Snapchat Tips for Social Media + Sports

Snapchat is no longer the new platform on the block. And while it took time for brands and teams to join the party, it is now a staple in many brands’ social media presence.

For those not familiar with the platform, Snapchat is a messaging app focused on sharing “fleeting” moments. Users take a photo or a video, add a caption or doodle and send it to a friend or add it to their Story to share it with everyone. Snaps are set to view for up to 10 seconds, and then they disappear.

There are many reasons your brand, team or league might consider activating on Snapchat. If you are trying to reach a younger demographic, then it is definitely a platform to consider. The platform has 100m+ active users with their core audience being 18 – 24 years old.  Additionally, Snapchat engages users in a more authentic way. Users chose to view your content. The platform has a leg up when it comes to capturing consumers one-on-one attention.

If you decide you want to activate on Snapchat or already have an account and want to ramp it up, here are tips to get you started (with a little help from others in the industry):

 

Have fun.

Snapchat isn’t a platform where users are debating theory and the world’s meaning. It’s a platform that is meant for light-hearted content, silliness and fun. Take a look around you. Watch people’s phone habits. If you spot someone on Snapchat, I guarantee they’re taking a selfie or showcasing something humorous.

It is important for brands, teams and leagues to mimic user habits. Be native and true to the platform. This means brands, teams and leagues cannot take themselves too seriously if they want to succeed on Snapchat. Two of my #smsports friends said it best:

Bottom line. Think like a fan and have some fun.

NASCAR’s Snapchat account is a great example of a brand that does not take itself too seriously on the platform. They’ve embraced the fun, quirky nature of the platform and found a way to create content that is entertaining— whether or not you’re a NASCAR fan.

 

Focus on people.

Snapchat content is raw and full of first-hand perspectives. Typically, people and personalities are the center of the content. A people-first approach is a great way for teams and leagues to handle Snapchat. Step away from the ticket sale plugs and promos; let your players and personnel show a peek inside their lives and personalities.

There are many ways to get your people and personalities involved in the content, from “digi” autographs to full Snapchat takeovers. Here’s a look at some people-first content from the MLS (many of this content comes from takeovers):

A great case study for this is @OU_Players. The Oklahoma Athletics Snapchat account has a niche focus: The sole perspective of its student-athletes. Yes, their Snapchat account is in the hands of its players (hence the name). This approach is strong for several reasons. First, it really stays true what type of content performs well on the platform. Forget the corporate promos, @OU_Players is going to be a real and raw. Secondly, it defines a unique niche for Oklahoma’s Snapchat presence, providing a point-of-view fans won’t see consistently on their other platforms. It’s a smart strategy!

 

Cross-promote the account.

Snapchat doesn’t have hashtags where users can search rich content and stumble upon your account. It’s important to cross promote your account because of that. Focus on promoting it during the launch, special campaigns, unique content initiatives, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 5.14.46 PM

 

Snapchat has also made it easy for users to add friends through custom QR codes. To add someone, users take a photo of someone’s QR code using the Snapchat camera. Take a screenshot of your account’s QR code from your phone and promote that picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. To add your team account, all a fan has to do is open the app, point the camera at their computer screen (and on the ghost) and tap. You can even customize your QR code with a unique look and feel (directions here). A simple and cool way to cross-promote your account! Below are two examples of customizing the QR code.

 

CIMwXc2UcAE6z8P

 

 

 

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If you don’t promote it, fans won’t find it!

 

Enlist creatives.

There is a whole world of creative people on Snapchat telling stories through a unique lens and fantastic doodles. Find those creatives who are also passionate about your team, league and brand to enlist them for a takeover during a game, event, etc. Using Snapchat influencers/creative people can help tell the story in a unique way and even bring other people into your account (if they cross-promote).

You can also look internally for people on your team who don’t work in social, but have a knack for drawing or are power Snapchat users. Can they provide a unique perspective and collaborate on the account in a way that adds value? Don’t go at the Snapchat journey alone. Make it interesting. Enlist creative Snapchat users.

If you want to see what a true Snapchat influencer can create, check out Shonduras here.

 

Engage fans.

It’s important to find unique ways to get fans to interact and engage with your content on Snapchat. This helps foster a deeper relationship with your fans and will have them coming back to your stories and snaps over and over again.

There are many ways to engage fans on the platform. From doodle contests to unique promotions, below are a few case study examples.

Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs asked fans to submit their own doodles of Jamaal Charles for a chance to win a prize. To get more out of the use-generated content and engagement, the digital team used the graphics on their site as a photo gallery for more staying power. This is a great way to engage fans and see their creativity.

Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning participate in an annual tradition surrounding the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs known as the Beard-a-Thon® to raise money for the Moffitt Cancer Center. This year they encouraged Lightning fans to join them in the campaign.

One of the ways fans joined the campaign was to share their beards on Snapchat to LightningNHL or post them on twitter with #BoltsBeards to be featured on the Lightning beard gallery. The Lightning got more than 500 submissions. And like the Chiefs, this was a great way to rally fans and get them involved.

#BoltsBeards

MLS Snapchat Voting
This year the MLS turned to Snapchat to have fans vote for the all-star captain. To vote, all fans had to do was take a screenshot of the player they wanted. The prompt to have fans take a screenshot is a unique way to engage fans, and it definitely works well as a voting mechanism.

 

Use the features.

Snapchat has several features that make the platform unique from photo filters to doodling. These features are part of what makes the platform fun. Leverage them to make the content stand out.

Unsure how to unlock all the features? Below is a video that shows you unique Snapchat tips from the full color wheel, unlimited text, creating an animation and more. There are many videos like this on YouTube. A simple “Snapchat tips” search will unlock hours of distractions and unlimited potential.

 

Unlock the geofilter.

Snapchat allows users to upload geofilters, which are special overlays for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations. To leverage, simply choose the geographic area you want your filter to be available in and upload an image asset (more info here). Geofilters are a great way to leverage brand ambassadors and have others promote your team. Here’s an example of some geofilters:

MLS actually held a geofilter contest that also ties back to enlisting creative and engaging the community. For the start of the season, the league offered fans the opportunity to design original geofilters for four different MLS markets during opening weekend. To enter, fans had to post their original artwork on Twitter using the hashtag #MLSsnapchat for a chance to win. The league selected one overlay for each market to win. Here’s a look at the winners:

 

Tell a story.

Snapchat Stories are a way to add Snaps together to create a narrative. Think flipbook. When you add a Snap to your Story, it lives for 24 hours under “Recent Updates” where friends can explore it at their leisure before it disappears. This is the key for brands: Instead of having to send a Snap to every Snapchat friend individually (and spamming them), users and brands can now add a Snap to their Story that lives for 24 hours for their entire Snapchat audience to consume.

Brands and teams can now reach the masses on Snapchat and not worry about one-on-one messaging. This update eliminates tedious work for brands, opens the door for long-form content and allows teams to push out content without annoying their fans (since fans decide if they want to view it.

The key to great Stories on Snapchat is to focus on quality Snaps and an interesting narrative. Do not just throw content on at your fans; think about an interesting way to piece together Snaps that relevant, interesting and fun. James Royer of the Kansas City Chiefs said it best:

Think of the stories at the narrative. Be artful, strategic and add value.

 

Give a glimpse inside.

Because content on Snapchat is often raw, behind-the-scenes looks work really well on the platform. Find ways to piece together narratives that give fans access; some them something they don’t see through traditional coverage. This will help build a stronger bond with fans.

Takeovers, as mentioned above, are a great way to give fans a glimpse inside. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the players to see who else can host takeovers. From coaches to the operations staff, there are a lot of ways to give fans a look inside the team, league or season.

The Saints do a good job of giving fans inside access from their account:

I hope these tips help you as you brainstorm ways to use the platform. And in case you need a little more inspiration, here’s some additional, awesome Snapchat content from leagues and teams:

 


 

 

What tips do you have for Snapchat? Be sure to share them, along with your favorite follows, below! 

Thanks for reading. 

Iowa State Athletics Does Snapchat Right

Iowa State joined Snapchat in April of 2014. They wanted to reach a younger fan-base, particularly the college students on campus, and they felt like the platform was a great avenue to do so.

Their inclination was certainly right. Snapchat was the fastest growing messaging app in 2014, and the demographics skew young. In fact, a study found that 70 perfect of college students post there at least once a day. If one of your goals is to reach a younger demographic, Snapchat is definitely a platform you should take note of and consider.

Iowa State Athletics’ Snapchat strategy has certainly paid off. They have seen tremendous growth and been able to reach students on campus:

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Picture via Carter Collins on Twitter: http://bit.ly/1FfrQNy

So, what’s their secret? They are thoughtful in how they approach the platform. They don’t treat Snapchat like every other platform; they focus on good content and quirky/fun initiatives that are native to the platform.

“We try and provide engaging content, without being boring,” said Becca McLaughlin, the Marketing Associate for Iowa State Athletics. “It is easy for an organization to get caught in a rut of just showing pre-game warm-ups or previewing an upcoming event by snapping a picture of a flyer. While we do show pre-game/in-game content we try and mix in other engagement like behind the scenes content, student-athlete takeovers, contest, etc.”

What really stands out about the Cyclones’ Snapchat presence is the creativity in how they leverage it. They don’t just push content, but they engage their fans, cross-promote in unique ways and always mix things up. Here’s just a small glimpse into some of their unique Snapchat initiatives:

 

Student-Athlete Takeovers

The Cyclones have handed their account over to student-athletes several times now for takeovers. The takeovers provide fans with a “day in the life” look at what it means to be an Iowa State student-athlete. I love the concept of takeovers on Snapchat more than any other platform; they are very native to the platform (how most users use it). And, it’s a great piece of behind-the-scenes content.

 

#cyclONEnation Map

Iowa State wanted to track how many fans from across the country tuned in to watch Iowa State MBB away games and where the fans come from. In order to do this and grow their fan base on Snapchat, they created a campaign called#cyclONEnation Map where they ask fans to help them unlock the map by sending in a Snap from their location. The campaign is cross promoted heavily across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

In-Venue Promotion

The Cyclones don’t just promote Snapchat across platforms; they also promote in-venue through the nifty “take a picture” trick. Cross promotion is key for success on any platform. This is smart:

 

Hilton Filters

Snapchat now offers geofilters, which are special overlays for Snaps that can only be accessed in certain locations. To leverage, simply choose the geographic area you want your filter to be available in and upload an image asset (more info here). Iowa State Athletics has taken advantage of this feature offering geofilters in Hilton. These are a great way to leverage brand ambassadors and have others promote your team:

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Doodle Contests

The Cyclones don’t just push content on Snapchat, but they also encourage their fans to send them Snaps. One of the most creative initiatives from them are doodle contests where they ask their fans to Snap their best doodles around certain themes. This is a great way to engage fans, generate content and unleash creativity. Here’s a look at two of the contests they’ve hosted:

Thumb Puppet Contest


Birthday Cake Contest

 Holidays

 

In addition to all of these great initiatives above, one of the keys to Iowa State’s success is cross promotion.

“With Snapchat (and any other SM platform) in order to grow your following you must cross promote on other platforms, but do it in a creative way so what people will want to follow you on your other channels,” said McLaughlin. “It’s important to not give them too much, but just a ‘taste’ of what you have to offer like on Snapchat, that way they will be curious and go and follow you.”

It’s apparent that Iowa State has nailed the Snapchat thing. They have fun, engage with their fans and really push creative and quirky initiatives. If their presence inspires you to start ramping up your approach to Snapchat, McLaughlin has one more piece of advice.

“Like any of our other accounts you have to stay creative and on top of the latest trends,” said McLaughlin. “I think it’s also VERY important to listen to your fans and pay attention to what other successful brands are doing and then tweak it to fit your needs. Don’t be afraid to fail, learn from both your successes and failures and build off of them equally.”

All sound advice from McLaughlin. And, great execution on Snapchat from the Cyclones to serve as inspiration. Now take this advice and start snapping away!


A big thanks to Becca McLaughlin for taking the time to answer questions about Iowa State’s approach to Snapchat. Be sure to give her a follow on Twitter: @beccajoy9

As always, thanks for reading! 

An Easy Way to Cross-Promote Your Snapchat Account

I never liked how you add people on Snapchat.Without pictures and profiles, it’s always been hard to know if I added the right person or account. Yesterday though, Snapchat added a feature that makes it easier for people to add others on the platform. It also makes it easier to cross-promote accounts elsewhere.

Here’s what they did: Snapchat rolled out custom QR codes to each profile. To add someone, users take a photo of someone’s QR code using the Snapchat camera. It’s as simple as that. 

There’s a workaround that makes this feature really cool for teams and leagues to cross-promote their account. Here’s how it works: Take a screenshot of your account’s QR code from your phone and promote that picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. To add your team account, all a fan has to do is open the app, point the camera at their computer screen (and on the ghost) and tap. A simple and cool way to cross-promote your account!

Here’s what it looks like:


Have you tried to promote your Snapchat account this way? If so, did you get more followers? I would love to hear how it worked.

Thanks for reading! 

Snapchat in Social Media + Sports

Snapchat came onto the social scene in September 2011, and while it’s been around for quite some time, I’ve neglected it on this blog. I don’t have a problem with Snapchat, I’m just cautious about jumping on a new platform for the sake of doing so. I wanted to take time to understand Snapchat and how consumers use it.

After a couple recent updates though, and stats that are hard to ignore, I decided it was time to take a good, hard look at the platform. Here are the platform stats:

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So let’s start at the beginning. If you aren’t familiar with the platform, Snapchat prides itself on being a “fast and easy mobile conversation”. It’s a mobile messaging app where users can take pictures, add their own text and art and then set them to expire in one to 10 seconds.

The app started off without a lot of bells and whistles: Send a photo to a friend that will eventually disappear. It’s easy to understand why it was hard for teams to grasp where they could play on such an intimate (no pun intended, sorry) platform. Since October of 2013 though, Snapchat has been making brand-friendly changes. Let’s walk through some of the changes you should know about:

October 2013- Stories

Snapchat Stories are a way to add Snaps together to create a narrative. Think flipbook. When you add a Snap to your Story, it lives for 24 hours under “Recent Updates” where friends can explore it at their leisure before it disappears. This is the key for brands: Instead of having to send a Snap to every Snapchat friend individually (and spamming them), users and brands can now add a Snap to their Story that lives for 24 hours for their entire Snapchat audience to consume.

Brands and teams can now reach the masses on Snapchat and not worry about one-on-one messaging. This update eliminates tedious work for brands, opens the door for long-form content and allows teams to push out content without annoying their fans (since fans decide if they want to view it). Here’s what a Story looks like from a team:

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