What Celebrities Get About Snapchat That Brands Don’t

Without visible follower counts, likes, or any other kind of public metrics, Snapchat provides an even playing field for all users. Celebrities aren’t given special treatment over us “regular folk.” As the New York Times explains, celebrity “posts are not presented in a newsfeed, and an algorithm does not prioritize their content and automatically feed it to users.”

This hasn’t stopped celebrities—like Kim Kardashian, The Weeknd, and Gwen Stefani—from flocking to the platform and using it to its full potential.

And they’re doing it better than most brands. Continue reading to discover how celebrities have unlocked Snapchat in ways your business can learn from.

Why celebrities are better at Snapchat than most brands

They keep it real

Snapchat’s informal style lets celebrities share their true selves. Musician Jay Sean says, “On Snapchat, I really know my fans. They don’t like anything too contrived or too staged.”

Echoing these statements, actor and comedian Kevin Hart says that Snapchat gives him a more genuine connection with his fans and is where he goes “to connect with them in a fun, natural way.”

The unedited and ephemeral nature of Snapchat is freeing for celebrities. As Vanity Fair explains, “they’re able to provide a connection that feels more real; something that, from the standpoint of the viewer at least, feels like a level of intimacy.”

To demonstrate authenticity and build relationships with your audience like a celebrity:

  • Own up to any mistakes (i.e. if one of your Snapchat videos has a spelling error in the text, poke fun at it in a following video).
  • Don’t try too hard to be cool if it doesn’t fit in with your brand voice or industry.
  • Have a sense of humor and be vulnerable. Throw that ego to the wind.
  • Be self-aware. Your followers know you’re a brand, so don’t try to convince them otherwise. As Entrepreneur says, “the only really genuine thing a brand can do is acknowledge the absurdity of trying to pass itself off as a person. Any attempt for a brand to take itself too seriously on social media is inherently disingenuous and will likely be ignored at best or scorned at worst.”

For more on establishing a genuine personality on social media, check out our post Keeping it Real: How to Build an Authentic Voice on Social.

They share the spotlight

Celebrities often use Snapchat to celebrate their fans and support staff.

Musician The Weeknd features his backstage crew and tour bus workers, sending them shout-outs and highlighting their hard work. He also makes a point to include and thank fans in his Snapchat Stories. He will even share his favorite Snaps from fans with the Memories feature.

DJ Khaled, the reigning “King of Snapchat,” uses this audience-first approach when he encounters fans in public and takes the time to thank them. He knows that recognizing the people who help contribute to his success is a way of showing he is “appreciative and humble—two adjectives that are closely tied to likability.”

Image via DJ Khaled’s Snapchat Story.

To make an audience-first approach work for your brand:

  • Share audience content through your Snapchat Stories (such as a video of user-generated content or audience-sent Snaps using Snapchat Memories)
  • Answer audience questions
  • Feature your customers and audience in your Snaps when possible (i.e. if you have clients visiting your offices or customers shopping at your stores)
  • Give shout-outs to your brand ambassadors and fans with a video Snap
  • Thank your followers on a regular basis—for example, if you reach 100,000 Instagram followers, you can share a Snapchat Story thanking your audience

They teach their audience useful skills

How-to videos are among the most popular searches on YouTube, with North Americans watching over 100 million hours of these in 2015. Celebrities know that audiences find this kind of content valuable and use Snapchat to share instructional videos of their own.

Model, TV personality, and author Chrissy Teigen has used Snapchat Stories to share step-by-step directions for recipes to promote her cookbook. Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell also knows the value of how-to content, and often shares steps for achieving her hair and makeup looks.

How-to videos are a great way to build awareness for your brand or product without being too sales-y. To share how-to content on Snapchat:

  • Understand where your expertise lies and how that can translate into actionable steps. For example, if your business sells hair products, you can share five tips for getting the perfect blowout in your Snapchat Story.
  • Show off your products—this can be as simple as a quick guide to how to use a particular feature.
  • Feature your employees and their unique skills—for example, if Dave in finance is really good at decorating cakes, shoot a Snapchat Story with him sharing a step-by-step guide to decorating a cake. Not only are you sharing an interesting skill with your audience, you’re also giving them a peek behind-the-scenes.

They provide their audience with exclusive content

One of Snapchat’s best qualities is the feeling of intimacy it creates between users. Celebrities use this when they share behind-the-scenes content and exclusive sneak-peeks.

Chance the Rapper provides his Snapchat followers clips of new music, both his own and that of artists he likes. As Complex Magazine explains, “A few months back, [Chance the Rapper] previewed an alternate version of Kanye West’s ‘Waves’ on his Story, and has used the platform to make music announcements and discuss charitable initiatives.”

Some ways to give your own audience exclusive content:

  • Give them a behind-the-scenes tour of your office or production warehouse
  • Offer a sneak peek of a new product on Snapchat before posting on other channels
  • Share a list of “secret” hacks related to your industry—for example, if you run an international residential cleaning company, share three lesser known cleaning secrets (or products) your employees use and swear by
  • Post interesting content from your executive or other relevant industry—for example, you could feature your company’s CEO in a video where they share “3 websites I check before I start the day”

They celebrate what makes them unique

Celebrities are pros at highlighting what sets them apart. From the moment they achieve an inkling of fame, those in the spotlight are required to create and constantly define their brand—always with their fans in mind.

For example, the general public loves to criticize Kim Kardashian for being “famous for being famous,” but her shameless self-promotion, famous friends, style-icon and selfie-queen status have done nothing but work in her favor.

As Inc. explains “She defined herself as a trendsetter, then laid out the foundation of who she was through her social media accounts.”

Image via Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat Story.

Ways to establish your brand like a celebrity:

  • Think about your goals. What do you hope to achieve with each piece of content? Whether you’re looking to drive brand awareness or generate leads, you need to have goals in mind.
  • Stick to your values. What does your brand stand for? What’s important to your employees, audience, and stakeholders? What kinds of content would go against your values? When these boundaries are established, they will help define how you present your brand on social
  • Determine what makes you different. How do your brand, product, and services stand out from the crowd? Focus on these unique characteristics and make them a part of your Snapchat strategy.
  • Consider your audience. Who are you looking to reach with your content? Why should they care? What are you going to do to help them?

They use the power of storytelling

As a short-form video platform, Snapchat is the perfect place for storytelling. Celebrities know that if they use a proven storytelling structure—with a beginning, middle, and end—they can provide interesting content for their audience.

Musician and The Voice judge Gwen Stefani often uses storytelling in her Snapchat Stories documenting what happens over the course of a day filming the show. She also uses Snapchat to share events that took place with her contestants, as well as in her personal life with her kids.

To tell stories with Snapchat:

  • Show events in a logical, sequential order
  • Establish a clear beginning, middle, and end to your Snap Story
  • Find a common theme and weave it through your Snaps for the day
  • Provide context and set-up what you are going to be doing or showing your followers
  • Add music to set the tone (every good video has a soundtrack to match)
  • Use Snapchat to its full ability—add filters, text, and slow- or fast-motion effects to add interesting components to your Story
  • Mix in B-roll footage to break up your story. Some neutral shots like scenery, texture, or a solid color can help add visual interest.

To learn more about creating compelling content, check out our Guide to Crafting the Perfect Snapchat Story.

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