The age of Snapchatting has arrived, friends. Snapchat is fun, fast, and offers two of my favorite features: brevity and stickers. I hear a lot of my peers complain about how it makes no sense, and how silly it can seem to use this social platform originally favored by millennials.
I disagree. There’s some really smart ways to engage with my readers on Snapchat, which is currently my favorite social media tool for engagement.
Nieman Lab pointed out in a post last year that relevance and visibility is tough for publishers because of so many platforms on which they need to exist. “This is a winning combination; a distinguishable brand across multiple platforms that speaks directly to a desirable, niche audience will create meaningful exposure to new audiences as well as a pathway for more engaged and loyal readers.”
Now, before you begin your complaint about exhaustion, let me put a finger to your lips. Chill. I have stressed to many authors before that their individual brand relevance determines the number of social platforms they will need to maintain. In other words, you don’t have to be on every single platform. If you have taken the time to understand your audience, and quantify that audience using analytics of some kind, you will logically toss away a few social platforms in order to focus on where your readers thrive. Work smarter, not harder.
For example, if you write paranormal romance novels, and your readership is made of female readers between the ages of 25-45, you can already start deciding on some platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram, over others. Better yet, if you have ever surveyed your readers, asked them questions about what sites they use or investigated some of their habits causally, you can make that list of sites even more specific. In some cases, that data may lead you to Snapchat.
Snapchat matters right now because people (especially users older than the original Millennial first adopters) are starting to adopt it. Statista published projections of Snapchat user penetration for the US from 2012 to 2020, and it’s clear to see that it’s likely to stay very relevant.
So, if you have determined that your readers are using Snapchat, then it’s time to use it. In my case, I have a lot of anecdotal data to show that many of my readers who connect with me on Twitter and Facebook are also on Snapchat. I have also learned that part of my following includes males who are early adopters of technology; during the years I was social editor at Ars Technica, I think a few of those readers came along for the ride with my novels.
A Wonderful Case Study
A great example is wonderbruno. He’s one of my most engaged readers. We met during his trip to NYC in 2014. He lives in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and he’s an avid reader of gay romance, paranormal, sci fi and fantasy. He’s also very funny on camera, and he has an amazing collection of Wonder Woman paraphernalia. Bruno is exactly the kind of reader that I need to engage in Snapchat.
Bruno often sends DMs on my Snaps to interact back with me, and I have learned more about his reading tastes through his Snaps than his Instagram. He has given me valuable feedback about my books in DM, as well, and that kind of interaction is gold for any author. I also get a very honest window into Bruno's life in Sao Paolo. He's one of many readers who really connect in a deeper way with me thanks to this platform.
Putting it all together
Here’s my strategy in using Snapchat with my readers:
Leverage the levity and ephemeral nature of the medium: Quick snapshot of city scenes, interesting graffiti and people watching lets my readers know that I don’t sit at home all day and that my gaze catches many odd things in the street.
I publish posts about progress in my books, such as word counts. This keeps me accountable, and you would be surprised how many readers love seeing the daily word counts whenever I post them.
I Snapchat at live events, particularly book readings and lit events. I use the geofilters and also post to the story for my city to also make contributions to local Snapchats.
I post snaps of my sketches for landscapes and creatures from my books. Because the images vanish so quickly, they provide some intrigue for my readers, and it’s precisely these sketches that spark the most interactions for me.
Run promotions for free books, discount codes and Snapchat exclusives. This is a great tactic, but please be sure you have enough of a following on Snapchat if you will invest the time in this. And by enough, I don’t mean thousands of followers. Just make sure that the readers who follow you on Snapchat are likely to engage with promotions, sales and coupons. Nothing worse than people feeling like they are being spammed.
Like with any new platform, you should feel free to experiment, and please, please, write down you results and milestones. Don’t just Snapchat without rhyme or reason. Keep your Snaps relevant and also honest, and you’ll have a lot of fun. Be sure to view your analytics for your posts (you can tap your snap history to see who’s viewed your snaps). And if by adopting Snapchat you have to retire another social platform to protect your valuable time, be ready to do so.
Got questions? Leave a comment or send me a tweet at @13Secretcities.
You can follow me on Snapchat at the user name killsuperhero. See you on the other side.