Expand Your Reach in a Snap

By Charissa Plummer

With so many possible channels for marketing your financial institution, it can be a challenge determining which ones will provide the most benefit for your efforts. Many banks have made the brave venture into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram advertising. However, very few have dared to take on the primarily millennial- and Gen Z-frequented channel, SnapChat.

SnapChat was released in the fall of 2011 and in the beginning was just a channel for individuals to share unfiltered images with their peers. These images had a maximum lifespan of 10 seconds or less before they expired and disappeared. Over the years, upgrades have been made to the popular platform, making it a go-to communication tool for its users. Many of these upgrades have also been adopted by other well-known social media platforms that have come to recognize the power of image-based content.

Now the question that begs to be answered: Should your bank be utilizing SnapChat for your marketing efforts?

The answer to that question is maybe. It depends on your bank’s goals and the resources you have to achieve those goals. Let’s explore the reasons why SnapChat may be a good fit for your marketing plan.

SnapChat by the numbers.

There are 178 million daily active users globally on SnapChat. Although that number isn’t as high as the 1.2 billion daily active users on Facebook, it is still a significant number considering this is a platform frequented by the highly coveted millennial and Gen Z generations. According to Statista, 78.6% of adults 18-24 and 47.6% of adults 25-34 use the app. When looking at the habits of teens ages 12-17, usage increases to 83.4%.

There are several options for easy implementation.

  • SnapChat Story – The SnapChat Story feature is an unpaid feature available to anyone with a SnapChat account. Users can take pictures and/or videos and post them to their Story for all of their followers to see and engage with. Many banks have used this marketing channel in their recruitment efforts by advertising their workplace culture via SnapChat Story. Banks can also use the Story feature to boost customer service efforts by addressing any questions or concerns their followers may have. For banks that may be concerned with whether or not they will be able to archive this content, there is a manual way to save all outgoing and incoming content. SnapChat Stories can be downloaded and saved to your device, as long as you do so within 24 hours of posting the content.
  • Sponsored Geofilters – This is a paid feature that can be used to align your bank with a cause or build your brand’s visibility at a sponsored event. Geofilters are determined by location, and allow users to overlay logos, art, and text over their SnapChat photos. The cost of a geofilter depends on the timeframe in which it runs, and the radius in which it is accessible.
  • SnapChat Discover Ads – This is another paid feature that can be used for tips, advice, business announcements, and more. Discover Ads start at a higher price point than the more commonly used sponsored geofilters. These ads appear on a tab labeled “Discover” on the app, and feature trending stories, viral topics, and event coverage. These ads are usually promoted by larger, well-known brands as they cost upwards of $50,000 each—which is likely why they typically have the greatest success in reaching the majority of the app’s users.

Can my budget handle it?

Well-known financial institutions such as J.P. Morgan, Citibank, and Bank of America have been recognized for engaging in this new wave of marketing. Now you might be thinking: My financial institution can’t afford the same advertising as those big-name banks can. Don’t jump to conclusions just yet. You can have an effective presence on the platform—without breaking the bank. There are community financial institutions that are making the same leaps in advertising that big banks are.

What about compliance?

SnapChat was designed to function at a rapid pace, showcasing content that’s merely temporary. That leaves a short window of opportunity for archiving. This may raise an issue for some banks’ compliance teams. Because of its fleeting nature, there are also no disclosure capabilities or click-through options, so trying to promote banking products could result in issues with compliance. It may be in your bank’s best interest to use SnapChat as a tool for community initiatives and events, rather than trying to add it as a medium to your marketing mix.

SnapChat in action.

StonehamBank ($600 million), a community bank with branches in Stoneham and Billerica, Massachusetts, has effectively used SnapChat to enhance brand visibility at locally sponsored events. Their most successful effort was coincidentally also their first time using SnapChat. When the bank sponsored a free admission day at their local zoo, The Stone Zoo, they launched a sponsored geofilter via SnapChat. This geofilter had a lifespan of 10 hours, which occurred during the Stone Zoo Free Admission Day. It was accessible within a 3 million square-foot radius—or about 3/10 of a square mile—and it cost a little under $200 to run. By the end of the event, the geofilter was viewed 3,500 times on the app, and 33.7% of those views were converted to users by people at the Stone Zoo Free Admission Day.


What’s the key takeaway?

SnapChat is a fun and trendy marketing tool with a potentially enormous reach. And there are countless ways you can use it for your bank. However, it comes with its challenges. Voltaire’s timeless advice comes in handy here: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Depending on your goals and objectives, your marketing team may need to get creative and step outside of the traditional marketing box. But you’ll be glad that you did when you can reach a different demographic—in its element—for an affordable price.

Charissa Plummer is a digital account executive at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Marketing is an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: [email protected]LinkedIn.