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[Editor’s Note: This article was originally featured on the Haulix Blog. It was written by James Shotwell, Social Media Coordinator for Haulix, an online music promotion software. This installment of our “Getting Social” series taps into the world of Snapchat – and why it might be able to help independent artists promote themselves & engage with fans!]

Earlier this month, a new report was released that brought out attention to an alarming trend: Smartphone using teens and young adults (18-34) are spending more time on Snapchat than Twitter. Facebook and Instagram are still the titans of social media, but Snapchat is quickly gaining on the latter and shows no signs of slowing in the near future. You may have been told Snapchat was a place for the taking and sending of nudes, but there is so much more to it than that, and if you’re willing to put in the effort there is a good chance the latest tech trend could help your following grow in ways you never imagined.

I am not going to sit here and proclaim that I am a master of Snapchat. In fact, prior to realizing the potential such a service could provide artists I never even made a real effort to understand everything the platform had to offer. Now that I do it’s clear there is plenty of room for brands and bands alike to not only engage, but also further develop their audience with a surprisingly small amount of effort. It’s work nonetheless, but if your audience is already on board with the app then half of the work is done for you.

BEFORE WE BEGIN: It is absolutely critical that you ask yourself, and even your fans if you desire, whether or not your audience uses Snapchat on a regular basis. If your music caters to adults, especially the over 35 crowd, there may be little to no benefit from adding another social network to your marketing efforts. On the flip side, if your audience spends their summer dreading the fall because it means school will begin again then you have every reason to add this little ghost icon to your phone/tablet:

Make an Exclusive Announcement

The people who will follow you on Snapchat are going to be diehard fans, bloggers looking for exclusives, and friends you’ve made along the way. With the possible exception of the digital press, these are the people who are willing and waiting to help you promote, so why not give them an opportunity to do just that? Through mass messaging, you can share an exclusive announcement with followers on Snapchat before your news to the rest of the world. You can even build awareness for your efforts on Snapchat by first teasing the announcement across all other channels, pointing people who want to be ‘in the know’ to connect on Snapchat.

Give Fans Behind The Scenes Access Using ‘Stories’

Snapchat makes it incredibly simple to share photos and short videos with followers, but late last year they took their efforts a step further by debuting new feature called Stories. Snapchat Stories add Snaps together to create a narrative. When you add a Snap to your Story it lives for 24 hours before it disappears, making room for the new. Your Story always plays forward, because it makes sense to share moments in the order you experience them.

An example of a good application of Snapchat Stories would be any situation where you and/or your band play a festival. Throughout the day you can capture exclusive moments for followers on Snapchat, then when things wind down you can string them together and create a story for followers to enjoy in one sitting. This allows everyone to enjoy your efforts at their own chosen pace, and if there is one thing every consumer loves it is the ability to make their own decisions.

Share Snippets Of New/Unreleased Content

Snapchat made its name with photos, but the short video clips users are allowed to share can make a world of difference in your next single/video/album promotion. By sharing short clips with fans you are able to tease your latest release without ruining, or even downplaying the importance of the official premiere in any way.

Additionally, you can use the previewing of new material to engage with fans. Ask them to send back their reaction to your latest clip as a photo or video response and see what happens! It may even make for a good contest, which brings up the next point I wanted to make…

Run Contests, Including Scavenger Hunts

Having the ability to share media instantaneously with thousands of fans at once offers a unique opportunity for contests that other platforms cannot provide. This can be as simple as a request for the best reaction photo/video to a certain preview, or as complex as a city-wide scavenger hunt. Each idea comes with its own set of pros and cons, but we don’t really have time or space to run through all of that in this post. The best advice we can offer is to listen to your audience and figure out what method of giveaway is most effective. Whatever works for you is exactly what you should do. That may sound simple enough, but it bares repeating.

Everyone Loves A Good Sale

Remember how we discussed why sharing exclusives with Snapchat followers is a good idea? As a way to boost your follower count, as well as give back to those who promote your efforts, it’s a good idea to consider hosting a spontaneous merch sale promoted exclusively through the media-sharing platform. This provides further justification for people to seek you out on Snapchat, and also allows for a nice bit of personal engagement with those who have been following since day one.


Snapchat is a social network just like any other, and it has the power to do great things for your career as long as you know what you’re doing. Be personal, welcome fans into your world and make it known you appreciate them for welcoming you into theirs. Success is music is built atop a two-way street where fans support the artists they love and artists give back with creativity and anything else they can muster. Snapchat provides a number of unique engagement opportunities, and with proper preparation can provide a bounty of benefits, including a more dedicated (and sizable) following.


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