Get All Access for $5/mo

7 Unofficial Rules of Snapchat All Marketers Need to Follow Want to start using Snapchat to market your business or brand? Careful!

By Sujan Patel Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Dean Drobot /

If you're running a business in 2016, think about Snapchat as a channel to grow your customer base and engagement. The biggest deal about Snapchat, Gary Vaynerchuk said during CES in Vegas, is that "It's made up of real personal moments."

Related: Why Your Company Needs To Be On Snapchat Right Now

Between brands and end-users, more than 9,000 snaps are taking place every second. But that doesn't mean you should approach Snapchat the way you would any other social platform. Instead, it requires a special strategy all its own.

Here are some unofficial rules to keep in mind when using Snapchat for marketing.

1. Be mindful of what you snap.

Brands still don't get it, and I still see social fails popping up from things that would be better left unsaid. On other social platforms at least, you can delete posts. But even that never stopped viewers from a forever-incriminating screen capture.

On Snapchat, users know full well that content disappears quickly after viewing, so they're even more prone to make a screenshot of what they see.

Think about what you're sharing, then: the environment you're in and the context in which your snap might come across when your audience views it. It's not easy to do sometimes when you're trying to market "in the moment" -- but it's better to be safe than sorry.

2. Don't over-snap.

Not everything you or your company does needs to be recorded with a snap. And not everything needs to be shared out to your audience through your Story. I know you want your followers to see it, but it doesn't take long for your Snap Story to turn into minutes-long streams of pictures and more. For Snapchat, that's getting excessive.

So, instead, add the best of your content to your Story -- not everything.

Remember: You can save your snaps to your device. If you want something to last longer, or you want to get it out to your followers, you can always post it to a different channel.

Related: Snapchat Sees 6 Billion Video Views Every Day. But What Does This Figure Actually Mean?

3. If it's really important, don't Snapchat.

Snapchat might be one of the better ways to engage with your audience, but in some cases, it's not the ideal way to keep in touch.

When you're dealing with announcements and sharing important information, stick with the channels that will help that message spread, and where there's permanency to the content.

Snaps are short-lived, so you can't rely on the Snapchat medium for getting vital information out to your followers.

On the other hand, if you want to tease new releases and limit the exposure of something coming soon, then Snapchat is where it's at.

4. Don't just regurgitate content

Don't use your Snapchat as just another channel to share the same stuff you're putting out everywhere else. Many brands are using Snapchat because of the authenticity it offers. You should be using it to strengthen community ties by publishing content that shows a different side of your brand.

Music producer DJ Khaled is a great example. Khaled created an engaging Snapchat community with over two million followers. With his 24-hour Snapchat Stories, he shares daily insights he calls "keys to success," based around commentary on his life adventures.

I personally use Snapchat in much the same way. I speak one-on-one with over 100 people almost daily, in addition to sharing marketing tips, advice and interesting moments from my travels. That personal engagement is the key to the successes I have.

Above all else, make yours an incredible story. That exclusive content creates a sense of trust and inclusivity.

5. Time your snaps appropriately.

When you take a snap, the application defaults to ten seconds -- the length of the snap it's viewed by your fans before it's gone.

Ten seconds may not seem like much, but it can feel like an eternity when someone has to stare at an image.

Instead of sticking with the default, customize your Snapchat settings to reduce the time that images stay alive. A two-second image is a waste of time because it doesn't give your followers enough time to absorb it. Find a happy medium.

6. Pay attention.

I encourage experimentation to see what works with your fans with Snapchat content. That doesn't mean you should run off and go crazy with your Snapchat. As former Hootsuite marketer Evan LePage wrote, "Succeeding on a new social network is often about experimenting, seeing what resonates and what misses the mark."

In short, marketers should remind themselves of the importance of listening:

  • Pay attention to what your audience is digesting from other people in your industry.

  • Pay attention to what your audience members enjoy and what they're talking about.

  • Pay attention to trends and updates with Snapchat.

7. Go silent.

Did you know you can kill the sound in your Snapchat vids? If you're sharing videos on Snapchat, pay attention to whether or not the sound in your video could be a distraction. Special events and concerts may have music that doesn't translate due to poor quality background noise.

Related: Snapchat Turns Collision Conference Attendees Into Small-Business Heroes on National Superhero Day

The same can be said for a windy day. Here, the ears of your fans will thank you if you kill the audio. You should also think about how you can use an absence of audio to share a creative "silent video" for your brand that tells a story another way.

Sujan Patel

Entrepreneur and Marketer, Co-founder of Web Profits

In his 14-plus years as a marketer and entrepreneur, Sujan Patel has helped hundreds of companies boost online traffic and sales and strengthen their online brand reputation. Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits and Mailshake.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick


How to Close the Trust Gap Between You and Your Team — 5 Strategies for Leaders

Trust is tanking in your workplace. Here's how to fix it and become the boss your team needs to succeed.

Health & Wellness

Get a Year of Unlimited Yoga Class Downloads for Only $23 Through June 17

Regular exercise has been proven to increase energy and focus, both of which are valuable to entrepreneurs and well-known benefits of yoga.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.

Business News

'Passing By Wide Margins': Elon Musk Celebrates His 'Guaranteed Win' of the Highest Pay Package in U.S. Corporate History

Musk's Tesla pay package is almost 140 times higher than the annual pay of other high-performing CEOs.

Starting a Business

I Left the Corporate World to Start a Chicken Coop Business — Here Are 3 Valuable Lessons I Learned Along the Way

Board meetings were traded for barnyards as a thriving new venture hatched.

Business Culture

Why Remote Work Policies Are Good For the Environment

Remote work policies are crucial for ESG guidelines. Embracing remote work can positively impact your business and employees.