Snapchat might be social media’s most mystifying channel. Either you’re into it or you’re scared of it. But one thing is for sure: It’s where your brand should be. Lately we’ve been crushing on POPSUGAR for running the best brand Snapchat game, particularly the unique and innovative ways they engage their loyal followers through brand storytelling. We wanted to know more about their process and how they’ve dominated so quickly, so we chatted with “The Snap Sarahs” aka POPSUGAR’s Snapchat Producers Sarah Goodwin and Sarah Wintner to get a behind-the-scenes look at their operations. Find out how they produce so much content, what their biggest Snapchat pet peeve is, and how you can run the best brand Snapchat.

How to Build the Best Brand Snapchat

popsugar-snapchat-tips (2)

Advice from POPSUGAR’s Snapchat queens, Sarah Goodwin and Sarah Wintner, on how to run the best brand Snapchat.

C5: What does Snapchat offer its followers over other social networks?

PS: Snapchat is yet another relevant way to connect with our Millennial and Gen Z audience in real time. It’s immediate, since stories expire in 24 hours, and it’s fast paced. Snapchat’s live chat feature enables us to connect with our viewers one-on-one — we’ve even found Snap inspiration in messages from our users. Snapchat is also relatively new and constantly adding new updates and features, allowing us the creative freedom to experiment.

C5: You are pretty much the model of the best brand Snapchat. What does it take to produce your snaps?

PS: We have two full-time Snapchat producers: Sarah Goodwin and Sarah Wintner. (They call us the “The Snap Sarahs.”) We shoot 4-5 times a day. When we aren’t snapping, we are both writing, planning, and designing future snap stories. We also recently brought on a Snapchat assistant who helps with shoot research and prep.

C5: I’m obsessed with your stop-motion series. How long does it take to compose one of those sequences?

PS: Shooting stop motion is a content style we are very proud of; we are very focused on coming up with innovative ways to shoot our Snapchat stories. Stop motion stories can take anywhere from 45-90 minutes to shoot, depending on how involved the tutorial is.

C5: How have you seen Snapchat help grow or better engage your audience?

PS: As mentioned, we interact with our viewers on Snapchat every day, so we love to create stories that foster interaction with the PS community. For example, we will put new beauty trends to the test and include a call-to-action like, “Are you game to try glitter tears?! Chat us!” This prompts a flood of responses from viewers. We make sure to read and respond to every single chat we receive. It’s that daily conversation between us and our viewers that we believe keeps people coming back to watch more content — and helps us get an idea of what content they crave and love, so we can deliver more of it!

A great example of how we create content to cater to audience engagement is our recent story, “Ask A Gay Guy,” which was posted during Pride month. We wanted to give our viewers who might be struggling with sexuality, identity, and relationships the ability to ask POPSUGAR Editor Ryan Roschke questions that they might not usually have an outlet for. We called for questions in the morning, reviewed all questions submitted via chat during the day, then snapped Ryan answering viewers’ questions later that day. We were overwhelmed by the number of personal and honest questions we received.

We also utilize influencer takeovers to feature experts on our channel. This gives them a chance to share their tips and advice and doubles as an opportunity to grow our Snapchat following. When influencers promote the takeover on their social channels, it drives their following over to our Snapchat. Since implementing takeovers, we have seen a significant boost in “views per snap” from recent takeovers. We really enjoy collaborating on creative storytelling and concepts with people who have mastered their own brands, sharing our own learnings as the leading independent media brand for women, and introducing our audiences to each other.

C5: What does POPSUGAR do differently with its social strategies than other brands?

PS: We treat Snapchat as more than a just platform to show the inner workings of the PS brand. We use the platform to deliver content that is produced with the same professionalism as our YouTube and Facebook. Our Snapchat content is always fun, inspiring, informative, relatable, and, best of all, happy!

C5: What does the creative process look like for coming up with new and different content for your snaps?

PS: We usually program most content about 1-2 weeks ahead, allowing room for us to snap trending content as it comes up. We draw inspiration for Snapchat stories from PS.com, what is trending around the web, and what we see on social media. The two Snapchat producers input content ideas to a programming calendar, then pitch and workshop ideas in a weekly meeting with senior video and editorial staff.

C5: What trends do you see for the future of Snapchat?

PS: Commerce. Product recommendations always garner high numbers of screenshots, everything from new book releases to the must-have beauty products. We have seen that our viewers love to see product recommendations to screenshot them for future reference. It would be interesting to see Snapchat take advantage of this and allow viewers to shop for the products featured in snaps.

We utilize the Emoticode app to enable our viewers to shop products featured in our stories. Emoticode is a visual way to represent a URL in a snap. When the Emoticode snap screenshot is imported into Emoticode, the viewer will automatically be taken to the product’s website to shop. We use Emoticode for more than just shopping. It is also used to link to Spotify playlists and articles on POPSUGAR.com.

C5: What are your tips to run the best brand Snapchat?

TIP 1: Pull back the curtain on your brand and give viewers insider access they wouldn’t usually get to see.

TIP 2: Pay attention to the numbers. By tracking the performance of each story you can start to get a feel for what your viewers are enjoying and what they aren’t sticking around to watch. We keep a detailed log tracking view per snap, total screenshots, and retention rate for each of our stories. By doing this, we have gained a better understanding of what our viewers want to watch.

TIP 3: Don’t be scared to experiment with new content formats on Snapchat. After all, it only lasts for 24 hours!

popsugar-snapchat-tips (1)

C5: Is there anything brands should avoid doing on Snapchat?

PS: Snapping horizontally is big a pet peeve. In the past, we have been so accustomed to shooting and viewing video in landscape, but Snapchat caters to a new perspective for Millennials on the go as they keep their phones upright to watch content. “Only snap vertically” is our top guideline for anyone snapping from the POPSUGAR account.

Keep up with the latest by following them on Twitter @POPSUGAR and Snapchat with this QR code:

POPSUGAR Snapchat QR Code (June)

Want more tips to build your brand? Read more about creating a visual language and explore how infographics engage your audience.