When Snapchat first came onto the scene, it was difficult to imagine that it would ever become a marketing tool. With it initially being the app of choice to send a quick selfie to friends, it didn’t seem likely to take on a more useful or serious purpose.

The creators of the app famously refused to sell to Facebook for $3bn at the end of 2013 and although it doesn’t have any revenue, it’s got the tech world talking. Over recent months, some of the world’s biggest brands have been using the photo messaging tool to expand their reach.

Which Big Brands Are Using Snapchat & What Are They Doing?
Teen fashion retailer Wet Seal recently enlisted the help of 16 year old Meghan Hughes to grow their Snapchat following. Meghan has an impressive digital following, so partnering with an influencer was a wise move for Wet Seal.

Meghan used a ‘story’ to upload photos of herself going about her day wearing Wet Seal apparel, the week before Christmas. The feature on the app allows users to upload photos which are visible for 24 hours, instead of the usual 10 seconds. The takeover saw a lot of interaction with fans of the brand as well as Meghan herself.

There are no statistics on how many of their 6000 video views converted to sales, but maybe that isn’t always the most important objective behind using it. For example take HBO’s Girls with their imminent third season, they joined Snapchat and their account is now one of the most followed on the app.

Girls are in tune with their audience, where they are and how they communicate. Lindsay Pearl, director of digital and social media for HBO’s most important piece of advice is to ‘think like a fan.’

None of the images sent by the Girls account are glossy or edited, like you would expect to find on other platforms such as Instagram. Followers of the account have been treated to snaps from the red carpet and even exclusive snippets of the show’s soundtrack.

Similarly, staff here at Ricemedia have seen brand interaction via Snapchat. Fashion brand New Look ran a post-Oscars competition with a £50 gift card up for grabs for the best Ellen Degeneres style selfie with friends.

McDonald’s is one of the biggest brands to jump on the Snapchat wagon. Their Snapchat efforts began on Twitter, enticing their followers with the promise of a ‘tasty surprise.’ Following this, they began adding to their Snapchat Story with behind-the-scenes snaps from their upcoming commercial.

Then came the big bait, McDonald’s introduced their Snapchat friends to the brand new Bacon Clubhouse, along with its launch date. The last snap on their Snapchat Story brought them full circle, with a request to follow them on Twitter.

16 Handles, a US-based frozen yoghurt company used the app in a more engaging way; they asked fans to send a snap of themselves at one of their locations. In return, fans were treated to a promotional coupon via Snapchat, with 16%, 50% and even up to 100% off. An excellent idea, we think, to promote16 Handles and create a buzz.

Are There Benefits To Brands Using Snapchat?
Unlike platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat’s content doesn’t need to be frequently updated.

Its appeal is increasing, as more big brands jump on board and incorporate Snapchat into marketing efforts. As of December 2013, Snapchat had 30 million users. Great brands are always welcoming new ways to connect with their audience and this is one of the most personal to date. We’re really excited to see what the app can achieve next!