You may have noticed a new paperclip icon recently when you opened up Snapchat. No, your eyes weren’t deceiving you: Snapchat now allows you to add links to your Snaps, unlocking new opportunities for your brand to promote web pages within the social platform.
Launched this summer, Snapchat Paperclip is named after the paperclip icon that has become synonymous with hyperlinking. Before this update, the ability to add links to your Snaps was a feature only available to advertisers.
Prior to Paperclip, Snapchat was notorious for being a closed platform, focused on keeping its users within the app. Now, with the release of Paperclip, Snapchat has found a middle ground that allows users to include links but stay in-app. Users simply swipe up to visit the external link.
Snapchat hasn’t been doing too well this year.
In early July, their stock dropped 5 cents below their IPO price. Snapchat downloads were down 22 percent overall in the second quarter, and over 40 percent on Apple devices alone. Worse, its rival Instagram continued growing year over year, and it’s got twice as many users.
Snapchat doesn’t show a follower count and makes it difficult to find people. Social media influencers couldn’t see a real business benefit to using Snapchat. In a survey of 550 influencers, only 30 percent even reported currently using the platform, and of those, 46 percent said they’d cut Snapchat first if they were forced to give up a platform.
But Paperclip might change all that. Now that they can directly promote products of their own or companies they work with, Snapchat can attract budding influencers or retain bigger ones that would previously have left for YouTube or another platform. Brands no longer have to have an advertising budget to get a justifiable return out of Snapchat; they can partner with influencers to promote their brand instead. Thanks to Paperclip, Snapchat is no longer a closed platform. Influencers and brands can easily link to and from their other social networks and websites to build their following and amplify their traffic.
Early results show Paperclip is paying off. Timothy Armoo, CEO of Fanbytes, told Campaign magazine that his company is already seeing “an increase of 30% in influencers promoting their own products – merchandise, extended content on YouTube – and an increase of 8% in influencers working with brands.”
Excited yet? Fortunately, Snapchat’s Paperclip feature is simple to use. Before you send a Snap or add a post to your public Story, click on the paperclip icon to paste a link.
You can paste a link you already copied to your clipboard, resend a similar link (an especially nice feature for marketers reaching out to individual influencers or fans en masse), or browse the web for a new link. Then click “Attach to Snap” and send.
Before you start littering your Snaps with links to your website, remember that Snapchat has a very distinct voice. Simply posting a photo of your product and demanding people to visit your website doesn’t work on any social media platform, but the young millennials of Snapchat find it particularly distasteful.
Snapchat is about having fun and sharing experiences. Successful brands lean into that by using Snapchat to post teasers of their content – an interesting quiz, story, or video – and then linking through to the landing page where people can finish the story. Take a cue from GrubHub. The food delivery service has won a Shorty award for their work on Snapchat.
As you craft content for Snapchat, consider how to adjust your CTAs for the platform’s unique audience. And don’t forget to track your progress. Use UTM tracking and link shorteners for different campaigns, influencers, and post types so you can measure what works and refine your strategy.
Get inspired with the following clever ways your brand can use the new Paperclip feature on Snapchat.
The ephemeral nature of Snapchat has always lent itself to flash sales. Last year, Brazil fashion brand Hering hosted a SnapBlack Friday promotion where different models showed off potential looks and displayed a card with a flash sale promo code for a few seconds. Users had to grab a screenshot so they could use it later. Now, with Paperclip, they could simply link through to the sale directly. Shoppers don’t have to take a screenshot or memorize a promo code – they can simply click and buy.
Does your brand regularly host pop up stores or exhibit at trade shows? Help customers find your booth by taking a cue from realtors. They’re Snapping mini-tours of their open houses, and attaching a link that opens up directions on Google Maps.
If you’re selling services rather than products, include a link to your appointment form. Food companies and restaurants could link to their menu, Yelp page, Google map directions, or order and reservation forms. Whatever you offer, show a real customer enjoying your product or service with a clear CTA and a Snapchat-exclusive promo code.
Last year Sony Music relied on the popularity of The Chainsmokers to reintroduce themselves to Snapchat’s young millennial audience. Snapchatters accessed special geofilters as they walked through multimedia installations. Next time Sony Music hosts such an event, they could include direct links to purchase the artist’s songs, subscribe to their YouTube channel, or listen to a special Spotify playlist for the event.
One of the best things about Paperclip is that you can now use Snapchat to drive more traffic to your other marketing channels.
Link a teaser to your latest tweet, where Twitter’s larger public audience can retweet and help your post go viral thanks to searchable hashtags. Or you might link to your email newsletter signup page. Turn your Snapchat followers into revenue-generating subscribers by offering them a free ebook as a thank you for signing up.
Beauty brand Benefit Cosmetics frequently directs its larger Twitter following to unique Snapchat video content to grow their fanbase.
The possibilities with Paperclip are enough to make any marketer salivate. It also signals the next wave of competition between it and Instagram.
When Instagram introduced Stories, it was considered a win for the platform. It now had an avenue to directly compete with the immediacy, etherealness of Snapchat – and give it to twice as many users. But Instagram still doesn’t allow links outside of the bios for regular users (advertisers and verified celebrities can add them to Stories).
Now, Snapchat appears to have the upperhand, as Chris Loretto of Digital First Media recently told American Marketing Association: “The Paperclip feature is easy to use and doesn’t require the advertiser to ruin their picture with text overlay asking people to visit their website. This also takes Snapchat from largely only sitting in the awareness phase of the consumer journey and places it a bit closer to purchase by driving site traffic.”
But Snapchat can only rest on its laurels for so long. Once Instagram inevitably adds in links, the next step will be to see which platform can make itself more valuable for advertisers. One way to do that is through metrics and analytics, in which case Instagram may have a competitive advantage, thanks to its parent company Facebook.
Either way, there’s no longer an excuse for brands to ignore Snapchat. Paperclip makes Snapchat a viable online marketing channel for anyone, from established brands to hopeful influencers.
Michael Quoc is the founder and CEO of Dealspotr, an open social platform connecting emerging brands, lifestyle influencers, and trend-seeking shoppers in exciting new ways. He was previously the Director of Product Management for Yahoo’s media lab, where he spearheaded the launch of several innovative services in the live video and mobile social networking areas. Michael has been awarded nine patents relating to mobile and social network applications and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.