As the Facebook crowd gets older and greyer, Snapchat is the young whippersnapper of social media. An app that lets users send short-lived images, messages or videos from their mobile devices (the messages disappear after a maximum of 10 seconds), Snapchat has become the most popular social media platform for teenagers. More than 60% of smartphone users between the ages of 13 and 34 now use Snapchat, and more than 150 million Snapchatters use the app daily, according to Bloomberg.com. That translates to more 8 billion video views every single day on Snapchat. In fact, the app recently surpassed Twitter in popularity, and a 2016 survey by research firm Piper Jaffray found that 28% of teens say Snapchat is the most important social network (followed by Instagram at 27%).
To put it simply, Snapchat is a nationwide phenomenon. And pizzeria owners who make use of it can interact with their customers in exciting new ways. True, this is yet another social media app that you’ll have to keep up with, in addition to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And older users may find Snapchat a little bewildering—even intimidating—to navigate at first. But this red-hot app provides you with a direct channel to a highly desirable demographic that also happens to be the next generation of pizza consumers. So let’s take a closer look!
Take Customers Behind the Scenes
I know what you’re thinking. Do I really need another social network in my life? It seems like there will always be some hot new social media platform. Some become huge—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the best-known examples—while others fade away after a few years. When’s the last time you checked your Myspace page?
But if its recent growth is any indication, Snapchat isn’t going away anytime soon—if ever. I’ve been pretty bullish on it for a while now, and, as I dive into it more and more, I’ve come to believe that it can be a great resource for pizzerias and restaurants. In fact, I think it will rank right up there with Facebook and Instagram.
Snapchat users are really engaged with the individuals or businesses that they follow, and the Snapchat “Stories” feature, in particular, is unique. Creating a story is a fun and fresh way for you to show a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your pizzeria while letting your hair down and keeping things casual. Although individual snaps typically disappear within seconds, your Snapchat stories can be viewed for 24 hours. Some pizzerias use this feature as a way of offering daily specials or fun contests with a pre-determined expiration date. It’s also a great way for you to get comfortable with producing content on a daily basis.
But before we talk about how to use Snapchat as a marketing tool, we first need to cover the basics of getting started with the app.
Setting Up for Your First Snap
Want to follow PMQ on Snapchat? That’s the Snapcode above. Remember, most snaps, such as the one on the right, disappear after a maximum of 10 seconds, making for a user experience that’s quite different from Facebook or Instagram.
First, you’ll have to download the Snapchat app, which can only be used on a mobile device, from your app store. It’s available for both Android and Apple phones. Once you download it, you’ll set up a new account using your name, email address and birthday. You will also be asked to pick a username up to 15 characters. (On a side note, even if you’re not going to use this app now, I suggest that you download it and reserve your business name before someone else grabs it up. You will be glad you did if you later decide to start using Snapchat.)
Next, go to the main screen and tap on the ghost icon at the top. The app will then ask you to take four quick photos that will loop over and over—these photos will serve as your profile image. It will also ask you a series of set-up questions. For example, to help you find friends to follow, it will request access to the contacts list on your mobile device. It will also ask for permission to use your device’s camera and to use your location so that it can provide you with certain filters. If you allow Snapchat to access your contacts list, it will quickly generate a list of your friends and acquaintances who are already using the app. You can then follow those friends—and, hopefully, they’ll follow you—and start building your Snapchat presence.
To create your first “snap,” press the circle near the bottom of your screen. Press it once to snap a still photo or hold it down to shoot video (up to 10 seconds).
After you take a picture or video, the app will prompt you to either send the file to anyone who follows you individually or “add it to your story.”
Putting Your Snapcode to Work for You
Use this Snapcode to start following fast-casual pizza chain Blaze Pizza on Snapchat.
Attracting followers and finding people to follow can be a little tricky, as there is currently no search feature on Snapchat. That’s where Snapcodes come in. Every Snapchat user has a Snapcode—it’s unique, like a fingerprint, and can be printed out in scannable, high-resolution format as a .png file. You’ll want to log into your account at snapchat.com and download your Snapcode and start using it in creative ways. Another Snapchatter can then add you by opening the app on his device, pointing its camera at your Snapcode and tapping on the device’s screen. Now you’ve scored your first follower.
So how can you help Snapchatters find your Snapcode? Here are some ideas:
- Place your Snapchat code all around your restaurant—on table tents, menus and signage at the front counter, in your lobby, or in the bathroom—anywhere that people tend to stand or sit around and stare at their phones. (I know the bathroom seems pretty weird, but you’d probably be surprised by bathroom phone habits!)
- Post your Snapcode to all of your other social media channels. Upload the image to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Yelp, to name a few possibilities.
- Add your Snapcode to your email signature or as a P.S. to all of your emails. Example: “Add me on Snapchat at www.snapchat.com/add/yourpizzeria.”
- Print the Snapcode on your pizza boxes along with your pizzeria’s logo. This can be a little pricey, but I guarantee this will make your pizzeria stand out as one of a kind in your area. Not too many other pizzerias will try this approach.
- If you don’t want to print the Snapcode on your boxes, simply add it to your box toppers.
- Print your Snapcode on your employee uniforms, T-shirts and hats. (It’s probably best to place the code on the sleeve. I would recommend against printing it on the front or back of the shirt as that could lead to some uncomfortable situations when the customer goes to scan the code with his phone.)
- Team up with other local businesses that use Snapchat. Tell them you’ll share their Snapcode if they’ll do the same for you.
6 Marketing ideas
Pizza Hut has been snapping away for a while on Snapchat and even snapped live from the premiere of Captain America: Civil War last spring. Point your app’s camera at this Snapcode and press on the screen to start following the pizza giant.
So once you’re on Snapchat, what kind of information should you share? In my opinion, pizzeria owners should use Snapchat to show behind-the-scenes action in your pizzeria. It’s a great way to share content you would not be able to share on other networks, and it also allows you to get a little creative. Snapchat even has some great facial recognition features which would have seemed like science fiction just 10 years ago! Here are some examples of content to get you started:
- Ask your customers to send you some creative snaps (rated PG, of course) and award free pizza to the most creative one.
- Use photos and videos to show what life is like behind the scenes at your pizzeria—sort of a “day-in-the-life” series. Show employees making dough in the morning, prepping for the dinner rush and closing shop at the end of the business day, including hitting the lights and saying good night.
- Ask your delivery drivers to take snaps and post them while they’re delivering pies around town.
- Attend a local high school sports event and post
- real-time updates of the score for those customers who couldn’t make it to the game.
- Use Snapchat snaps to review other businesses in your community in a fun, positive way. Give your fellow business owners some positive word-of-mouth, and ask them to do the same for you.
- Partner with local businesses on a Snapchat takeover—they take over your Snapchat for one day and you take over theirs.
Snapchat offers so many marketing opportunities for pizzeria owners. Just let your hair down and let the creative juices flow. The more you work with Snapchat, the better you will understand how to use it correctly, and you will be unstoppable!
Five Key Tools for Snapchat Newbies
Snapchat offers a number of tools and features that are unique to social media, but they’re not easy to find. It’s up to the user to sniff them out—or, in many cases, to stumble upon them by accident—so it will take some time to master this unusual app. Stick with it, though, and you will find it highly rewarding, especially as a tool for marketing your pizzeria. Some of Snapchat’s more interesting features include:
On-demand geofilters: Pizzeria owners can create their own geofilters—image overlays (PNG files only) that allow Snapchat users to share where they are, what they’re doing—and what they’re eating. Customers can only access your geofilter at your restaurant, and the geofilter must first be approved by Snapchat. For as little as $5, you can create custom geofilters for special deals, grand openings, promotions and on-premise events.
Editing tools: Snapchat lets you draw with your finger on top of an image, add captions to each snap and place large animated images—“stickers” in the Snapchat vernacular—on your own images.
Downloadable snaps: You can download your Snapchat snaps and save them permanently on other social media channels, such as Twitter and Instagram, and use them to promote your Snapchat presence.
QR code reader: Sure, QR codes never caught on before, but they could make a comeback now because the Snapchat app reads the codes easily. You can use QR codes to send Snapchat users to contest landing pages, coupons, e-newsletter sign-ups, and other strategic destinations.