If you are a photographer, you most likely use social media to promote yourself and share your work. To be more specific, you probably use Instagram. It might be the number one social media platform for photographers, but Instagram limits you and your reach. Snapchat is a fresher and more effective platform for connection. At first glance, Snapchat seems like a horrible social channel for photographers — no discovery system, no likes, no comments, and to top it off, your content only lasts for twenty-four hours! But if you do not have Snapchat, there’s one thing you are missing: the attention.
Attention is the only thing that matters with social media. MySpace was a great social media platform, but no one is paying attention to MySpace anymore. Instagram’s power is in its massive users who pay attention every day. But Instagram does not have the monopoly on attention. Snapchat is now winning the attention game. When people consume content on Snapchat, they are paying attention for two reasons:
Reason 1: Undivided Attention
When users watch your story, the Snapchat UI forces them to give all their attention. It is like they are isolated in a room with nothing but your story. There is no other content for them to consume– just your story. By comparison, Instagram is an infinite scroll in which users are liking to, in most cases, just demonstrate that they’re liking and looking. In truth, Instagram is an exercise in feigning attention. Snapchat is about committing attention.
Reason 2: Rare Commodity
People pay attention to your story because it lasts for only twenty-four hours. An enforced timeline makes users much more likely to view stories. Who waits a day on something for it to disappear? Very few. Most consume voraciously on Snapchat.
Let me give you an example. Approximately ten percent of my Instagram followers engage with my content. Of course, more people might be seeing my photos and videos, but they are not double-tapping, liking or commenting. By contrast, Snapchat gives you around a ninety percent view rate! In other words, if you have 100 Snapchat followers you are going to reach the same number of people as a photographer with a thousand Instagram followers. That is a big deal.
How exactly should a photographer use Snapchat?
Personally, I think you should use it for behind-the-scenes stuff and extra-special “educational” tidbits. Snapchat is not a platform to share your work, that is what Instagram is for.
Snapchat is a platform to share how you work. It is a platform that allows people to see the other side of the camera — the side that you are on. On my Snapchat, I share videos of my shoots, peeks at how I edit and, occasionally, rants about various aspects of photography. I might throw in a few pictures of what I am eating for lunch here and there, but I think that is okay. Snapchat is a great place for people to get to know me on a more personal level. They can send me questions through Snapchat’s messaging system or video, and I am able to send them a video reply. It is a great way of directly communicating with people.
How do you get Snapchat followers?
Simple answer: Push them from your other social channels.
There is no discovery system with Snapchat so you must build your following from the followings you have elsewhere. I think the best way for you to get them to add you is to make a really interesting story, download an interesting part of that story, share that clip on Instagram and/or the other social media channels you’re using. Tell people that if they want to see more they should add you on Snapchat. Share your username often. Or share your profile link — in a recent update Snapchat introduced links that users can share across the Internet, which is a great help for photographers. Just click on the link, the app will launch, and you will be presented with the user’s profile. Put your Snapchat name in your Instagram bio, your email signature, and your Medium profile.
Snapchat even has “Snapcodes’ that you can share online. Here’s mine: