It’s Not Just Dick Pics + Tweens: How to Make Snapchat Profitable for Your Brand

It’s Not Just Dick Pics + Tweens: How to Make Snapchat Profitable for Your Brand

Hi, my name is Crystal and I am a Snapchat addict.

It’s been a long road, one that involved many unflattering angles that only my best friends were fortunate (some would say blessed) enough to see, too many accidental snaps (sorry famous YouTuber that accidentally got a snap of my cat that one time), and a whole new army of friends and followers.

Bonus! Download the guide to using Snapchat for your brand now!

But wait - no dick pics? Nope. Not one. And before you make any assumptions, I am a proud member of the single’s club and owner of a profile on Tinder - I am the usual target for dick pics on Snapchat. So why haven’t I been the recipient of ANY R-rated content on this wildly popular social media platform?

It’s got nothing to do with availability of the subject matter and everything to do with this: Snapchat has grown up. It has snagged its adult card. It is adulting. And with over 100 million active daily users and a valuation of $16 billion, we’d say it’s doing a damn good job.

The Evolution of the Snap

To truly understand how far we’ve come (and my own personal addiction) it’s important that I share some insight as to how I became addicted to Snapchat. Because unlike many social media platforms before it, Instagram or Tumblr for example, it wasn’t an overnight addiction for me.

My first encounter with Snapchat happened in the bathroom of my favorite bookstore where I walked in on two tweens deep in conversation. One was on the toilet, the other sitting on the counter, texting away. Tween #1 in the stall, immediately squeals “Oh my God - Becky JUST snapchatted me.” To which Tween #2 replies “Oh my God! Snap her back!” Tween #1 giggles, I hear the camera shutter sound from an iPhone, followed by her announcing her clever caption “Swaggin on the toilet.”

You see folks, yes - once upon a time, Snapchat was at its core a sexting app. It was one that allowed tweens to send photos of themselves swagging on toilets. So, what happened?

Here’s a look at how Snapchat evolved.

The First Wave: This Snap Will Self-Destruct

Sexters and Swaggers. These were the early adopters of Snapchat, but it didn’t take long for a new wave of Snappers to enter the market once sending nude pics got old. For the same reasons the sexters love the self-destruct features of Snapchat, so do people who just want to send their best friend a super unflattering photo of themselves. This is when I hit download and jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon. It was a fun new way to interact with my friends, send ridiculous photos on the fly, but I was by no means addicted. And the brands? It still wasn’t their come hither moment yet.

The Second Wave: From Swagging to Vloggers & Bloggers

Enter the vloggers. For those new to the term, these are bloggers who use video to share their lives with the internet on YouTube, in addition to their blog. Notable vloggers include Grace Helbig and Jenna Marbles. Thanks to Snapchat’s “Story” feature (users can add pictures to a running story, each picture remaining in the series for only 24 hours but viewable as many times as the viewer wants) vloggers were all hopping onboard. After all, it was an easy and quick way to broadcast their lives to their fans. This is also where I developed a serious dependency when it came to the app.

Soon, bloggers, influencers, and even entrepreneurs were harnessing the power of Snapchat to not only share irrelevant (but awesome) parts of their day (myself included) - they were using it to promote new posts, videos, content, and more. And despite no real analytics to prove it (arguably one of Snapchat’s downfalls) -- it was working.


The Third Wave: Here Come the Brands

By the time I began surfing the second Snapchat wave, the brands were waxing their boards and getting in on the fun. Snapchat added the Discover feature, which allowed brands such as Buzzfeed, Mashable, and Cosmopolitan to offer up fresh content on the daily to users. And why not? Advertising and PR is expensive. WE get it, trust me.

Snapchat is FREE. Sure, the bigger brands are paying for Discovery placement and partnerships, but there’s a hella bunch of brands out there making a huge splash on the platform without spending a dime. Just by being themselves.

Snapchat and Your Brand’s Gratuitous Selfie

So, how can you and your brand become one with the snappers? It’s not as hard as you may think.

Step One: Be Authentic.

Even the most put together, beautiful bloggers have Snapchatted without makeup. They have snapped the most unhealthiest meals. Why? Because there is something to be said about being real; being human. Regardless of your brand and whether you normally eat kale, it’s important to show your fans your true colors. If you’re having a bad day at the office, or if things at your headquarters aren’t exactly going as planned — consider snapping something in light of it all. Being honest with your customers and showing the ups and downs of entrepreneurship is NOT a bad thing.

Step Two: Offer Really Great Content.

It was a no brainer that one of the first brands to jump on Snapchat’s Discover platform was Cosmopolitan. After all, they’ve been serving women with A+ content since 1965. Also not shocking? Mashable and Buzzfeed, websites that are known for providing digestible, entertaining content and news, daily. Identify what your best content on your blog is and start by offering it up in bite-sized snaps. Have a wicked product? Show your followers a look at the creative behind it, show them your warehouse, the shipping process, or give them a sneak peek of your new lines. Lastly, give your followers a real glimpse at your company culture by giving them an insider’s look at company outings, office celebrations and even your team stand-up.

Bonus: Offer contests to your snappers! The folks at East Coast Lifestyle do this really well, by offering giveaways AND promo codes via their Snaps.

Step Three: Promote. Promote. Promote.

If you snap a tree falling in the forest but don’t have cell service - will anyone know it fell? Ok, that was kind of lame, but hear me out. The trick to getting your fans following your daily adventures on Snapchat is to make sure they KNOW you’re on Snapchat. Add it to your CTAs on the blog; include it in your email signature. On Instagram or Twitter? Add it to your bio or create a Snapchat avatar.

Need some inspiration? We love what Huffington Post and Elite Daily have done with their avatars since joining Snapchat. Notice how the HuffPo has their Snapchat handle as their Pinned Tweet for even more exposure.


Step Four: Cater to Everyone.

While millennials make up the largest percentage of snappers, coming in at 71% of users between the ages of 18 and 34, there are people of all ages who are adopting the app. From dick pics to homes for sale, even real estate agents are using Snapchat to reach younger buyers by walking them through open houses. Meanwhile, your favorite fast-food empire, Taco Bell, has a dedicated Taco Bell Snapchat team to bring fresh and juicy content to fans on the platform. Still not convinced? General Electric joined the Snapchat scene in July 2014 and brought astronaut Buzz Aldrin on board to mark the 45th anniversary of GE’s contribution to the moon landing.

The point? Cater to everyone. The sky (or should I say the moon?) is the limit.

Step Five: Keep it PG.

Lastly, let’s not forget the fact that despite Snapchat’s growth as a social media platform, many still do associate it with its origins and these origins were anything but PG. While it’s tempting to get too comfortable sharing your everyday life, don’t ever cross a line. Remember: you are a brand, a business, and influencer first and foremost. The goal is to engage and to entertain, not to offend or humiliate yourself. Fast fingers can lead to the easiest slips, so if you’re using your account for business and pleasure, ensure that you’re not sharing something meant for your best pal or significant other with your entire follower list. The occasional cuss word is forgivable; the occasional offensive snap, not so much.

Snap Into the Future

So what’s next for Snapchat? With paid features launching and even more sponsored events, it’s safe to assume Snapchat is here to stay. When it comes to Snapchat and your brand, the key is to stay creative, strategic and reactive. It’s a timely app, so always be snap ready to get those perfect moments on camera.  

Remember, Snapchat is adulting now and dick pics are just so passe. Treat this storytelling platform like a vessel, and share your brand’s story, its personality, and its charm with the world.

And as FastCompany put it, you’re only as good as your last Snap. So make it a good one.

What do you think?


This is a very informative article thanks Crystal. What do you think the main reason Snapchat went viral ?

Thanks for the comment Monty! I think that a lot of it had to do with the fact that the founders allowed it to grow beyond what they originally thought it would be. So often, startups launch with their eyes on one audience and one purpose, but they quickly realize people are viewing their product as something else or more. The key is to not be afraid to acknowledge this and let your product evolve into what it was truly meant to be and then of course cater to it! With the addition of the Story feature and Discovery – it became so much more than just snaps intended to disapear!

I never thought Snapchat can be this effective for a brand. All I know is that, it can be used for personal use only. Yes, I agree that Snapchat has millions of users these days and with this number of followers, it’s not impossible to find your target audience. Thanks for sharing your experience and thought about Snapchat. It can help a lot of entrepreneurs including me.