With the average person’s attention span lasting less than five minutes, marketers can't expect them to view traditional commercials, endure another basic social media post, or filter out the hundreds of promotions and advertisements thrown at them every day. So how are filmmakers and entrepreneurs suposed to reach their potential audience?

Spoiler alert: You need Snapchat.

Snapchat has evolved from its "wild west" beginnings into something companies can no longer ignore. Snapchat's audience numbers alone would give any company reason enough to join, but to put it in perspective, as of 2015, over 2 million Snapchat videos are being viewed each day (Bloomberg Business). And here's the kicker: a majority of those views come from the most coveted 13 to 34 demographic.

Your audience, no matter their age, race, gender, or social status, are hungry for new ways to connect with companies they care about or communities of which they are part. Now that I've convinced you that Snapchat is a viable option (I hope!), let’s explore some specifics.

Setting up your account

For those who are intimidated by setting up new technology, let me tell you that Snapchat is incredibly easy. It has a straightforward set-up that, visually, offers a clear and understandable user experience. Here’s the rundown:

  1. Download the app on your Android or iOS phone.
  2. Select "Sign Up" and fill out the following:
  • Email - I recommended you choose an email that you can use solely for Snapchat, especially if you're setting up a film/business account.
  • Username - This is what your followers will see when you send snaps, so make sure your brand/company/film name is included. Best practice: match your Twitter/Instagram handle, if possible.
  • Password - You should know the importance of a secure password by now. If not, get with the program. 

3. Privacy Settings:

  • Make sure everyone (i.e. "public") can see the snaps you send. You don’t want these to be private.
  • Make sure anyone who adds you can see your snap videos, snap pics, and stories.
  • Make sure you announce your new Snapchat account on your other social media platforms to keep your followers in the loop. 

Let's Take a Snap

There are 3 ways to share content:

1. Snap photos – These are photos taken by users to send out to specific followers. They can be viewed for one to ten seconds, depending on how long you choose. These can only be viewed once by your followers, but followes may grab a screenshot and save it for later if they want. You, the snapper, will be notified if a follower has taken a screenshot of your snap. You can also draw and/or type a small amount of text on your photos if you want to add a brief message along with your photo.

2. Snap videos - Just as it sounds, these are videos taken by users to share with their followers. You take a video by holding down the "circle" button at the bottom of the screen for up to 10 seconds. Snap videos can only be viewed once by your followers.

3. Snap stories - These are a compilation of videos and photos taken by you to send out for ALL of your followers to see. There is no limit on how many elements you can add to a single story, but the time restrictions mentioned above remain the same. Just press the icon highlighted at right (i.e. square +), located at the bottom of your screen to add new photos or videos to your story. The great thing about snap stories is that your followers can view your narrative as many times as they want within 24 hours of you posting it. This is where a filmmaker/brand/company can really benefit from Snapchat. 


4. Sponsored Snap Stories - Snapchat wants to make sure its users' privacy is kept safe, so they only allow paid ads to be seen within the "Discover" section of the app. This is a place where users can watch videos shared by a particular publisher, such as Food Network, CNN, Comedy Central, and Buzzfeed, and will see a sponsored ad every few videos. As a business owner or filmmaker, you would pay about $20 for every thousand views on your ad or movie trailer. You can also choose which in-app publisher's stream you'd like to promote the ad within, so, pick your ideal target audience, and voila, thousands of views a day!

Now, you may be thinking: “Those constraints couldn’t possibly give me enough time to get my point across!” Well, it's time for some tough love: they can, and you need to evolve your content strategy with the times. Get creative and use the constraints to your advantage. 

This is a filmmaker's dream come true: a free platform to showcase a 10-second trailer to a potentially brand new audience! It's also a great way to tap into your existing target demographic and give them an opportunity to learn more about your film or project. Snapchat is great for sparking a word-of-mouth marketing campaign, plus, a person is three times more likely to see a movie if they viewed the film’s ad/trailer on Snapchat. And if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. Snapchat matters, and if you're smart, you'll take advantage of it.