How authors should use Snapchat to stay relevant with a younger audience


In a world of social media and technology, efforts need to be made to reach a generation who live their life through a small screen. Snapchat, originally introduced to the world as Picaboo, was created in 2011 and since then has become the fastest growing form of social media. The app, only available on smartphones, is designed to allow users to send photos and videos which can be viewed for a maximum of 10 seconds before they disappear forever. The vanishing content varies between a direct message to a certain person or being added to the Story – where they can be viewed as many times as needed in the space of 24 hours.

What started as a simple messaging app has grown into a strong platform for interacting with an audience, especially millennials, on a more personal level. With the Telegraph reporting up to 100 million users a day, Snapchat is a new and viable platform that authors are beginning to manipulating more and more.

Media and publishers were quick to jump on the bandwagon, especially with the introduction of Snapchat Discover. Whereas people can only reach the content on offer if they add the username to their friends list, Discover offers limited number of spaces which allows paying media outlets and publishers to reach all users with their own original content.

With the limitation of spaces, the competition for a spot is rife and earlier this year Yahoo! was dropped for Buzzfeed. The independent digital media company, who aims to deliver news and entertainment, report 21% of their total content views come from the discover section of Snapchat – just 6% behind their views from Facebook videos. Tastemade – the 4-year-old media start-up that specialises in food and travel videos – joined Discover in August and reoriented themselves around Snapchat due to the success they gained from it. These success stories suggest the fight for a spot is worth it, however, when faced with the statistics, 54% of daily users never view the discover stories making it an expensive risk to take.


Sign up and Snap

This is where creating an organic account comes in. Yes, it lessens the reach to an audience as people can only view content if they know where to find it, but it still creates a unique bond between author and reader, one that was previously lacking. In the past, these relationships have been strictly business but in such a digital age, readers crave more of a social connection.

A lot of authors have cottoned on to using Twitter to build on this, using question and answer sessions to engage with their audience, keeping them up to date and offering exclusive content. They create a place for themselves in the social media stratosphere. J.K Rowling is someone who has mastered the art of using Twitter to build up and interact with her audience.

With Snapchat being a newer, more alien concept, especially to those of an older age, it’s understandable why authors are sticking to what they know in this scary new digital world. Having just got to grips with using social media in the first place, authors are cautious about delving even further into the unknown world of social media. But with the app being so popular with the younger generation, are authors – especially those concerning Young Adult fiction – missing out by not joining in on the craze?

‘Only Ever Snapchat’

Business Insider disclosed that the majority of users of the photo sharing app are females between the ages of 13 and 25, and this demographic also happens to be of those most likely to pick up a YA novel. This makes Snapchat a great platform to target and interact with the intended audience. Louise O’Neill, author of ‘Only Ever Yours’ and ‘Asking for It’, started using Snapchat in February earlier this year and is a great example of an author capitalising on the success of the app. Taking to twitter to share the news, she tweeted:

“I’ve been messing around on Snapchat for about five minutes now and I hate it already”

She followed this tweet up with “It’s what all the kidz are doing! *clings to youth*”.  As a YA author, O’Neill evidently followed along with the hype to keep herself in touch with her younger audience, recognising the golden opportunity to better sell herself and her work. Three days later, she tweeted her praise and love for Snapchat and has become somewhat of an addict.

O’Neill offers readers a behind-the-scenes insight into her life, allowing them to connect with her on a more personal level. Through the use of her Snapchat Story, she targets the readers as if they were friends of hers, keeping them up to date with not only news surrounding her books, but also normal activities throughout her day. This gives them a chance to get a better sense of her as a person and negates that previous divide of seller and consumer – the reader feels more valued and connected to her as a person as opposed to just another costumer.

She uses her Story to announces events, for example, a live podcast she’s partaking in, inviting those in the Dublin area to come down and join the fun. As well as adding videos of her mum or her dog, creating a wholesome image of her as more than just a woman behind the words of a book. She recently took to the app to announce that she’d been longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award for her latest book, giving her audience the chance to celebrate her success as she promotes herself simultaneously.

A ‘Story’ away from success

Any young person with a smartphone is more than likely to have Snapchat downloaded onto their device, giving an author the chance to have their work deposited directly into a reader’s pocket. Granted, the content will only be viewed if the reader seeks it out so the use of other forms of social media come into play here as a means of directing readers to the exclusive, vanishing content. But once the initial connection is made, an author will have a first-hand line of communication. Many big companies are already using Snapchat to stay relevant in a digital age, but how is this applicable to authors?

Joe Warnimott suggests the way big name brands use the social media app can easily be applicable to coincide with the writing and publishing of a book. As the content only lasts for 24 hours when added to a Snapchat Story, sending out a picture of the first page of a novel, encouraging people to share it on other social media platforms, is a great way to create a buzz around an author’s up and coming works. Getting people excited before the book is released is a great way to increase the sales as people will already know they want more.

Another effective method is using Snapchat to reveal the cover of a new book. This will make readers feeling like they’re getting an inside scoop of exclusive content, encouraging them to follow along on Snapchat. When the book is finally released, exclusive discount codes can be sent out via the app will make readers feel valued and rewarded. By making the reader feel like they’re getting a lot out of following the Snapchat Story, both personally and as a customer, they’re more likely to invest in an author’s work.

Snapchat popularity continues to grow

Though many people argue it isn’t as polished as other forms of social media, Snapchat is quickly growing in popularity and in doing so, platforms like Instagram are conforming to the individual selling point on Snapchat by introducing ‘Instagram Stories’ and reports reveal Facebook is in talks to follow along in the trend. This emphasises just how popular Snapchat has become in these past few years. Even though the key demographic is mainly younger people, Marketing Dive reported that in 2015, the number of 25-34 year olds using Snapchat grew by 103% and the number of over 35’s grew by 84%. With the amount of users growing every day, Snapchat appears to be the perfect platform to build up a personal reputation on, allowing an author to appear more realistic in the eyes of an audience and furthering book sales at the same time.





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