5 Snapchat Fails That Are Hurting Your Personal Brand

5 snapchat fails

I’ll admit it: It took me a long time to jump on the Snapchat bandwagon. I couldn’t figure out why I would snap anything and even more importantly, who would care?

I had been told, “You can create a story and then download individual snaps or the whole thing!” But I was dissuaded by the change in behavior and the poor quality of the snaps I downloaded, preferring my iPhone 6’s built-in camera for photos I’d actually like to share or save as a memory.

It wasn’t until this past year that I started to see the value in those geo-filters, stickers, and snapping more than ever before.

But as far as social networks go, Snapchat is still in its infancy, and watching fellow entrepreneurs and consultants use it every way under the sun, I’ve got to say… there is such thing as a bad way to use Snapchat for personal branding.

Snapchat is No Joke

In one year, Snapchat surpassed the number of daily active users that Twitter gained in four years. If that’s not a huge wake up call in the realm of social media tools, I don’t know what is.

Even if you’re not using Snapchat, you’ve probably seen people snapping up a storm around you, or watched two drunk friends cracking up over the faceswap functionality at the bar.

And it’s not just individuals who are getting a kick out of chillin’ with their snappies… brands and celebrities alike are using the tool to give followers a never-before-seen look into their private, backstage lives. It’s an exciting time for marketers ( and anyone who wants to keep up with the latest Kanye/Taylor feud).

If you’re not convinced yet to give Snapchat a try, I don’t blame you. But keep in mind thatThere are huge opportunities on to connect with new audiences on Snapchat… if you do it well. Here are five things that Snappers are getting wrong when it comes to using the tool for their personal branding and marketing efforts. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of these common Snapchat faux-pas! 

1. You Forgot the Strategy

If you are going to use Snapchat for anything other than sharing cat videos and swapping faces with your kid, you’ve got to remember that this platform deserves its own strategy just like Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media marketing tool. You can’t show me a video of your 19 Bud Light empties and then start giving me tips on how to be a politician.

What you could do is get real about how you feel after those 19 beers, and how everyone makes mistakes, and how you lost your mind for a minute there. Or you could decide to not post drunk snaps, just like you shouldn’t post drunk tweet. But I’m not saying you should never snap about your hobbies. I’m saying that perhaps you should ask yourself how certain snaps further your mission. Here are some good questions to keep in mind as you’re deciding what to share:

  1. Will this show my followers something they didn’t know about me? (This creates loyalty among like-minded individuals.)
  2. Will this make my followers laugh? (This shows humanity.)
  3. Will this explore a behind-the-scenes look at what I do? (This creates intrigue.)
  4. Will this expose a mistake or something I’m not proud of? (This shows authenticity and creates trust.)

You must make sure whatever you choosing to post to your story on Snapchat is intentional. Send the drunk snaps directly to your besties and you get the best of both worlds. Because no, sharing a story of all the empty Bud Light cans on the floor around your bed does not make you a leader in the beer industry.

2. You’re a Big, Fat, Advice-Monster

You know what the internet doesn’t need? More videos of your talking head telling me what I should and should not be wearing/eating/drinking/listening to/reading.

What’s more interesting is hearing about what YOU are doing, not what you THINK someone else should. You don’t know me! You can’t tell me what I should and shouldn’t do!

Instead, tell a story about a mistake your made in your business and what you learned from it. Share some new logo or branding designs. Talk about a tough client meeting that you weren’t prepared for. Let people know that you just got back from a workout you didn’t want to do on but feel amazing now.

Melissa Hartwig, creator of the Whole30, does a great job at this. She snaps about what she’s eating and where she’s working out, which is totally on-brand for her, but she doesn’t berate us about why we have to eat and work out the same way she does. Oh, and she’s hilarious. Especially about her hair. Follow her @hartwig_melissa.

Telling stories in the context of your own life and experiences is what flips the script from “you should” to “I did, and here’s what I learned,” which is way more compelling. Why? Because what worked for you isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else, but at least if you talk about it in a personal way you’re allowing your audience to make that decision.

3. You’re Sending Irrelevant Snaps Directly to Other Users

How many times do we have to tell you… DO NOT send me a snap of your morning latte unless I specifically asked for it OR if there’s some sort of shared memory where I’d really want to see it. DO send me a video of your baby saying, “Hi Jess!” or some other cute thing that relates to me.

Irrelevant snaps make users angry. And sad. They can’t figure out what they’re supposed to do with it, or whether they should respond. Pretty landscape snap? Nice! Waves crashing at sunset? That’s lovely! Your dog licking itself? Uh, thanks? The 19,435th selfie? GO AWAY.

On the other hand: New dress you’re trying on and looking for advice? Oh, yes, I will tell you exactly what I think. Inside joke written on a t-shirt at a thrift store? LOL! Clip of a concert of a band you know I love? Rad!

See the difference?

My dear friend Amy Schmittauer isn’t happy about this trend either. Take a look:

4. You’re Snapping, But Not Watching

The amazing thing about Snapchat is that it thrives on one-on-one engagement, more so than any other platform out there. Other tools like Twitter and Facebook let you share links and ideas to followers, but when people respond, unless it’s with a direct message on Twitter or private message on Facebook, it’s public.

With Snapchat stories, you can push snaps and videos out to everyone who follows you, but they get to respond directly and privately to you. This creates a bond between people that is unprecedented. In fact, I’ve seen users communicate exclusively in pictures and stickers, which furthers the argument that sometimes words are just not enough.

(I personally don’t believe this, but I can’t ignore what the kids are saying.)

As a result, to get the most out of Snapchat for branding, you need to be watching and engaging with other users out there. I’m not asking you to follow back everyone who follows you. Think about the people or brands that you look up to. Think about your colleagues and friends. Don’t just follow them, send them notes about their stories. Send them personalized snaps when you’re thinking about them.

As trivial as it may sound, the quick and easy personalization that Snapchat allows is a huge asset for making new connections and strengthening old ones. Do it.

5. You’re Not Reviewing Your Metrics

There is not yet a tool that provides reliable Snapchat metrics, but you can check them out yourself. Here are some things that matter:

  • Views: This is the number of people that look at each snap. Your first snap in a story will likely have the most views because of the autoplay feature on Snapchat from one story to the next. Try to look at a snap that’s in the middle of your story to get a more accurate view of how many people are actually watching through.
  • Story Completions: Do you lose people after the first or second snap of your story? Maybe that means it’s not compelling, or that your message isn’t right for the audience that’s following you. I have a few people on my list right now that I swipe left on immediately when they pop up because they’re always sharing things I don’t care about. (I should just unfollow them, but you know, manners.)
  • Screenshots: As you get more comfortable with the platform, have provided valuable snaps to your audience, and developed your strategy, you may start wanting to promote a few things. For example, ask users to screen shot the graphic you’re using to promote a webinar you’re hosting so they can remember the link to join. Or ask your followers to follow a fellow snapper that you love. Encouraging screen shots is a great way to measure engagement. Pay attention to how many screen shots you get and who screen shots so you can tailor your message based on performance.

Are You Convinced Yet?

Even if you’re not ready to change your entire behavior, give Snapchat a try. It’s amazing to see what people are creating out there, and it’s fun to remember that this new tool is a work in progress for us all.

Follow me by username, jessostroff, let me know what you thought of this post, and get ready for nature walks, cooking shows, silly stories, oh, and some fun #entrepreneurlife updates, too!


Get tasks off your plate faster with the VA Starter Kit!

Jess Tyson, CEO & Director of Calm

Jess is the founder and proud Director of Calm at Don’t Panic Management. (And yes, she invented that title because that’s what you do when you’re the boss!) She wrote the book on how building a successful relationship with a virtual assistant can make all the difference in helping business owners get to the next level. Her life is often a whirlwind of wrangling her toddler, speaking at conferences (virtual and beyond!), researching productivity hacks, and meticulously making matches between overworked entrepreneurs and focused virtual assistants. Jess's first book, Panic Proof: How the Right Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Sanity and Grow Your Business is available now: panicproofbook.com

  • Current location: Redding, CT
  • Go-to Karaoke song: “Hand in My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette
  • Favorite kind of cheese: Aged Goat Gouda
  • Beverage of choice: Champagne
  • Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
  • Superpower: Delivering miracles, especially when all hope is lost.

Ready to meet your perfect VA match?

Focus on your best. We'll handle the rest.

Other articles you may like...

How a Virtual Assistant Can Help Scale Your Company Workflows

S2 EP 01: How a Virtual Assistant Can Help Scale Your Company Workflows

A Guide to Work From Home Ergonomics

A Guide to Work From Home Ergonomics

5 Time Management Tips for Busy Virtual Assistants

5 Time Management Tips for Busy Virtual Assistants

How to Set up a VA Relationship for Success

How to Set up a VA Relationship for Success

How To Repurpose Your Content (Work Smarter, Not Harder!)

How To Repurpose Your Content (Work Smarter, Not Harder!)

9 Steps to Spring Clean Your Business

9 Steps to Spring Clean Your Business