8 Easy Ways to Build a Following on Snapchat

I’m sure you’ve been hearing about Snapchat these past couple of years. Whether it was about teens “sexting” or the young founders turning down billions from Facebook, Snapchat has made consistent headlines. What you might not realize, however, is that Snapchat is becoming part of the marketing mix, and can’t be ignored.

Brands are using the platform to interact with current customers and acquire new ones.

In fact, check out these other amazing stats:

  • 18% of all social media users in the US are on Snapchat (source).
  • 70% of Snapchat users are women, which makes this a great outreach tool for that demographic (source).
  • 71% of Snapchat users are under 25 years of age, so that is the other main demographic that you can reach (source).
  • 30% of millennials in the US use Snapchat regularly (source).
  • 77% of college students use Snapchat every day (source).
  • 58% of college students have stated they would likely buy a product from a brand that sent them a coupon via Snapchat (source).

Just to underscore Snapchat’s value, Facebook reportedly offered to purchase it for $3 billion.

To give you a quick tutorial, here are a few things you can do with the app:

  • Send photos
  • Send videos
  • Doodle on photos or add captions
  • Text other users
  • Build a visual narrative

We know that there are a lot of elements to the platform that might not be intuitive; in fact this founder made his employees communicate solely on Snapchat to learn the platform. Many of Snapchat’s users are teenagers and college students who learned how to use the platform in person sitting side-by-side with their friends.

Why is Snapchat confusing to a lot of users?  Your profile is very sparse, and you don’t have a URL on Snapchat. There are no suggestions for whom you should add, and unless you know specific names, you cannot add anyone else.  The user interface can also be confusing for some; the symbols on the home screen can look pretty esoteric until you un-riddle them.

How is Snapchat Different From Other Social Networks?

  • There is no automatic metric feedback for you to use.  Some feedback can be measured manually, but other feedback is impossible to get.  You can read a great article on this topic here.
  • There are no likes, shares, or comments.  In short, there is no way for users to quickly re-share your content to everyone they know.
  • Snapchat will not suggest a bunch of users to you to add.  You must manually add people you know by name, or wait for others to add you.
  • Snapchat has an active interface rather than a passive interface.  Users do not have a feed that scrolls forever that throws random content at them.  They have to actually open the Snaps they want to view.

These differences may seem inconvenient when you are new to Snapchat, but many of them will ultimately play to your advantage.

Remember, these distinctions encourage Snapchat users to be more engaged and involved than users on many other social networks.  On top of that, Snapchat is the only platform that helps establish a creative narrative for your brand through engaging video content.  Communities can really feel the impact of your content.  If you are willing to give it a try, you will find it is a very personal way to interact with customers and potential customers.

Is Snapchat Right for Your Business?

It is estimated that 77% of college students use Snapchat every day.  More than half of them have stated they would like to interact with new and favorite brands on Snapchat for news, promotions, and discounts!  These are youthful users, and many of them have expendable income.

If your company caters to millennials then Snapchat may be the next big social network your brand should look to invest in. From our experience with seeing brands grow on new social networks, the key is to get in early.

But how do you actually reach these users and grow your brand’s presence on Snapchat?  Users cannot share content with each other, so it is pretty hard (though not impossible) to “go viral.”  This poses unique challenges in building an audience, but also unique opportunities.

The keys here are that you don’t really necessarily have to post or be active on Snapchat to generate a following there. Unlike Instagram or Facebook, it doesn’t look bad if you aren’t active on the platform because the way the Snapchat feed works, you only appear when you post – not when you don’t.

Get a Snapchat Handle

The first step to building a following is getting on Snapchat. Even if you currently don’t plan on using Snapchat as part of your digital marketing plan, you should go ahead and sign up. Doing so will help protect your brand from cybersquatters or impersonators as well as ensure that your username is reserved should your digital strategy change (more on that in a bit).

To sign up, head over to the AppStore for iOS or GooglePlay for Android and download the app.
Snapchat Login Screen

Grab a username for your business – aim for it to be the exact spelling of your business or for it to be the same name as the rest of your social profiles. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, you can’t search for Snapchat names, so people are going to guess the name of your business. Make it easy by just using the name of your business.

Now that you have an account, take a look at our 8 favorite tips to help you start your Snapchat strategy and create an engaging community.

Create Your SnapChat QR Code

Snapchat has a neat feature where you can create a QR code and post on social. When someone sees this QR code, they can hover Snapchat’s camera over the QR code which will lead to them following you.

Snapchat QR Code

To get access to your Snapchat QR code go to:

  1. Go to URL ->
  2. Save image
  3. Customize it (if you want) so that it fits your brand’s image

Creating a customer Snapchat QR Code

While you could post these QR codes on your social media profiles, remember that a lot of people are already using their mobile phones while on these networks. This means that they won’t be able to use your QR code unless they use a secondary phone or are browsing while not on their primary phone.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t share your QR code through your other social networks  – it just means that you’ll want to get creative with how you use your QR code to maximize its benefit.  For example, you can use Snapchat’s add friends nearby feature when people are checking out at your register or when you are at a trade show.

DJ Steve Aoki, an American electro house musician, record producer, and music executive, plans on using his Snapcode on large screens at his concerts as well as placing them on T-shirts to allow fans to easily follow him on Snapchat.

Promote Your Snapchat Account on Your Website

Your website is a highly visible spot to promote your Snapchat account, so this is an excellent way to gain followers.

Groupon, the group buying site that offers deals on a daily basis, has taken the step of setting up a page on their site for Snapchat users.

Promote Your Snapchat Account

The page informs users which name to add (remember, users can only add Snapchat accounts by searching for a specific name; there is no smart match feature for related search terms), and stated, “We’re kicking off our new Snapchat account with a week of free stuff.”  Groupon also invited users to send snaps in exchange for other rewards.

This strategy paid off nicely for Groupon, and can pay off well for you too.  It makes it much easier to find your Snapchat account and understand the benefits.  Inviting users to send you snaps is brilliant too; it tells users that you are interested in them, and you don’t expect all the interaction to be one-way.

Promote Your Snapchat Account Via Other Social Platforms

Promote your Snapchat account on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking accounts you maintain.  This may take longer than you like, but the results will be great, because the people who add you actually want to interact with you.

Facebook: You can use the About section of your Facebook business page to add links to other social profiles. Use it to include your Snapchat name.

You can also make use of the tabs section and create your own customized tab as a way to promote your Snapchat account (or any other digital channel such as your blog, other social profiles, etc.)

Customized Facebook business page tab to promote Snapchat

Twitter: You can put your Snapchat name in your bio as well as tweet out your QR code.

Tweet from HBO Show Girls

Instagram: You can put your snapchat handle both in the description of your Instagram page and in the location section of your Instagram posts (if you aren’t using that already).

You can put your snapchat handle both in the description of your Instagram page and in the location section of your Instagram posts

To add your Snapchat username into the location of your Instagram photos:

  1. Take a photo
  2. Add location
  3. Type in follow us on Snapchat @ business name
  4. Post
  5. It will be saved as a location and used in every post

Post Your Snapchat Content to Other Social Platforms

There are actually two ways you can use your other social media pages in conjunction with Snapchat!  Don’t just use Twitter, Facebook, and other sites to tell others to follow you on Snapchat for exclusive content.  Post at least some of your Snapchat content on those social media sites after you post it on Snapchat.

Why?  While exclusivity has its draws, and so does the fleeting the nature of the Snapchat medium, sometimes you want to preserve popular Snaps.  Posting them on your other social media sites allows you to save them as an example of what users can look forward to when they add you.

Carmichael, one of Snapchat’s first “viral” users, uses Tumblr to showcase his Snapchat stories, which take a comic panel format and regularly end with cliffhangers.  Users who find him on Tumblr can see what he sends out on Snapchat, which gives them a reason to follow him.

Using Tumblr to promote your Snapchat account

This is a great example of what you can do with your business Snaps!  When you have a really popular Snap, post it on a social network where you have a strong following and use it as a “preview” of what users can enjoy when they follow you on Snapchat.

To download the content you create on Snapchat so that you can share it with your other social networks, just use the save feature (see screenshot below).

Snapchat photo

Promote Your Snapchat Account on Relevant Forums

Forums and niche websites are also great places to promote your Snapchat account.  If you have a presence on sites like these, just follow the same guidelines you do on your website and other social networking accounts.  Make sure you tell everyone the exact name to add to follow your Snaps, and offer some kind of reward in exchange for adding you.

Offer Deals and Exclusives in Exchange for Followers

One of the most powerful techniques for growing your Snapchat audience is to offer special deals and discounts. Think about it for a moment.  The time limited nature of a snap can be used to create a sense of urgency–there is nothing worse than missing out on an opportunity.  Users are encouraged to take action on the offer quickly, even if it means just saving the snap initially, which increases the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase later on.  You can add a second layer of urgency by putting a time or quantity limit on whatever is being offered in your snap.

Groupon Wiz Khalifa Snapchat Promo

Groupon used this technique very effectively.  In a promotion with rapper Wiz Khalifa, Groupon sent out a Snap announcing an amazing deal: the first person to see the Snap and act on it could buy tickets to a Wiz Khalifa show including a backstage pass for just $4.20.  How much activity did this deal generate?  Over 1,000 messages on the platform, more than 250 screenshots, and hundreds of views even after the deal sold (which took two minutes).

Another example is Acura.  Acura offered its first 100 Snapchat followers a short video clip of their new NSX prototype.  See if you can come up with a special promotion or exclusive content which you can offer to your first X followers.  Regularly send out special deals just for your Snapchat followers.  People will start following you so they can snag these deals before they disappear.

Leverage Social Influencers

One of the more unique Snapchat business success stories is Wet Seal.  The teen retailer gave a popular 16-year-old beauty vlogger control of their account for two days.  The vlogger, Meghan Hughes, had a huge following going into the promotion: 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, 49,000 followers on Twitter, and 101,000 followers on Instagram.

The result?  9,000 new followers for Wet Seal and 6,000 views of the story.  Considering that Wet Seal had only 2,000 followers before the promotion, working with Ms. Hughes gave them quite a boost!

Think about whether there is a popular social media personality your business could partner with.  Whether or not that person is already highly successful on Snapchat hardly matters, since you are promoting your account.  All that is important is that they have the reach to draw in traffic and convert new followers.

Word of Mouth

Even though Snapchat users cannot share content with each other directly on the platform, that does not mean they cannot share.  In fact, you could make the argument that Snapchat is more viral than other social media platforms in some ways.

How so?  Because all the content on Snapchat disappears quickly (Stories vanish in 24 hours), users have to tell their friends quickly if they want them to see it.  No one wants a friend to miss out on a cool video, a special announcement, or a discount which is going to vanish overnight.  As a result, Snapchat promotes word of mouth.  And word of mouth is one of the most reliable and rock-solid ways to build a reputation in the world of business.


Snapchat is a fairly new game in the world of social media marketing. Be creative on how you obtain users on Snapchat. It differs since it is not based on likes, shares, or comments, but building an audience is easy to do if you follow the suggestions above.