Businesses today have more options to reach target markets than ever before, thanks to online social media platforms. But this wide variety of ways to communicate with people have their own benefits and challenges so choosing the right platforms that your business can get the most value from is important. One of these platforms that food truck entrepreneurs should consider and take advantage of is Snapchat, a video messaging app that features a unique way to interact with customers.
The core functionality of Snapchat involves “Snaps,” photo and video messages that can be manipulated using filters, effects, text captions, and drawings. What sets it apart from online platforms like Facebook and Twitter is the time limit that can be set by users on how long their messages can be viewed by recipients. Snaps can be viewed for up to 10 seconds and then automatically disappear from the screen.
Some may view the short form and life of Snaps as too limiting for businesses to use for marketing. Some even consider the app as one of the most challenging platforms to master. But the unique experience that Snapchat provides is to offer food trucks a way to differentiate the business and even encourage consumer loyalty… the challenge might be worth it.
So, how can you use Snapchat for your food truck business?
By embracing the time limit of Snaps, many businesses are already using the messaging app to market their products and services. One great use of Snapchat for food trucks is through teasers for upcoming products or services that make users wanting more. Many users of the app are encouraged to be creative and also be concise due to the time limit, ensuring that the message is communicated to viewers without too much fluff.
Another way to take advantage of Snapchat is being candid. Food trucks can achieve this by letting their audience take a peek inside the inner workings of their operation. People love behind-the-scenes content… just look at the plethora of “reality” shows on air today. But sharing what goes on inside the business is not just about entertainment; it also serves as a way to influence people’s perception of your company. By showing the food truck’s “personality” using content that is casual and relatable increases its impact to viewers and can attract more potential leads.
Some businesses are also using Snaps and Stories (a sequential compilation of Snaps where each Snap disappear after 24 hours) to launch promotions, contests, or giveaways. Though Stories can “extend” the life of a Snap, it is best to still limit the length of Stories. Best Story length is around one to two minutes.
Viewers can be encouraged to view an entire Story by putting in promo codes or increase engagement of food truck customers with Snapchat scavenger hunts. Utilizing the time limit for exclusive content created and shared in Snapchat can also let your followers feel special and strengthen customer loyalty.
Food trucks that cater on events can take advantage of Snapchat’s Live Stories feature: a curated stream of Snaps submitted by users who are in the same event or specific location. By contributing to a Live Story, your Snap has potential to be published and viewed by anyone which can increase exposure for your business. For similar events, up to eight times more 18 to 34 year olds view Live Stories compared to television.
Though, be aware that getting your Snap picked for a Live Story of an event can be competitive. According to a TIME.com article, a Live Story is curated by a team that sifts through more or less 20,000 Snaps and only choose 50 to 60. Fortunately, Ben Schwerin, Snapchat’s director of partnerships for Live Stories, gave this advice so you can increase your Snaps chances of getting picked, “We like to see snaps that are fun, snaps that show unique perspective on that event.”
According to Snapchat, “By default, Snaps disappear from the screen once they are viewed – unless your friend decides to keep it, such as with a screenshot or separate camera.”
Some people feel that this is a negative but just because your content did not self-destruct as expected does not mean your food truck is doomed. By creating content that cannot be put out of context, screenshots can be used as a positive indicator.
Snapchat notifies users when the content they shared is captured by screenshot. Some businesses incorporated this feature into their promotions (encouraging people to take a screenshot of a code in a video to redeem a free product) and use the number of screenshots taken as a metric of engagement or impact. A study suggested that Snapchat’s success is based not on security features but because users find the app fun (Franziska Roesner, Brian T Gill, and Tadayoshi Kohno, Financial Crypto 2014).
At the moment, there are 100 million active daily users of Snapchat. More than 5 billion video views are done in the app every day. In the US, more than 60% of 13 to 34 year olds that owns a smartphone use Snapchat and love it because of the unique perspective, real-time Story updates, and authentic expression the app provides. Vertical video viewing is growing from 5% in 2010 to 29% in 2015 and vertical viewing ads like Snapchat’s are watched in full nine times more than landscape ads.
Though some find Snapchat harder to master compared to other online social media platforms for use in marketing, the app has a lot of potential for food truck businesses that can effectively utilize it. It can provide unique insights, genuine interaction with followers, and showcase your business’ personality that can strengthen its brand. At a time when trusting online social media personas can be dangerous, Snapchat can help introduce your food truck’s true identity and turn mere viewers to loyal customers.