A few years ago, it was only really savvy recruiters who had thought to use Snapchat to attract new applicants. As an opening gambit, most business who were attuned to the platform’s potential were using it to offer potential candidates a unique, creative way to apply for jobs. A company would send out a Snap advertising a position, and would promise a job interview to the person with the best or most creative response—whether this meant engaging with a particular brand in a fun way, showing off some skill with visual media, or anything else that might entice people into this new version of the applicant funnel. This was all the rage for a while, but it quickly became apparent that Snapchat could be used for so much more.
Now, Snapchat is quickly becoming a standard part of the recruitment marketing toolkit, in part because recruiters are realizing that it can be a powerful force not just for sourcing candidates, but for building a strong employer brand. By creating the kind of whimsical, authentic, and playful content that Snapchat’s userbase has helped to define, recruiters can become a part of an important cultural phenomenon. Sure, the platform might not have as many users as Facebook or YouTube, but its engagement levels are astounding. Their 200 million daily active users watch 10 billion videos per day. Not a typo. Where marketing emails have roughly a one in four chance of being opened by their recipients, Snaps that get sent out to your followers have an 80-90% chance of being opened. How can recruiters say no to that?
Okay, we may have gotten ahead of ourselves a little bit here. We’re guessing that most of you, since you’re reading this blog post, know what Snapchat is. But, possibly, there are some of you out there who are still a little confused about this platform and how it works. So, let’s start with the basics. On Snapchat, users send Snaps to one another, which are images that disappear after a set period of time (usually one to ten seconds). Users can also send video, and they can create “stories,” which are series of posts in succession that other users can follow as they unfold. These, too, vanish after a set period of time. This might seem like a disadvantage to some, but social media posts on other platforms have such a short shelf-life that it might not need to have a huge impact on your strategy. Like Instagram, Snapchat gives its users filters to use to make their pictures more interesting, as well as “lenses” that enable users to augment their pictures with whimsical elements.
Now, because Snapchat is still such uncharted territory for marketers and recruitment marketers alike, even those of you who are fairly well-versed in the platform might not know that much about its ads infrastructure. Snapchat ads are a bit like YouTube ads, in which videos play before or after your target users’ selected content. The difference is that users can swipe from your video directly to another web page or piece of content based on your preferences. You can display a short video and have users swipe to watch a longer, full-length recruitment video (up to 10 minutes); you can have their swipe take them to the app store, if you have an app specific to your recruitment process that they might want to download; or they can be redirected to a page on your website, whether that’s a landing page for a particular job or just a newsletter sign-up page. We’ll go into more detail about this infrastructure in future posts, but suffice it so say that you should do your best to align your ad types with your specific recruitment goals.
Now, when it comes to this unique platform, it’s not just about how many people are engaging with content. It’s about which people are engaging with content. Compared to most other social media platforms, Snapchat skews towards a younger age demographic, meaning that it’s one of the best places to try and reach Millennials, particularly Millennials in the U.S. Everyone, seemingly, has plenty to say about how to recruit this particular demographic, and we’re willing to go out on a limb and say that a lot of that’s pretty much nonsense—but it is true that if you’re having trouble reaching the 18-32 age range with your employer brand, Snapchat is a better bet than most.
But it’s like they say, age is just a number. The appeal of Snapchat isn’t so much that the users are younger, it’s that the community on Snapchat has developed its own very specific milieu that simply doesn't exist in the same on other social platforms. This means that recruiters are in a position to emphasize elements of their employer brand and EVP that would feel out place on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. With this newfound freedom, you can reach passive job candidates whose attention you might have difficulty attracting with more traditional approaches.
Okay, so Snapchat is a tool that gives you a chance to emphasize elements of your employer brand that you otherwise might not be able to—but how exactly do you go about doing that? Well, for starters you need to really engage with the many tools that Snapchat gives you access to. If there’s a popular filter or lens, don’t be afraid to use it. In general, visual employer branding content should either get viewers excited about the prospect of working at your company or provide them with value in the form of insider knowledge about what life is like at your company. So, if there’s a fun side to working at your business (and hopefully there is!) Snapchat will give you plenty of ways to show it off. Consider sending out Snaps, or even post a story, from a company picnic, an office party, or anything else that shows a side of your business that potential job candidates might not ordinarily see. In this way, you show off your employer brand in the form of your employees doing something they enjoy—something that you might not see on LinkedIn or in a traditional recruitment video.
There are plenty more specific strategies that recruiters can use to draw the attention of their target personas. For instance, you could have an employee takeover of your Snapchat account for a day, so that prospects can get the inside scoop straight from the people they’d be working with. Or, you might give your prospects the inside scoop on your application process (this will help them overcome any hurdles that are preventing them from applying). Whatever you do, just be yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down. All the kids are doing it.
Sure, lots of people think that it’s a fad, but that doesn’t mean that any employer brand gravity you generate on the site somehow doesn’t count. In the current talent environment, recruiters need to use all of the tools at their disposal, and at this very moment that means taking a stab at Snapchat.
The idea of Web 2.0, in which there are just as many people creating content on the internet as consuming it, seems a little quaint these days. YouTube, for instance, which started out as basically a platform for people’s home movies, now has its own TV service and a complex video suggestion algorithm—a great resource, certainly, but not quite the “everyone’s a creator” utopia that some people envisioned. On Snapchat (a platform that didn’t even exist a decade ago), however, things are different. Of the app’s 200,000,000 daily active users, more than 60% are creating content on a daily basis. Sure, that content vanishes almost immediately, but it’s still a sign of an active, engaged userbase of the kind that can’t really be found anywhere else.
The upshot here is that single Snap, or a single Story, can communicate a lot to prospective applicants. Part of your Snapchat game is going to revolve around trying to master some of these fundamentals and develop a version of your existing employer brand that utilizes these elements. In all likelihood, this is going to mean making a point of emphasizing the fun, unusual elements of your EVP. Whatever quirks differentiate your workspaces, say, from those of your competitors will be good fodder for your Snapchat audience. If you have ping pong table, for instance, you could send out a picture of two coworkers engaged in a friendly game, with the score sketched out above the table, or some commentary on the game.
By contrast, you could also make a point of highlighting relatively mundane elements of office life, with a whimsical, Snappable twist. Use a lens or filter to turn a coworker’s morning coffee break into something surreal and exciting. This can actually be a good way to get passive job candidates over the imaginative hurdles that stand between them and the submit button on your career page. Why? Because it helps them imagine day-to-day life at your company in a fun, memorable way.
As with many other platforms dedicated primarily to visual media, Snapchat is an app that works best your focus is on people. Particularly, your people. Resist the urge to put your CEO or your founder front and center in your employer branding efforts. Instead, let your team take center stage—or even let them take the reins of your Snapchat account. This will give them the chance to share their hopes, challenges, interests, insights, and daily activities in a way that feels authentic and spontaneous. Don’t worry about the lack of polish or low production values—on Snapchat, this might actually be a plus.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that what’s being posted is essentially in keeping with your existing employer brand, but within that you should have plenty of wiggle room. Consider letting various team members take turns creating Stories that take the users through a typical day in their work lives, from any interesting projects they’re working on to any challenges that they encounter and overcome to any office downtime or moments of camaraderie with coworkers. This will, of course, make it easier for potential applicants to see themselves in the positions you have open—but it will also give your company a chance to show off its EVP. If your company offers its employees the chance to solve interesting problems, the opportunity to work with smart, diverse teams, or educational opportunities, those facts will come through in your coworkers’ narratives. Better yet, they’ll come through in a way that doesn’t make people feel like they’re being marketed to.
Okay, so you’ve developed a Snapchat strategy that highlights your EVP by way of your team and utilizes at least of few of the formatting options that are unique to Snapchat. What next? How do you maximize your employer branding ROI? One option is to use Snap Ads to augment your existing strategy. If you’ve already developed a strong brand voice and a dedicated following of potential applicants, paid ads can be a good way to leverage your reach into conversions, by giving users a call-to-action to download an app or visit a webpage (ideally a landing page for the job opening questions, or a landing page for an email signup if you’re only trying to strengthen your pipeline). Engagement rates for ads on Snapchat are only around 30%, but that could still represent a sizeable chunk of people if you’re targeting a wide enough audience. If you’ve already developed a brand that users appreciate, and if you can craft an ad that will be just as aesthetically engaging as your other content, this can be a useful way to drum up applications.
Conversely, if you’re having difficulty with actual employer branding part of the equation, there are some other paid advertising options available to you. Specifically, you can sponsor a branded lens (or, if you’re hiring for a particular geographic area, you could potentially sponsor a filter) that users can engage with. There is no obvious conversion opportunity for either of these options, but if you can afford to expend some resources on a general employer brand awareness push then it might help your recruitment efforts in the long run. Even these efforts, however, should be backed by a strong employer branding strategy that appeals to Snapchat’s unique demographics and userbase.
Now, just because there are exciting opportunities here does not mean that everything is sunshine and roses. Because Snapchat is so different from most other social platforms, the most effective strategies for use may not be obvious to most recruitment marketers. As a result, there are a number of hurdles that typically need to be overcome before businesses can really generate meaningful employer brand gravity through the Snaps, Stories, and videos that get shared on Snapchat. What are these hurdles? Read on to find out!
Let’s start with the basics: in order to recruit effectively on Snapchat, you first have to forget everything you think you know about social media marketing. This platform has its own community, its own language, and its own milieu, all of which makes the Snapchat experience very different from that of other social media sites. How so? Well, first of all, there’s no tags, or shares, or likes, or hashtags. These are tools that social media marketers have relied on for years to improve their content’s performance, but here they’re nowhere to be found—none of which is to mention the fact that your content simply vanishes after a set period of time.
Just as stringent as the technical limitations, however, are the stylistic practices. On a platform like LinkedIn, your users might be expecting fairly straight-laced, corporate-seeming content. That won’t fly on Snapchat. Users expect content that feels honest, authentic, and improvisational. Sure, you’ll have to have a cogent marketing strategy for your presence there, but you don’t want it to look like you have a strategy. Thus, you might find yourself taking a punk rock sort of approach—you can spend hours getting your outfit just right, as long as it looks like you just rolled out of bed.
Now, if you’ve worked with other social media platforms in the past, you’ve probably found yourself searching for those elusive pieces of “evergreen content,” posts, images, or videos that stay relevant and keep gaining views long after the first time they were posted. These have, historically, been powerful drivers of engagement for marketers, especially as Facebook’s algorithm (for instance) has become more and more stringent in what it shows to users. On Snapchat, this concept doesn’t exist. This means that not only do you have to create content that looks and feels authentic (and engages with Snapchat’s unique filters and lenses in a way that will delight your followers), you have to do so on a consistent, ongoing basis. This might seem like a difficult obstacle to overcome, but the informal nature of the platform should make it possible to churn out content that appeals to users a little bit more quickly than you’d be able to on, say, YouTube.
Above we mentioned the idea of delighting your followers—but where exactly are those followers supposed to come from. Snapchat doesn’t have a search feature or sharing functionality, so even if a Snapchat user is interested in learning more about your employer brand, it’s not clear how they would find you. This is a problem that’s essentially unique to Snapchat, but it doesn’t have to stymie your efforts completely. Try putting your Snapchat handle in email signatures, on business cards, and elsewhere, while linking from your other social media accounts to your Snapchat (whether that’s via CTAs in paid ads or just standard posts). Not all of your followers will migrate there, but there are good odds that at least some of your target candidates will prefer to engage with your brand on Snapchat, and the less formal content on the platform might help to move them deeper into your recruitment funnel by giving them more playful versions of your employer brand and your EVP.
Of course, even if you are able to amass a decently large following, it’s particularly difficult on Snapchat to be sure that your following is composed of the of the right people. Whereas on, say, Facebook, you have a lot of demographic data about your followers and fairly robust ad targeting options to help you adjust that demographic more towards your ideal audience, Snapchat doesn’t really offer this same level of visibility. Even as you get into their advertising options, you might find that winnowing out exactly the right audience is harder than it is elsewhere (though, this is improving—you can now create “lookalike” audiences based on email lists or target people with particular interests). Because many of your followers will be discovering you based on your other social media accounts, you first have to be sure that you’re reaching the correct followers on those sites. Beyond that, however, you’ll largely have to rely on the types of interactions you’re getting, and your overall ROI.
Speaking of ROI—because Snapchat doesn’t have the same analytics options built-in that other platforms do, it can be much harder to measure your success (without some third-party support, anyway). For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure that the rest of your funnel functions as legibly as possible. The landing page for each individual job posting, for instance, ought to be able to tell you how much of your traffic is being routed from your Snapchat profile. While this might not give you the level of nitty-gritty information that you’d like, it will at least give you a rough idea of how any money and time spent on the platform is transforming into actual applies. As you track further from there, you measure (perhaps more qualitatively than quantitatively) the quality of the average Snapchat applicant and adjust your strategy accordingly.