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How to Leverage Snapchat to Drive Installs

For a teenage audience, Snapchat is one of the most powerful and underappreciated channels used to drive app installs.

The platform has huge marketing potential for apps, which goes largely untapped.

In February, Snapchat reported that it has a captive audience of over 187,000,000 daily active users, mostly aged between 13 and 25. Many of this elusive Generation Z audience cannot be reached using other social media sites. In the UK, for example, 41% of Snapchat’s users cannot be reached using Instagram – another Gen Z favorite – according to market intelligence company, App Annie.

So, why do relatively few app marketers take the leap with Snapchat? Here, I discuss some of the potential reasons for trepidation, and how to combat them by adopting a number of best practices which we have tried tested in our Snapchat-first advertising company, Fanbytes.

Why certain app marketers are reticent about trying Snapchat

In terms of social media marketing, especially to Generation Z, the leader in the field is Instagram.

The Facebook-owned behemoth not only benefits from Facebook’s hyper-targeted programmatic advertising platform. But it has also become one of the go-to sites (along with YouTube) for influencer marketing in almost every vertical – including mobile apps.

This status is justified, and there are several reasons that marketers might feel more comfortable using Instagram over Snapchat.

Among them, the larger user base, the broader demographic are the main reasons. Also, the fact that it is easier both when it comes to programmatic and when it comes to finding influencers, checking out their content, and posting pre-prepared content.

The problem with Instagram

The problem with any platform that achieves go-to status among marketers is that the competition is huge. This drives up prices and makes it much more difficult to stand out in an already-crowded marketplace.

Snapchat, by contrast, has a large audience without an equally large body of app marketers vying for this audience’s attention.

It is, therefore, less affected by competition, and – perhaps more critically – it holds sway over an audience practically impossible to reach by any other means.

So, if you are looking to drive installs by targeting 13-25-year-olds in Snapchat’s heartlands, such as North America, the UK, Europe, and Australia, you should seriously consider adding the platform to your advertising arsenal.

Should I use Snapchat’s own advertising platform or another solution?

Snapchat offers its own programmatic advertising platform, modeled closely on Facebook’s.

This is the only way to use Snapchat to reach a high proportion of the millions of people using the app. If you’re looking for high volume reach – it’s difficult to achieve this in any other way.

The other advantage of using Snapchat’s programmatic solution is targeting. This is the only way to get highly specific, location-based targeting on the platform. If you need targeting which is more granular than country-by-country, then this is your best bet.

However, there are also significant flaws with Snapchat’s own solution.

For example, Facebook has access to huge amounts of data to determine an audience’s interests. However, Snapchat relies much more heavily on guesswork based, predominantly, on the kinds of sponsored content users are interacting with.

This leads to two major problems. Firstly, any interest-based targeting risks being highly imprecise. Secondly, audience insights gained from your campaigns can be pretty misleading.

For those that want to hone in on the right kind of audience, and aren’t too concerned about granular geographic targeting, there are much better solutions available.

Influencer marketing on Snapchat

The main alternative is to use influencers to promote your content on Snapchat.

By contacting influencers whose content broadly aligns with your app, and who have a large following on Snapchat, you can reach your desired audience in a far more organic, engaging way than is possible using Snapchat’s programmatic advertising platform.

On Snapchat, there are two main types of channels which will promote your content:

  • Influencer channels;
  • Media channels.

The content shown on influencer channels predominantly consists of the influencer themselves. Whereas content on media channels is predominantly memes, images, and videos – curated by the channel owner, but not necessarily showing videos of them.

And some channels are hybrid, interspersing meme-heavy, media-style content with influencer-style content.

Influencer channels tend to get better engagement, but media channels often have larger followings. They may also be more willing to post ad content regularly because they are likely to be posting a much higher volume of content.

Using media channels will likely mean your content lacks a human face, but such channels are often cheaper, with a higher reach and – in our experience – lower CPIs.

Another important trend to note is that, as the size of an influencer’s following increases, their engagement generally decreases. To minimize CPI, you should be wary of finding the right balance between volume and engagement.

Finding Snapchat influencers

This is one of the biggest obstacles preventing people from using Snapchat for influencer campaigns.

Snapchat provides no native way of searching through its user base. Coupled with the fact that users’ content disappears after 24 hours – it can be daunting to seek out the best and more engaged influencers.

Many Instagram influencers are also influencers on Snapchat. So one of the most effective ways of reaching out to influencers is by searching through people and approaching them on Instagram.

If you’re already working with influencers on Instagram, make sure you ask them all if they also have a following on Snapchat. That can be one of the quickest ways to get a decent roster of Snapchat influencers.

Otherwise, trawling databases and forums on the web is the mainstay for finding influencers, and this is why Snapchat-first solutions like Fanbytes are so valuable.

We have compiled a network of hundreds of carefully-selected influencers, with a combined reach of over 30,000,000 on Snapchat alone.

Our system algorithmically selects influencers for our campaigns, choosing only those with the highest engagement, and the best track-record in each app’s specific vertical.

What about the creative?

Once you have a distribution channel in mind, you need to optimize creative content precisely for the audience, the subject matter, and the method (programmatic or influencer).

There are certain rules which apply to Snapchat’s own advertising platform, but which you don’t (and often shouldn’t) heed when creating advertising content for influencers.

So, for example, Snapchat’s own platform prohibits the use of the phrase “swipe up”, and the use of carets or arrows to encourage people to swipe up. This is because Snapchat controls these elements themselves.

By contrast, the success of influencer adverts often depends on having a strong call to action.

You should use phrases such as “swipe up”, “install now”, “play now”, and so on – as well as any strong visual cues such as arrows. Including them is likely to have a big impact on the click-through rate.

You don’t need to worry about identifying your ads as ads when using Snapchat’s advertising platform. But, strictly speaking, you should include some kind of ad text when you give advertising content to influencers.

Creative tips

There are limitless possibilities when it comes to the actual content of any creative. But I’ll now share two tips which have proven particularly successful for us at Fanbytes, and which perhaps contradicts some traditional assumptions about advertising to Generation Z.

Note that these tips refer to any film or motion graphics-style content that we would give to influencers, rather than content which influencers would create themselves.

First, it is a mistake to focus on the visual (and sonic) quality of an advert, at the expense of hitting the right tone with the audience.

We have found that content which feels organic – despite some unprofessional elements – performs far better than content which looks and sounds good, but which fails to seem authentic to the audience.

Second, the fear that some marketers have of using wordy adverts when targeting Gen Z is not justified by our experience: many of our top-performing ads feature a lot of text.

The text must be readable and interspersed with images. But it helps to set the tone for the ad, by adopting language that makes our audience feel like the ad was made by someone who understands them, rather than a faceless, out-of-touch advertising executive.

Final word

Once you understand how to arrange your distribution channel, and optimize your creative content, Snapchat can be an incredibly powerful tool to drive app installs.

I head up the campaigns department at Fanbytes, and we have seen CPIs as low $0.36 USD and driven as much as 330,000 installs (and counting) for some of our longer-term clients, such as the gaming app Plato.

We have also helped new apps, such as the comedy app Laughs, gain their first 50,000 users. This resulted in them securing a crucial round of funding as they seek to expand towards their next milestone.

The key to these success stories is an app which appeals strongly to a Gen Z audience, combined with the ability to refine both creatives and distribution to optimize results.

Bret Cameron

Head of Marketing

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