Many old marketing hands will see Snapchat as a pointless fad for millennials. In a way, they are right. Sending pictures that only last up to 10 seconds, or 24 hours if you really want to show off, may seem a little useless to those who  are yet to fall victim to the addictive social networking app.

Proclaimed as being “10 times faster than an MMS (multimedia messaging service)” by  Evan Spiegel, the app’s co-founder, it’s no wonder that Snapchat is ranked the second most downloaded photo app in the U.S. right now, according to App Annie. It’s major rival in the top spot being Instagram:

Recently, Snapchat has reportedly surpassed Twitter in daily number of users, with 150 million people using the photo app each day – compared to Twitter’s 140 million, according to Bloomberg.

So, despite any doubts a marketer may have about the platform and it’s seemingly narcissistic ideals, it only makes sense to put this huge potential audience to good use. In creating a Snapchat account, brands are able to tap into a new batch of ‘brand fans’. These new consumers who become fans of the company’s social pages are likely to be loyal to the company, and are more open to receiving information about the brand (Bagozzi et al., 2002). Brand fans also tend to visit the store more, generate more positive word-of-mouth, and are more emotionally attached to the brand than non-brand fans (Dholakia et al. 2004).

Since Snapchat has relatively limited functionality – pictures, 10 second videos and a couple of lines of text, you have to get creative. Of course, the app offers a range of lenses, emojis, stickers and filters to help you do this. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are my top three really clever examples:

World Wildlife Fund Denmark: #LastSelfie 

This campaign really pulls on the heartstrings. We often see Snapchat as a really lighthearted fun means of communication but this really turns it around. We all know that snaps only stay on our screens for a few seconds – in that short amount of time an endangered species can be completely wiped out if we don’t take action. Examples from the campaign include a picture of a gorilla with the caption “Better take a screenshot, this could be my #LastSelfie.”


Audi X The Onion: The Superbowl 

This campaign is probably one of the most famous and successful campaigns of all time – Audi and The Onion partnered up for the Superbowl, creating a series of  humorous photos and captions to highlight the typical behaviours of people during the game… except they used cute pets. The campaign saw Audi’s following spike to over 5.5k, one of the biggest Snapchat has ever recorded. A reasonable theory behind this success would be that puppies and babies” are often used to increase an ad’s attention getting capability.  Animals are effective in marketing communications because they are inherently likeable  and able to communicate a culturally defined meaning to the consumer (Aylesworth et al., 1999).

Aren’t we cute? Photo by Levi Saunders, CC0 1.0.

Taco Bell: Valentine’s Day 

We’ve all seen those clever e-cards floating around the interwebs, they’re normally really sarcastic and often insulting. Well, Taco Bell took these cards on and reinvented them for a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign on Snapchat. Valentine’s is all about being cheesy – so that’s exactly what they did with the captions. Tantalising pictures of the popular chain’s food were used alongside a corny pun. For example: “Nacho average valentine” – it was an instant hit amongst millennials.

Nachos, by Herson Rodriguez, CC0 1.0.

Snapchat is definitely a powerful tool for reeling in a younger audience. In order to harness its true power, you must be willing to take some creative risks and experiment with all the features this unique app has to offer.


Aylesworth, A., Chapman, K. and Dobscha, S., 1999. Animal companions and marketing: dogs are more than just a cell in the BCG matrix!. NA-Advances in Consumer Research Volume 26.

Bagozzi, Richard P. and Utpal M. Dholakia , 2002. Intentional Social Action in Virtual Communities,  Journal of Interactive Marketing,  16, 2, pp.2–21.

Dholakia, Utpal M., Richard P. Bagozzi, and Lisa K. Pearo, 2004. A Social Influence Model of Consumer Participation in Network- and SmallGroup-Based Virtual Communities, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 21, 3, pp. 241–63

Creative Commons: 

Snapchat logo, by MIH83, CC0 1.0.

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