How Kerwin Rae makes thousands of dollars in sales on Snapchat: Five tips for Snapchat marketing


In November last year, Kerwin Rae and the financial services company he co-founded, K2 Capital Group, had next to no social media presence. Realising this was something he had to fix, Rae took it upon himself to work out how to effectively market on a number of social platforms.

Among the growing number of social media platforms available to growing businesses, Rae says he realised Snapchat was a heavily under-utilised platform, with only one percent of marketers using it despite the service’s high engagement rates and massive 200 million strong user base.

“Snapchat is the fastest growing platform in Australia right now, it grew 46 percent last year in Australia alone,” Rae told SmartCompany.

Rae began his Snapchat journey in February this year and since then, he’s accumulated a few thousand followers, and every snap receives about 400-600 views.

More importantly, in Rae’s first 11 days on the platform, he made $11,000 in sales, despite his business offering services rather than products. Thanks to Rae’s engagement with his Snapchat followers, to date he says he’s made more than $130,000 in sales from Snapchat.

For those who are unfamiliar with the service, Snapchat allows users to share self-deleting photos with other users. The service also has a ‘Stories’ function, which lets users post photos and videos, which are viewable to any friend for 24 hours.

It is with this Stories function Rae has found success but he believes the negative stigma associated with Snapchat needs to be dispelled.

“I don’t think many people really understand the platform – up until now most people have thought it’s for nude pics, and something only kids and millennials use,” Rae says.

“The fastest growing demographic on the platform is 35-year-olds plus, so it has quite a mature demographic, which is only maturing [further].”

Rae believes any business, regardless of what the business offers, has the capacity to use Snapchat as an effective marketing tool. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are also essential, and Rae says they should be used in conjunction due to their different “contexts and languages.”

Here are five tips from Rae on how to successfully market a business on Snapchat.

1. Snap back and snap often

Rae realised in order to get customers engaged properly on the platform, a form of interaction was needed outside of sharing content through Stories. So he began to request responses from his viewers.

“I started to wonder how to engage these people apart from them just viewing,” Rae says.

“This is where the ‘snap back’ culture is so important, and that’s how businesses engage. Ask your viewers questions and get them to respond to you, or snap you back.”

Rae says if you’re doing a piece of content, request comments, thoughts, or questions from your viewers, which will in turn make them more engaged with your business.

2. Keep it raw, keep it authentic

According to Rae, around 24% of Snapchat’s user base uses it for following brands. He believes one reason this number is so high is due to the nature of the platform’s content.

“Snapchat’s content is very authentic, it’s not produced, and in many cases it’s somewhat behind the scenes,” he says.

“One of the traps marketers and businesses fall into when using the platform is treating it like other forms of social media, where things are expected to be overproduced and pre-prepared.

“People don’t know how to produce that raw content.”

A recent addition to the platform is a tool called ‘Memories’, which has a function that allows users to upload images from their phone to put on their Stories. Rae says this is a great tool for brands, but warns of it going against Snapchat’s authentic nature.

“This feature is good for businesses, but it’s been very interesting to see the adoption of it,” he says.

“The bigger brands are using it very cautiously, because one of the main things people like about Snapchat is that it’s not produced.

“People love the authenticity of it.”

3. Cross promotion is key

The “closed system” nature of Snapchat makes it hard to gather followers, especially in the absence of sharing feature like those on Facebook or Instagram. The only way followers can find an account is by the username or unique “image code” the app provides.

Rae recommends cross-promotion on already established platforms as a way to boost your Snapchat followers.

“I got on Facebook and Twitter and told all my followers there to follow me on Snapchat,” Rae says.

“I even sent out an email to my customer database, which helped get the word out.”

The content being rolled out to these consumers is highly important says Rae, claiming “you have to publish content worthy of being consumed by your target market”.

Rae has three different Snapchat “segments” he does regularly. The first of theses is ‘in the car with Kerwin’, which features five to six snaps on a particular topic.

He also does sixty second features with entrepreneurs, asking them questions over the course of six 10-second snaps. Finally, he rolls out another five or six snaps of “behind the scenes” raw content.

“If you push out really good content, people will consume it and it will naturally lead to more business,” he says.

4. Put more dedicated focus on social

Not every business needs a dedicated employee to focus on Snapchat but Rae recommends an increased focus on social in general.

“Every business needs to think about creating a publishing department that’s responsible for publishing across different forms of social,” he says.

“There will always be a marketing department, but they’ll need to evolve and become more publishing orientated.

“On social, you need to think about content, context, and publishing.”

5. Don’t frontload, and keep it relevant

Expecting consumers to digest 20 snaps at once is ill-advised says Rae, and this practise, known as frontloading, won’t go far in keeping your viewers coming back for more.

“A key thing that makes Snapchat attractive is that it is brief. The optimal amount of times to snap a day is seven to 25, and not all at once,” he says.

“If you work a 10-hour day, publish one or two snaps an hour,” Rae says.

Rae also notes how Stories are ordered in the app, with Stories that have been updated recently rise to the top of a user’s list.

“Stories are ordered by who publishes last, so it’s about frequency and relevancy. If you can push your story to the top of the feed, it will give you much higher content consumption,” Rae says.

When it comes to converted his Snapchat followers into paying customers, Rae’s strategy focuses on helping these potential customers solve their problems.

“When I get people snapping me back, I respond to them and work out what problems they’re facing in their business, and over 3-4 snaps I solve the problem,” he says.

“I then send their details to the sales department, and from this I have 100% sales conversion because people have already had questions answered.

“I’ve already delivered massive value.”

However, Rae warns business owners and marketers can’t “act like a sales and marketing douchebag” in the social media age and need to take the time to be genuine with customers.

“It takes a lot of time, I probably spend three-and-a-half hours a day on community management, but we’re talking big returns,” he says.

“I’ve never had an issue with spending time to make money.”

This article was first published on SmartCompany.

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Dominic Powell is a freelance journalist with an interest in technology, startups and music.