How to use Snapchat to promote your music

Posted on 1st July 2021
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I know what you are thinking. As your eyes cross the softly lit screen processing the words above, “foolish man, snapchat is dead, TikTok killed it and now all my snap streaks were in vain!.” It turns out we are all wrong.

Snapchat is in fact thriving. Due to a plethora of new features being added and a deluge in new advertising methods, it is performing better than ever reporting a jump from 218 million users in 2019 to 256 million users in 2020 and claiming a frankly unbelievable global average of 2,083,333 (strangely specific) snaps sent per minute, elevating it to the position of most popular social media app amongst US teens. Knowing this, it is added to our arsenal of phone speaker penetrating weapons, and we look at ways to crack an audience which boasts 8 million UK users alone.  

Overview of features and how they are relevant  

Before choosing how you are going to use Snapchat for advertisement, think about your own goals and what you want to get out of the app. If you have an extremely limited budget and/or limited time, then consider how much you can dedicate to the app. If you have a solo project and work full-time, then maybe prioritise the social media platforms you prefer and you are going to engage more with. If you have a band, take a platform each and share money from the band account and assign spending quotas. 

There are many ways you can divide up resources (time, money, contacts) to maximise your project’s effectiveness. These days, more people shop from their phones than the desktop, so exploit and harness the fact that Snapchat is specifically aimed at mobiles and remember this when planning your ads. What would look better on a laptop screen? If it would suit a bigger screen, it is more suited to Facebook. 

Your music is the product and unless you are signed or have a team, you/the other project members are creating, managing, and selling. So, what is Snapchat doing to help brands advertise? Since its inception in 2011, Snapchat led the way with its temporary story feature, something borrowed later by Instagram and Facebook and now it’s doing more than ever to monetise it for advert space. Snapchat story ads show up in a user’s discover feed, a feed which itself is tailored to the individual allowing for more accurate targeting of prospective fans. The ads have become very lucrative with brands like Ralph Lauren and The New York Times going as far to partner with Snapchat to better exploit the market with new exciting AR and VR features.

Getting started with Snapchat ads is easy and carries a medium price tag, starting at around $5 a day. If it works for you then it validates the expenditure, if not then perhaps switch up tactic or move on, but still worth looking at. For further research, Snapchat for Business has its own website which is constantly updated to help users keep up to date with software changes and Snapchat’s own advancements. 

When planning your advert, keep it to a bare minimum. Statistics understandably show that Snapchat suffers from the quickest ad fatigue of any platform- it is built to share the capturing of a moment not broadcast a mini documentary. Keep it succinct, only a matter of 10 seconds or so, showing all the key information. A common hack to get around such limitations and maximise your time in your consumer’s hand is to link to a website. Encourage the user to click or swipe up, cultivating traffic to your website and helping you expose your audience to more of your content.  

Here is a quick bullet point list of what to remember:

  • Aim for a video that will run 3-10 second's max 
  • If you add an attachment to your Snap Ad, Snapchat will apply a call to action with a caret at the bottom of the advertisement 
  • Remember to include your brand/band name 
  • Format for full screen and vertical as this is how it will be seen 
  • Ensure your advert is suitable for viewers aged 13 and up 

Creating a filter can be an amazing way to drive brand awareness and push your product. Although only really suited to a band or an originals project (although a Rolling Stones cover band using a big lip filter would go viral, and catch the copyright lawsuit of the century), a filter can be a fun way of getting fans to engage with the artist’s imagery. Fans can post photos of them to their stories to spread the word, you could reshare these to your story to generate engagement or even run a competition asking fans to use the filter in creative ways, giving merch to the winners.

AR is a natural evolution of filters and is keeping Snapchat at the forefront of fun video editing in real time. AR allows for the average filter, say the classic dog face (imagine how much that has brought the creator in over the years…), to become interactive and stick its tongue out or for your eyes to grow to huge sizes in the video. AR is once again more financially draining but brings with it more for the fan to engage with, and so more for the user to enjoy and share. The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing AR or a filter, just avoid being offensive in any way. Unbelievably, some awful AR missteps have included profanity, ‘beautiful plastic surgery’ face distortion and even one that attempted to change the user's race.  

Snapchat do offer a variety of assorted styles of advert, including the catalogue or collection ad. Although great for selling merch, these will offer little to an originals project. The thumbnails on the collection ad could show courses for an online music educator. Or services for a session musician? If it fits the format, why not try selling.  

Another excellent feature of Snapchat advertising is the highly targeted ads. When it comes to the targeted adverts, the level of customisation and degree of specificity is almost scary, combining data from multiple sources and companies. Have a socially conscious hip hop track and only wish to target Novara media viewers? An Adele style ballad which would suit a Mum with kids in high school who is just visited the hairdressers? Snapchat allows for endless customisation, so you never need to waste an advert again. 

To conclude on the advertisement capabilities and refer to evaluating if Snapchat is working for you, let us turn our attention to the most intuitive aspect of the app and the ultimate weapon when conquering your target demographics, Snapchat analytics. 

The most user friendly, clear, and comprehensive analytics display on any social media platform, Snapchat uses high contrasting yellow and covers EVERYTHING. From percentage of swipe ups by which sex or age group to hilariously specific descriptions of your most active audience, for example ‘shopping mall shoppers’ and ‘liquor drinkers’. This allows you to really hone down your target and save on money, because those male, iPhone using shopaholics are a lost cause. This in tandem with the level of customisation in ad targeting makes Snapchat one of the best platforms for attacking your target market. 

Actually using Snapchat as a musician 

So, knowing that Snapchat can be an amazing marketing tool with regards to advertising and competitive features, Snapchat can also be used like every other social media app to simply just entertain fans or keep them updated. Snapchat excels when used in a comparable way to TikTok, thought of as less formal than Instagram and made to share you in the moment, being genuine and unplanned. Snapchat can be a way to see behind the scenes, for fans to feel like a friend, use this to endear yourself.

Why not show every step of the creative process?

You writing a song, jamming with a friend or even maybe those frustrating days when you cannot play those groups of 4 note scale patterns above 90bpm (we are all human and some days our fingers say no). For the brave, branch into non music related snaps, remember the fan is also a fan of YOU, some will follow you because your attractive, some because of your personality or fresh trainer collection, appeal to these fans. Share what you do to relax after a day of work, share your favourite films, discuss what you are currently reading and make the audience feel like a part of your life. Many people are going to watch your content crashed out on the sofa after a day working, cater to them.  

Remember that even giving your fans exclusive content or personal clips can still work for you. A wonderful way of using this is sharing snippets of latest content, teasers of new songs, this not only gives fans a glimpse at what you are doing but creates something easily shareable. We’ve all heard a band’s new album teaser on social media and messaged a friend saying “hey, have you heard ‘insert hip happening acts name here’ new song? What do you think?” be that hip happening act.  

So get using Snapchat  

Although more limiting in content variation, Snapchat has one of the best advertising analytic suites and allows you crazily specific pinpoint advertising. Used like TikTok and Instagram stories, it is perfect for brief snippets into the creative process and selling you as a person, allowing you to help disguise your inhumanly talented lizard man form and appeal with your fun personality. Using and engaging with all the diverse types of social media can sound daunting, costly and time consuming and sometimes, for one person, it can be. But remember, if your project has more than one member, delegate. If you are a solo act then plan, focus, and invest serious time on one or two platforms a day in a cycle so all get covered, allocating some time for at least a story or quick video daily to keep a certain level of engagement. At the end of the day, social media platforms should be for fun and engaging with them should be a positive experience for everyone. With the world opening again, there is no better time than to get active on as many platforms as possible and share your next gig.  

by Will Francis
Performing initially around central Essex in quiet, rain-soaked jazz dives, Will now resides in the windy-indie city of Brighton, finding his place in the growing RnB and Soul scene. Having played guitar, bass and synth for numerous acts over the years, in numerous venues and at a variety of festivals, he is an experienced session player, composer and guitar/theory educator.
View all posts by Will Francis

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