Just say the word Snapchat to an author and you’ll probably get a confused look or a flat-out eye roll. For those of you who aren’t 13 years old, Snapchat is a mobile social media app, and it’s not quite like any other. Snapchat has its roots as a popular sexting app for college kids because the content disappears after 24 hours. And with the proliferation of social media use, many teens were finding their posts and embarrassing photos being used against them when applying for jobs or colleges. This need for privacy and control over personal content triggered what social media marketers have now called: the mass exodus from Facebook, where millions of young people either abandoned or deleted their Facebook accounts.
If you are an author marketing to teens and young adults, then Snapchat is definitely the place to check out. As of 2018, the site boasts of over 187 million daily users reaching 40% of people between the ages of 18-24. It’s gotten so popular that even the White House joined in 2016. Millennials and Gen Z are a demographic that’s hard to reach, and nobody knows this fact better than Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, who tried to buy the app in 2013.
Why Snapchat Confuses Older People
Snapchat isn’t like the other social media sites by design, because all posts (snaps) are not permanent. Snaps are deleted after 24 hrs of being viewed (unless you take a screen pic) and those snaps that remain unopened are deleted after 30 days. Snaperchatters are rewarded with points and trophies for account activity, which can be too video gamish for most adults. Another deal breaker seems to be the pointless small talk, as well as Snapchat’s silly photo filters.
As you can see, Snapchat isn’t a place to be serious, so you can’t treat it like Twitter or LinkedIn. That fact alone, disqualifies authors who schedule content and blast it out to all their social media accounts. Those techniques just won’t work on Snapchat, I’ll explain later, but for now, let’s see where authors are tripping up.
Where Everyone Goes Wrong
As I said previously, Snapchat is a spur of the moment type of site. Most young people send private messages and respond to snaps with more snaps of their own. You are often rewarded for keeping threads going for extended periods of time with points which can can earn users the right to access trophies for completing certain tasks or reaching milestones. This is a psychological trick the site uses to keep people on Snapchat for longer periods of time and it works well.
Also, like other social media sites, video is a popular feature however, unlike all the other sites videos on Snapchat are only 10 – 60 seconds long. That means traditional marketing won’t fly here. So not only do you have to be brief, but you need to be interesting in a visual format. This can be a challenge to authors who are used to expressing themselves through the written word. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, there are authors and book reviewers doing well on Snapchat. But before I tell you who, let’s get the basics down, below, I’ve listed five important steps to getting started on Snapchat.
Step #1: Watch A Few Snapchat Tutorials
For those of you willing to take the plunge into the Snapchat universe, there are several tutorials that you should check out before signing up:
- How to Use Snapchat: A course of basic tutorials created by the good folks at Snapchat.
- Tutorials For Businesses: A series of tutorials by Snapchat.
- Snapchat Etiquette by Emmatainment (Youtube video).
Step #2: Get Followers
Okay, so you have a basic understanding of Snapchat, now it’s on to the next step and that is getting your first followers. The common advice for building a following is to leverage the ones on your other social media accounts or from your email newsletters. However, if you don’t have either one, you can find Snapchat groups where you can promote your account. Just be sure to mention you’re an author and are looking for people who are into books and be sure to share your snapcode. If you don’t know what that is please, return to step one!
Below are a few Snapchat groups you can check out:
- Facebook Group called: Snaptrain
- Goodreads thread: YA Reader’s Corner
- Twitter & Instagram: Post about wanting more followers while using the hashtag #Snapchat and #FollowMe.
- Google+ community: Snapchat-Android-Beta
Another way to find Snapchat followers is to go to the search engine of your chosen social media site and enter the words “snapchat” and look for promotional groups. I’ve found Facebook and Google+ to be excellent sources to find Snapchat communities.
Step #3: Stay Away From Third Party Apps
I know a lot of authors want to manage their time wisely on social media and the best way to do that effectively is through scheduling posts. Sadly, Snapchat still wants people to post content directly through their app. This policy will most likely change in the future, as it did for Pinterest and Instagram but for now, users are stuck in a scheduling purgatory. There are scheduling apps that do exist but all of them violate Snapchat’s terms of service. That means your account could be suspended or shut down if you’re discovered using one, which is why I’m not mentioning any of their names here.
Step #4: Find A Few Influencers
Now that you have a few followers, it’s time to start networking with influencers. Since Snapchat doesn’t have a normal directory, people generally go to an app called Ghostcodes. Ghostcodes, is a database of Snapchat users who are looking for followers. They sort out accounts under the categories of; storytellers, entertainment, business and even viral stars. Now, I know what you’re thinking Rachel, didn’t you just say that Snapchat forbids third party apps? The answer is yes, I did, but Ghostcodes isn’t a third party app, which means it’s not an app that links to your account, so you’re free and clear.
For those not interested in being a follower, you can always ask to be featured on the app, but you’ll need to fill out this form.
Other directory apps that are similar to Ghostcodes include:
Step #5: Figure Out What To Post
Since your content disappears after 24 hours, and videos are only 10 seconds, time is of the essence on Snapchat. I know that sounds like a bad thing but Snapchat can be ideal for things like a flash sale or even a cover reveal. The types of content that do best are snaps that are humorous, unique, and relevant. Here are more ideas on the type of things you can create on Snapchat:
- A quick author reading
- Hold Q&A’s
- Share advice or tips
- Announce a sale, giveaway, or offer a coupon
- Share a short quote, or joke
- Snap a live event
- Upload a book trailer
- Create a story based on older snaps or photos from your camera roll. You can introduce yourself, or put together a little slide show explaining your work.
Book People On Snapchat
Despite what you may believe there are YA authors, as well as book reviewers on Snapchat, so it would be wise to watch and observe how they use the site if you’re struggling with ideas. Here is a small list of just some of them, you’ll have to search for them in Snapchat’s search engine:
- BookFerretSnaps (Reviewer)
- Zoe Sugg (Author)
- RomanceBeckons (Reviewer)
- OneIllLouise (Author)
- JohnGreen (Author)
- BookRiot (Reviewers)
In Closing: A Discussion On Bad Marketing & Respect
Teens initially left traditional social media like Facebook, due to lack of privacy and respect. It doesn’t matter that Facebook is the biggest social media site in the world, teens saw that it wasn’t serving their needs so they took off. In fact, social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, made this comment about Snapchat: “There are two things that are very true when it comes to teens. One, it’s not cool to hang out at the same club as your mom (Facebook). And two, you want to lock your room.” So far, Snapchat covers all these bases.
And while we’re at it, I have to mention a huge mistake I see adults committing on social media and that’s trolling (rudeness and disrespect). You might be shocked to see how many authors love to discuss how dumb and weak Millennials and teens are. Now here’s my question, how can an author despise the very people they’re trying to sell to? YA authors in particular, need to be careful and use tact when addressing tragedies or when giving unsolicited advice. If it’s not from the heart and from a place of understanding, then it’s best to keep it to yourself otherwise, you may come off as a know-it-all or worse yet, a shill. Remember, good marketing requires that you care, and if you can’t do that, then do everybody a favor and just stay on Facebook.