you have an email list or if you have an existing social media that’s pretty strong, blast them out and tell them I’m on Snapchat. “I’m going to be doing this cool thing on Snapchat. I’m answering your questions one-on-one on Snapchat.”

And then the C is collaborate because Snapchat doesn’t make it easy for you to find and follow new people. There’s no follow button, there’s no search for similar accounts. You basically have to collaborate with other Snapchatters and have them promote you and you promote them and you guys come up with great stories together that live on both of your accounts, and that opens you up to a new audience.

When I started, I just started interviewing all the big Snapchatters, and once I posted an interview on my Snapchat account, which had barely anyone watching, these big time Snapchatters would watch it and say this is really good, and they’d go on their Snapchat accounts that had thousands and thousands of people and say go follow Mark Kaye.

What mistakes do you see on Snapchat?

Kaye: I see people Snapchatting too much. They’re not entertaining enough or they’re not offering quality content. Another mistake I see people doing is, as we’ve talked about before, is snapping too little. Giving your audience time to forget about you.

The third thing is just advertising. You know, Snapchat is a story-telling platform. It’s called your story for a reason. They want hear your story. People want to be entertained. If you’re advertising, you better wrap it around a really compelling story.

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