Snapchat can be a powerful employee advocacy tool

Posted on July 12, 2016 10:55 am by | Brands | Internal | Mobile | Social Media

How and why to use Snapchat for employee advocacy

Snapchat, the messaging app that has won over youth audiences but confounded adults, is going mainstream. Among U.S. adult smartphone users over 35, 14% are now using the app, according to a Wall Street Journal article; the numbers jump to nearly 38% for those 25-34. The numbers will continue to climb.

The grown-up adoption of Snapchat signals that it could scale as big as Facebook, especially since teens aren’t abandoning it just because their parents are using it. The one-to-one messaging at the heart of Snapchat is still private and messages still vanish. But Snapchat has been taking steps to appeal to a bigger audience, most recently with the introduction of Memories, which lets you save Snaps and Stories, all of which used to disappear once you had viewed them, then share them again.

On his Online Journalism blog, Paul Bradshaw explains what Snapchat Memories means: “Now for the first time Snapchat users can create non-chronological sequences and stories using images or video that they have not taken themselves.”

These changes are clearly designed to attract more users, and they will most likely succeed. Since Snapchat is now one of the places customers are, brands are naturally starting to get on board. Most companies, though, still haven’t figured out what they can do with Snapchat, while analysts are advising caution. In a white paper, SHIFT Communications’ Christopher S. Penn suggests it’s too early since Snapchat doesn’t provide robust analytics, making measurement nearly impossible. Others balk at the cost of paid advertising, which get close to $1 million.

There is, however, a way to use Snapchat effectively despite these drawbacks. Many of your employees are undoubtedly Snapchat users. There is no good reason not to add Snapchat as a channel for your employee advocacy efforts.

Just as employee ambassadors currently share their work-related thoughts and brand content through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, they can now share with their Snapchat connections. They can add their advocacy Snaps through Snapchat Stories. They can assemble content through Memories. Both potentially reach all of their Snapchat connections.

Of course, Snapchat is not a tool for simply sharing the same content employee ambassadors post to Facebook and Twitter. You can’t simply share a URL that links friends to company content or add a YouTube video. Snapchat is a different beast altogether. Take the time to learn how it works, then provide training and other resources to your ambassadors.

Once those inclined to use it as part of their advocacy efforts have learned the do’s and don’ts, there are a number of ways you can inspire them. Here are just a few:

Employee takeovers

Takeovers are popular on Twitter and other online tools. Since 2011, Sweden has handed its official Twitter account over to a different Swedish citizen every week. Snapchat takeovers are already a thing. Victoria’s Secret models have taken over the fashion retailer’s account. Disney Parks has had top Snapchatters take over its account during their visits to their various locations. Star players took over Major League Soccer’s account.

Cisco Systems' employee Snapchat takeoverEmployee takeovers have happened, too. During a week in April, Cisco Systems employees took over the company account. As Carmen Collins explained on the Life At Cisco blog, “Want to see our annual employee Crawfish Boil in Texas? How about a tour of our Raleigh office? What’s it like to be a polite Cisco Canadian? You never know what story they’ll share, and each story only lasts on Snapchat for 24 hours! So you’ll want to be sure to check back in regularly.”

Catrin Lewis, internal communication manager at Reward Gateway (an employee engagement company), rolled out Snapchat for internal communications channel and within 24 hours, 37% of the company’s employees were following the account. She uses it, as she explains on the Reward Gateway blog, to “give our employees a peek into what was happening that day and make them feel part of it. The instantaneous, live updates connected our audience to the content in a way we’d not been able to authentically achieve before.” Based on that success, Lewis launched an employee takeover program. She writes…

We began with Rade Georgiev, our web producer in our Macedonian office, taking it over for a week, introducing us to the office and new team members there. He was given one rule only – make sure you do one post a day that tells us more about the team in Macedonia. We’ve since had our Birmingham team takeover introducing themselves and giving us a tour of their brand new office and keeping us up to date with their office move. And next week we’ve got Dominic Taylor from our Consultancy team showing us a day in his life as he travels the country meeting our clients.

Content themes

Giving employees a theme as the basis for the content they’ll create during a time- bound campaign is already a common element of a lot of employee advocacy programs. (Creating a leaderboard for the duration of the campaign to inspire more content creation is also a routine practice.) You can either make sure program participants know they can include Snapchat in during the current campaign or create a campaign specifically for Snapchat, offering some ideas about how employees could use it to share the theme in inventive ways.

A Day in the Life

While a Snapchat account takeover is a great way to let people know what life is like at your company, it’s not the only way. Employees can create and share day in the life content using their own accounts. Again, it’s important that they know what they can’t share; for example, employees shouldn’t post Snaps that reveal anything proprietary, like a manufacturing process. Once employees have a high level of comfort that they won’t get in trouble for their Snaps, they can help build the company’s reputation as a great place to work and aid in recruiting efforts, among other things.

I’m keeping my eyes open for other ways employee advocacy programs are using Snapchat and I’ll report them when I find them. In the meantime, if you’ve found a great employee use for Snapchat, let me know.

Shel Holtz's SnapcodeHoltz Communication + Technology has worked with a number of large companies on the creation and implementation of employee advocacy programs. We are available to work with your organization as well. And do follow me on Snapchat!



  • 1.Actually, it was more than a week in April - that's just when we started! WeAreCisco is an employee takeover each day to show the culture and technology from the employee lens. And we actually do have metrics! Happy to follow up any time @cshirkeycollins on Twitter

    Carmen Collins | July 2016

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