Snapping For Success

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In our previous articles in this series, we’ve broken down the platforms of the social media giants, Facebook  and Twitter, into an easy to understand guide to using these services for personal branding and professional networking. But what about the rapidly expanding entertainment-oriented platform, SnapChat? SnapChat is an underrated tool for personal branding and networking, and its huge user base (even larger than Twitter, in terms of active users) is just beginning to be tapped for its vast marketing and networking potential. Getting in on this “newest big thing” while it’s still early, especially after their recent IPO, is a great way to get a competitive edge and get your name on the lips of the people you want to reach.

Platform Overview: SnapChat

SnapChat, and its parent company Snap Inc., have reinvented the wheel of social media. Similar to apps like Instagram, SnapChat is primarily geared towards entertainment, allowing users to share photos and short video clips with their contacts, send them directly to friends, and even target local users with their Geofilter feature. The pictures and videos can include a short caption, a drawing, and even entertaining or informative overlays called filters.

Billions of individual “snaps” are created every day, both as 24-hour Stories and as individual messages that disappear after 1-10 seconds in a masterstroke of privacy protection. SnapChat also has traditional messaging options, such as chatting and video calling, and built-in reminders to keep you, and your friends, exchanging snaps regularly.

Five Key Features: SnapChat

Geofilters:

Based on your location when you send a snap or upload a story, you have the option to add area-specific overlay filters to your snap. This is an excellent feature for local networking, as it gives you the chance to visibly “check in” to a community, a local business, or even a personal or professional event. There are three types of Geofilters available (and you can create your own): Community (for specific geographical districts and public places), Personal (for events), and Business (for local businesses, offices, and stores).

Stories:

Stories are a series of snaps, both stills and video, that give an ongoing glimpse into your life. These snaps, unlike individual messages, are available for viewing for up to 24-hours. They are viewable by all of your SnapChat contacts, providing an opportunity to reach your entire network in a single stroke. It also creates a sense of urgency, because if your content is going to disappear, curiosity will draw your contacts to view it before it does.

Trophies, Streaks & Reminders :

If you haven’t sent a snap to one of your contacts for a while, they will appear under your “recent” section in the ‘Needs Love’ section. Snapchat has developed a novel system of reminders and awards to keep people snapping. This simple feature which appears next to the username can save you a lot of time and headache monitoring your activity and trying to keep up with everyone you’ve connected with on the platform. You also will see a streak indicator if you and the other user are sending consecutive snaps over a period of days. This gives both you, and your contact, incentive to stay engaged.

Snap Map:

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SnapChat’s latest update has courted some major controversies. While being accused of being dangerous or creepy the Snap Map can come in useful for recognising networking and branding opportunities. If you notice a concentration of your professional contacts frequenting a certain coffee shop it might be reasonable to assume it is near to where they work. Given this knowledge, it is possible to organise meetings with these contacts at a location which local/accessible to them. This advantage encourages people to attend meetings and more receptive to taking time from their schedule due to their minimised travel time.

Snaps & Messaging:

Snaps, be they video clips or still pictures, are a great way to engage with your network on a one-on-one basis. You may want to send out a personalised greeting to all of your friends, share some industry news with professional contacts, or show that you’re attending a special event like a product launch or a seminar for your field. With filters, captioning, and drawing available to customise each snap, you have total control over the content you associate with your name, and an almost endless capacity to tailor snaps to fit the needs of any relationship, casual, personal, or professional. You can also set the privacy of each snap, with it disappearing after 1-10 seconds, which gives you even more control over how you present yourself. When you want to send a purely professional message to your network connections on SnapChat, or to meet face-to-face with a distant colleague or industry influencer, you can.

Though the foundation of the app is the image and video creation, there are traditional messaging and video-calling features to use when an image would come across as unprofessional.

Who are the users?

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Snapchat is especially popular among young adults, with 45% of their active users falling in the 18 to 24-year-old range, but it has recently gained steam in the 35 and older population. Like most social media platforms, Snapchat users vary in ethnicity and nationality, with over 60 million of their 166 million daily active users living in the US and Canada.

Power User Tips & Tricks

Drawing in Emoji:

Ever want to draw with more than the colours you’re offered? By tapping the icon below the colour bar in SnapChat, a dropdown menu of emojis will appearing. Pick an emoji and you can draw with it, just as you would a normal colour.

Video Controls:

SnapChat makes it easy for you to switch between cameras and zoom while videoing. To switch cameras simply double tap the screen, while zooming is done by scrolling with one finger.

Create Your Own Geofilters:

SnapChat allows you to create personal filters and submit them for free. If you have a birthday party or a wedding upcoming, you can make it that bit more memorable for your guests by having a filter on their SnapChat just for your event.

Create A Group Story:

Using the plus sign in the top right hand corner of the stories tab, you can create custom group stories. You have the option of naming the story, setting a geofence, meaning only people in this locality can add to the story. Alternatively, if you’d like to control who can post, you can select multiple people from your friends list with permission to post. Another feature is the ability to control who sees the story, while by default it is set to friends of friends, you can lock it to a group of people from your, or your friend’s friends.

Networking Opportunities: SnapChat

With college students and recent graduates making up a large portion of SnapChat’s impressive user base, the opportunity to network with like-minded peers and young professionals in your field is substantial. Beyond that, Snapchat is gaining popularity with internet users and smartphone owners over the age of 25, increasing the networking potential for reaching other professionals in your industry.

However, SnapChat’s somewhat informal communication style, with a focus on entertainment, has the most potential to be used for personal branding, rather than professional networking. The sheer number of options when adding a snap to your stories or sending one to a friend let you customise the way you present yourself to the world. You have complete control over who sees your content, and for how long, as well as the ability to tailor your snaps to project the image you want to be associated with your name.

Overall, SnapChat is a goldmine of potential professional and personal networking connections just waiting to be explored. For personal branding purposes, the highly customisable public image and the native privacy settings can’t be beat. SnapChat is proving itself to be a “next big thing” in marketing and brand building for companies, and it’s simple to put it to use for your personal brand, and your professional network, as well.

How important is regular interaction with your network? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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