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Smashburger aims to capture millennial cool with Snapchat

When looking for new ways to engage with millennials, Smashburger saw an opportunity in Snapchat, the social media darling among young tech users.

The fast-casual chain, which launched its Snapchat presence in July, has reached more than 10,000 followers on the channel in the time since, according to Smashburger PR and Marketing Manager Christine Ferris.

“We started realizing that it was an awesome platform to reach millennials,” she says, noting that the chain has allocated more attention and money to building its Snapchat presence this year.

pig burger

Smashburger customer submission via Snapchat

Millennials have been flocking to Snapchat for some time, though brands have been slower to follow. The social network surpasses Facebook in popularity among teens, according to a recent Piper Jaffray survey, with 19 percent of respondents saying that Snapchat is the most important social network to them.

What’s more, the channel commands a lot of eyeballs, receiving more than 6 billion video views a day, according to a November Financial Times report.

One of Snapchat’s greatest assets for brands is the fact that users have to remain engaged to see the content, Ferris says. 

Sixty-five percent of Smashburger’s Snapchat followers watch its videos the whole way through, she adds, noting that the channel has been “highly successful for us.”

Other brands are seeing value in Snapchat as well, as IHOP recently launched its own campaign through the channel, enabling guests to employ the channel’s geo-filters to promote its Double-Dipped French Toast. “Snapchat is one of the most popular social networks and many of our guests use it regularly,” Kirk Thompson, vice president of marketing for IHOP, said in a release.

When Smashburger started using Snapchat, it aimed to share four stories on the platform per month, and has since upped that number to six.

most beautiful burger

Smashburger customer submission via Snapchat

Story content tends to vary, sharing behind-the-scenes looks at the chain or specific products, staff members’ favorite menu items, or random lists such as “five things only burger lovers will understand.”

The key is to not come across as too branded or promotional, Ferris says.

And as with any social media channel, the “engagement piece” is paramount, she notes, fostering interaction with the brand that will ideally lead to in-store sales.

When the chain re-released its Mint Oreo Shake earlier this month, the brand’s Snapchat fans were the first to know, Ferris says.

For Valentine’s Day, the brand ran a two-day Snapchat campaign, allowing guests to take a screen shot of a “valentine” that also served as a BOGO coupon. The campaign—which was promoted on social media and via email—grew Smashburger’s Snapchat followers from 2,600 to 9,500, and resulted in more than 6,800 in-restaurant coupon redemptions.

The chain is integrating the platform into several upcoming promotions, as well as its first crowdsourcing campaign, launching later this year, during which customers can name and vote for a future LTO.

During these efforts, the brand makes sure its voice on Snapchat is consistent with its other social media accounts, a tone Ferris likens to actor Chris Pratt—witty, confident and with a little swagger.

“We try not to take ourselves too seriously,” she says.

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