Snapchat and the golden opportunity for travel marketing

Snapchat was the fastest growing phone application of 2014. And with 120 million active users sending over a billion snaps per day, the app is poised to grow bigger and faster in the coming years.

NB: This is a guest article by Drew Goldberg, founder of the travel blog The Hungry Partier.

But wait… I know what you’re already thinking.

Isn’t Snapchat just for teenagers to send naked selfies that disappear?

Well, yes, to an extent.   And that’s what probably contributed to Snapchat’s early success since its launch back in 2011.

But over the years, the app has evolved to appeal to a much larger demographic (my mom already has Snapchat), and now you are able to post quality content to a global audience.

If you don’t know what Snapchat is, or are clueless to how it works, then here is a quick overview:

Snapchat is a photo messaging application, where users can take photos and videos (called snaps) and send them to a controlled audience.

On any snap that you take, you’re allowed to draw pictures with your finger on the screen, type up to 35 characters, and/or use fun emojis if you choose.

You are also required to set a time limit (from 1-10 seconds) for how long the recipient can view each snap you send.

The app works in two ways:

  • The user can send a snap to their close friends –  like a text – but the snap will disappear forever after the recipient opens it.
  • The user can upload a snap to their Snap Story, which can be viewed by a larger audience.  In Snap Story, each snap is available to view for exactly 24 hours before disappearing forever.

How is Snapchat different from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

The one feature that sets Snapchat apart from the other big social media players is the complete privacy aspect.   There is no sharing, liking, or commenting – and there isn’t a running stream of content on display.

Also, user-engagement levels are much higher on Snapchat, because the viewer’s finger must be touching the screen at all times to view the snap, or else it will just disappear.  You can track how many users have opened your snap by looking at the metrics available.

The fact that the snap disappears is what makes the app so exciting, because what you are viewing is practically live and only available to see once before tuning into a memory.

Snap Story was introduced in late 2013, and it is essential to utilize if you want to build a following and market your brand.

You can use your Snap Story to upload photos and videos in a narrative-like fashion.  It’s intended to be fun and exciting, and it’s a great way to connect with your audience.

Use myself as an example.  Being a travel blogger, I’ve had enormous success using Snapchat to build up my brand and followers.  I post 10-15 snaps per day, documenting my travels around the world.  I share things that are interesting and I encourage others to snap me back with their travel questions and thoughts.

Over the past two months, I’ve gained more than 3,000 followers by using specific strategies, which I will describe later on.

But it’s not only travel bloggers that can effectively promote their brand on Snapchat.  Companies such as ESPN, MTV, Taco Bell, National Geographic, The Daily Mail, Disneyland and tons more have had success  using Snapchat to connect with their audience.

Let’s dig in deeper, and investigate how National Geographic, Daily Mail and Disneyland uses Snapchat to market effectively.

National Geographic has turned to Snapchat to post interesting content, articles and photos about travel and adventure.  They  host “Snapchat Quizzes”, where they ask questions and encourage their followers to snap back the answers.   The company typically publishes 5 snaps per day around 8AM EST, so people can wake up and check early in the morning.

It says about Snapchat:

“We think it’s a great platform to reach new audiences.  It puts us in front of a great group of young people and gives us a chance to speak to our strengths in photography, video and social.”

The Daily Mail posts exclusive videos and content on Snapchat with animations, music and sound effects.  They choose to post around 3PM, because that’s when schools usually let out (their target audience).

The Daily Mail’s North American CEO (and former Buzzfeed president) Jon Steinberg says:

“Among the pantheon of platforms, Snapchat is the closest thing to a cable network.  There’s actual programming involved here.”

Disneyland uses Snapchat to showcase activities in their theme park.  It has had success playing games and asking for their audience to participate.

For example, on Christmas Day, it asked its fans to draw and design a tacky sweater, send it back to them to Snapchat. It chose its favourites and reposted in its Snap Story for everyone to view.

Quick tips to build a following

  • Start by following big influencers to get ideas and learn strategies
  • Use your current social media channels to bring people over to your Snapchat
  • Be creative and post exclusive content that your followers want to see
  • Be consistent by strategically timing out your posts
  • Play games and offer prizes to your followers who snap back

Just have fun with it!

NB: This is a guest article by Drew Goldberg, founder of the travel blog The Hungry Partier. His Snapchat account is @drewbinsky.

NB2: Snapchat image via Shutterstock.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.



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  1. Lindsey

    I am wanting to use snapchat for tourism for our town. I would love to use snapchat, but I’m confused about the purpose of people snapping back to you. What do you do with those snaps? Screenshot and post elsewhere? Or is there someway of saving it and resnapping? I’m assuming no.

    Also how does snapchat pick accounts to use in the “live” section. I noticed with the live feature, snappers can send a snap they see by holding down and sending it to their friends. But this feature seems highly exclusive. I’m not sure if this already exists but it would be great if there were local versions of the live feature using gps. So people could see what was happening live in the next city over. I like seeing snaps from cities all over the world and all but I would prefer seeing snaps from my neighboring towns/cities that I could actually visit.

  2. Drew Meyers

    I’m not a big snapchat user at all. Some friends send them to me, and I watch my backlog every week or so. I don’t ever send anything back ..and generally don’t see the point of the app. I don’t care, or want, snaps from people outside my close close friends (10-15 closest). Why not just use text messages?

    from seth godin (
    “Just in time, mass media is going away too.

    Mass marketers don’t like this and they often don’t even see it. They’re struggling to turn Snapchat and Twitter and other sites into substitutes for TV, but it’s not working, because it’s an astonishing waste of attention.”

    I think they are going to ruin the use case within super close friends by trying to go broader / more public. Once marketers get ahold of it in bigger way, it’ll lose the (extremely little) appeal it currently has to me. A visual version of Twitter? I, for one, am not interested.

  3. inder handa

    Excellent article ,written in a layman,s language


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