I started thinking about this post, or pondering Snapchat for B2B as I said in the headline, about six months ago when I saw an article by Gary Vaynerchuk about the topic. It was called Why Snapchat will be great for B2B companies.
The headline of his article is meant to draw you in, because you don’t quite realize he is talking about the future. “Though Snapchat is not the place that I would recommend doing B2B activity right now,” wrote Vaynerchuk, “I am completely convinced that in 24 to 36 months, as the platform dramatically ages up and starts hitting the 30 to 50 year old demo, there will be enormous possibilities”
He continued to describe the platform in a manner that is totally in line with a storytelling approach to content. “Snapchat will be an excellent place for B2B players who act like media companies — media companies that create stories to bring value to their end users.” But again, he’s talking about the future, not now.
I’ve had Snapchat on my phone for more than a year and until recently had never sent a single snap, as a message is called on the platform. Jason Keath of Social Fresh has advised marketers who are unsure about the platform (and me when I asked him directly) to use it personally and learn how it works. My teenage children are my tutors in my endeavor to follow this advice.
On a few recent trips I have been sharing photos and videos, creating a Snapchat Story, which is the more public way to share. But as the very nature of Snapchat is that everything disappears, you can’t go back and see them. And neither can I. But soon, we will be able to, as Snapchat announced a new memories feature where you can save your photos and videos in the app. This is also a huge boon to marketers, because this now lets you post photos and videos that were not shot in the app to a Story.
This is the platform that is exploding in the social media world. It has grown very fast, it has a young and desirable audience, and they share privately. This means that there are articles about the platform every single day, so if I don’t finish this today, there will be more tomorrow.
This is a millennial and younger platform, and while many B2B companies do not specifically target these younger generations, there are certainly plenty of heavy Snapchat users in decision-making positions at B2B companies of all sizes. But as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, older people are joining the platform, so it becomes less about a particular demographic and more about a way to connect with customers.
While lots of the coverage is about how big consumer brands have used expensive advertising on the platform, the article linked above, and this one dedicated to B2B marketers, show that marketers are eager to learn this platform.
Here’s the thing about Snapchat (if you are older than 23): it does not feel intuitive when you start using it. There are lots of different swipes and taps that reveal functions that you didn’t know existed until you saw someone using it. It just feels like the point is that your friends have to tell you how it all works. This is another part of the private nature of the platform. So I’ll be your friend and tell you a few things, but you won’t understand it until you use it.
There are basically three parts of Snapchat: Snaps, Stories and Discover. Snaps are the messages, photos or videos that are sent privately between friends either individually or to groups of friends. If you see a millennial using Snapchat, this is most likely what they are doing. Once the Snap is received, it disappears shortly after it is viewed. Next are the Stories. This is a collection of photos and videos that are available for 24 hours. They can either be visible by your friends or everyone based on your privacy settings. And finally there are the Discover sections, which are the sponsored content sections posted by media and publishers.
I’m not going to talk about how to follow brands or how to build a following, because the internet is filled with many of those stories. Go to your favorite marketing site and search for Snapchat articles. You’re sure to find something. Here are a couple of resources for learning more about how the platform works and the best brands on Snapchat, which only include a few B2B choices.
So where does that leave us in our pondering of Snapchat for B2B? I haven’t mentioned analytics because there aren’t any. They are certainly coming because big brands can only pay big money for so long before they need to see some numbers. Can you tell the human story of a B2B company on Snapchat? Of course you can. This is similar to how the best B2B companies have used Instagram and Vine, but there is more intimacy and immediacy on Snapchat because of how people use it.
There are no live links so it is probably not the best for directing prospects to landing pages. And because there are no good discovery mechanisms, either for accounts or Stories, this is more a platform for your customers or your known universe. Like a lot of social media platforms, early adoption and understanding starts with B2C marketers and it just takes some time for the leading B2B marketers to master it.
In a recent episode of Marketing over Coffee, Chris Penn and John Wall talked about Snapchat for Business, and concluded that “you’re not going to sell enterprise software on Snapchat.” But I’m holding out hope that we can try to strengthen our relationship with our B2B customers by showing them what happens behind the curtain.