July 13, 2016

How To Use Snapchat for Business: What We’ve Learned So Far

This weekend our friends Liz & Ryan, who just opened an amazing pizza truck company called Well Crafted Pizza, were in town visiting and we got on to the subject of using Snapchat as one way to market & share your business. They hadn’t joined Snapchat yet, and like a LOT of people they were skeptical that it was a good use of their time. And I totally get that. I was definitely in the “not going to do it, what’s the point” camp with Snapchat when it first started gaining so much popularity myself. But since then, I’ve started to see a lot of the benefits that the platform can bring (it’s relatable, unpolished, an instant behind the scenes access to your business & life that people love seeing and that you can’t really get with Instagram, Facebook or a blog!) And because of that, I actually already wrote a “Why Use Snapchat” post and you can read that for more of its benefits & marketing advantages by going HERE. So today, I want to talk about the HOW!


The number one thing we heard from Liz & Ryan (and most people when we talk to them about using Snapchat) is that they are confused about HOW to even do it. What makes for a good “Snap Story” and what is going to make people even want to watch to begin with? And I also totally get that because Snapchat is notoriously not user-friendly and they don’t do anything to make it really clear how to use all of it’s many different functions. AND add to that, that the platform is moving & changing really FAST right now! Just this week actually, they rolled out a new feature called “Memories” where you can save some of your favorite Snaps. Not a big deal at first glance. But the thing they weren’t really drawing attention to, is that they snuck in a “camera roll” feature too so that people can now upload previously taken photos (i.e. really pretty ones from a professional camera rather than being restricted to just the camera in the app like it has always been before, which is what has MADE it so unpolished & relatable), which has the potential to change everything & make Snapchat more like one big Instagram.

We had a feeling this was coming, so the question now is HOW do you use Snapchat to make the most of that behind the scenes access, real life, anti-Instagram feel that made us all fall in love with it to begin with? We are definitely not experts, and we’re just learning as we go like every one else. BUT we have noticed a few things that have worked really well on our own stories AND what we really like when we’re watching other people’s stories. So we thought putting that all together in a list could be helpful! Here we go, How to Make the Most of Snapchat for Your Business…What We’ve Learned So Far.

1. Don’t do too many videos in a row. A Snapchat story is made up of a mix of photos and videos, and you determine the mix. When I’m watching someone’s story and it’s video after video after video, on and on, they tend to lose me. I think people just need that break of a photo to help break it up & keep it interesting. So we try to never do more than 2 or 3 videos in a row. The same is also true (although to a lesser degree because you can click through them faster) of showing too many photos in a row. The point is to keep shaking it up.

2. Don’t overthink it. The best advice I ever got about Snapchat (from Natalie Franke) is to just not think about it too much. If you think too much about what you’re going to say or post, then you’ll either not post anything or it will FEEL like you thought about it too much. What people love about Snapchat is the realness, the “off the cuff” aspect of it. So when people try too hard to be either inspirational or entertaining…it feels just like that, that they are TRYING too hard. Instead just talk about whatever you’re doing or whatever is on your mind. Yesterday, I talked about how I love the bands Air Supply, Def Leppard, REO Speewagon, Starship & Journey. And people LOVED it…because they loved those bands too & couldn’t believe someone else in 2016 did too! :) It’s those random little connections that people grab on to. (PS: while we’re on the topic of not overthinking it, don’t think that your hair & makeup have to be done before you film your first story…people will probably love it BETTER if they’re not!)

3. Try to think of things as an overall story. I know I just got done telling you NOT to overthink things, but the one thing I do think it’s good to think about is what you have coming up that could make for a fun over-arching story. This does NOT have to be something epic like going to Bora Bora! But just something that you could bring people along for start to finish. For example, we recently road tripped to our wedding in Michigan..and we posted and brought people along with us from pulling out of our driveway to getting into our hotel that night. And it was one of our most POPULAR snap days. The bride actually picked up on it and Instagrammed to tell all of her friends & family to follow her photographers adventures on the way to the wedding, and by the time we got there everyone was coming up to us and saying things like “we watched you on the road” and “I’m so glad you found ChickfilA!” :) :) So awesome! So we have just found from our own stories & from watching other peoples, that I LOVE when there is a story I’m following along to rather than just random snippets from the day.

4. Have fun with the filters & functions! Snapchat has a variety of fun things you can play around with like the “faces” you can put on (my favorite is the dog one!) or a drawing tool where you can draw on your photos and videos. It also has emojis and stickers. And then for video it has functions like fast forward or slow motion or reverse. One of my favorite videos to add is of Cooper & Atticus playing in fast forward…because they are insane. And fast forward really captures their essence! :)


5. Make Geo Filters for your business. This one requires a little bit of advance planning because you have to design it & upload it for approval at least a day in advance of your event. But basically a “Geo Filter” is a little graphic or cartoon that you can have pop up as one of the filter options on Snapchat when people are in a certain geographical area. You’ll see a lot of cities, schools, landmarks doing this (like we used one from Baltimore) last night, but more & more businesses are starting to jump on it. For instance we made this one last night for our friends Liz & Ryan to use at their Movie in the Park event and it was a huge success! We’ve made them for our Walk Through a Wedding workshop, and there may or may not be one coming for this week’s J&M Lighting Intensive Plus in Richmond! Then what happens is that anyone who is in the geographical area that you pick (you pay by the size of the area & the amount of time that you run it), can also use your filter and spread the word about your business! Think of it like your hashtag on Instagram.

6. Finally, Share Your Snapcode. Snapchat gives each of it’s users a profile pic with a unique set of dots on them (kind of like a QR code). And what it does, is gives people an EASY way to go follow you! People can just take a picture or screen shot your Snapcode picture and then there is an option on Snapchat to “Add by Snapcode.” They simply upload your picture and Snapchat will pull up your profile….crazy! So while you’re at it, grab our codes below & make sure you’re following both of us!

snapcode copy


Ok, so there are just a FEW things of what we’re learning so far. But like we said, the main point is NOT to think too hard about it. Just have FUN with it! The more fun you have with it the more people will enjoy watching. Trust me!

Happy Wednesday!

**For even more resources on how to market & run your business, check out our J&M Store!! 


  1. Judith Soule

    I’ve been battling back and forth about SnapChat because it seems like just one more thing to think about in the social media mix… I can’t seem to get motivated to use it regularly!

  2. Meredith Bernard

    I’ve been on the fence about this, too! I actually downloaded the app, added friends from my contacts and then had no clue what to do. :P Maybe I’ll give it another try…and maybe I can figure out how to find you. Ha. Or you can show me tonight. :) See you so soon! xo

  3. Candice

    Thanks so much for this guys!! I do like following you. So how can you tell when a snap or day of snaps is a success? Since we can’t see followers, are you just banking it was seen by a lot because you got more comments back than usual?

  4. Mary Marantz

    @candice: you can see how many people viewed your story!

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