snapchat ecommerce

True to its ghost mascot, Snapchat is the most elusive of the social media outlets. To traditional marketers, its transient setup and esoteric teenage customer-base can be hard to grasp. At first it seems to promise a direct connection to youth markets, but after a few failed marketing attempts it leaves a lot of us scratching our heads and feeling old.

But with some recent Snapchat updates aimed specifically at the ecommerce industry — no doubt related to their recent partnership with Amazon — online store owners and digital marketers now find themselves on more familiar ground.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of Snapchat’s new updates and using the platform for your ecommerce brand, we outline everything you need to know below: what kinds of companies and products do well on Snapchat, and how can it make online retailers money.


Is Snapchat Right for Your Company?

While there’s something to be said for putting your brand out there wherever possible, realistically, you have to budget your time, finances, and brainpower for only the places that suit your brand best. So who’s most likely to benefit from Snapchat?

For starters, if you’re targeting teens or early-20s customers, you can find them there. For two years and counting, Snapchat has been the leading social media outlet for US teens, the only demographic Facebook failed to win in 2018.

According to eMarketer, 16.4 million Americans between 12 and 17 use Snapchat, with 1.2 additional teenage users expected to join before 2022. By contrast, only 11.5 million Americans in that age group use Facebook (even less than Instagram’s 12.8 million). Facebook’s numbers are expected to drop further as well, losing 2.2 million by 2022.

A study from the Pews Research Center corroborates Snapchat’s dominance of the young adult market. They found that 78% of Americans aged 18 to 24 use Snapchat, and of these users about half (49%) use it multiple times per day.

So, for ecommerce brands looking to reach the teen and early-20s market, your audience is right there.

But you also have to take into account that Snapchat is a visual medium. It’s similar to Instagram in that users can post images or videos under 10 seconds, but Snapchat posts are automatically deleted within a short time. With this in mind, visual industries like fashion perform well.

But more important than visuals is attitude. The kind of brands that do well on Snapchat embrace the silliness and irreverence of the youths they’re trying to reach. Brands like Taco Bell and Mashable, known for their offbeat sense of humor, are both popular on Snapchat, as is the cheerful candy brand Sour Patch Kids.

That’s not to say “adult” brands can’t succeed. Acura showed its strength on Snapchat by offering exclusive video content to the first 100 people who signed up. Even though they offer a product most teens can’t even use, the company still understood how the platform worked enough to build a sizable following there.


How Snapchat Can Make Online Retailers Money

Building a powerful social media presence isn’t always easy… at least not as easy as just buying an ad. As of October 2018, Snapchat has released three new ad options just in time for the holidays:


Shoppable Collection Ads.

Snapchat has been testing their new interactive “Collection Ads” since June. These ads expand on what the traditional Snap Ads offer with two features worth noting:

  • Viewers can tap the product image of the ad for more details.
  • Collection Ads features multiple products instead of just one.

These more open-ended advertisements suit the platform’s casual browsing style and appeal to people’s desire for customization — if you don’t like the product in the ad, you have a few different options to choose from.

Collection Ads have been enjoying a warm reception so far. From the Snapchat press release, eBay’s Collection Ads saw a 5x higher engagement rate than standard ads for the same products.


Product Catalogs.

On the back-end, Snapchat is making advertisers’ lives a bit easier by overhauling their Ads Manager CMS. Advertisers are now able to upload their product data and assets — images, prices, color options, etc. — directly into Snapchat to streamline ad creation. This enables retailers to automate their Story Ads, Snap Ads, or the new Collection Ads.


Advanced Snap Pixel.

Snapchat has also upgraded their conversion-tracking tool Snap Pixel. Initially, Snap Pixel was only able to track which pages Snapchat referrals went to, but with the new update, it can now also track shopping behavior, such as filtering product categories.

Of course, you can still use Snapchat for engaging with customers and spreading brand awareness. Like other social media platforms, the same 5 guidelines for social commerce still hold up.

Just keep in mind the specific nuances of Snapchat, in particular that everything is temporary. This fits hand-in-hand with marketing campaigns that depend on urgency. One example that has success on Snapchat are limited-time coupon codes, which the site “expires” automatically for you.

Another example is exclusive content, such as sneak peaks of new products, or “behind the scenes” features. Because such videos are only available for a matter of hours, it adds incentive for your customer to follow you, so they don’t miss anything.



Because of its unique quirks and the always esoteric youth market, Snapchat has the steepest learning-curve of all the social media platforms. But as the prevalent platform for teenage customers, some companies won’t find a better advertising outlet.

Whether you’re building your entire marketing campaign around Snapchat or just using it to expand your business, it’s worth learning the ropes as a price of entry. Especially because of the new Collection Ads, advertising on Snapchat could be the long-lost solution to the problem of how to reach young markets. But even more, the platform’s peculiarities can also be its strength, as is the case for “limited time only” campaigns. To put it another way, even if you’re frustrated by Snapchat, don’t give up on the ghost.

Check out these 10 social media apps every ecommerce business needs to simplify social selling.

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