Snapchat for Authors and Publishers: Best Practices

Submitted by jared on Thu, 01/14/2016 - 08:59

Snapchat Logo

John Green's TwitterA lot of people just don’t get Snapchat. But, this is why if you can master it, there is a largely untapped audience on the popular social media app that can be yours for the taking. Many people are turned off from Snapchat because the content released there is temporary, it can be difficult to use for newcomers, and the methods through which one can promote on the platform aren’t quite as clear cut as they might be on others. However, by doing a little experimenting with Snapchat and keeping in mind these 10 best practices for authors and publisher, you can successfully implement a Snapchat strategy that will have you selling more books and growing your audience in no time!

1) Know your audience:

As reported by Business Insider in 2015, a demographic analysis completed by Comscore found that the Snapchat app boasts a higher concentration of millennial users than any other social media, making it the go-to platform for companies that want to connect with people 34 and younger. According to the numbers, a whopping 76 percent of Snapchat’s user-base is made up of millennials. Not only that, but of these users, the vast majority of around 45 percent of these users are people aged between 18–25. For authors and publishers that are interested in using Snapchat then, they should be sure to consider if their publications are right for this demographic. In other words, for publishers and authors that are releasing young adult literature, Snapchat is a no-brainer, but if the books intended for promotion are targeted toward the older crowd, it might be best to pursue other avenues.

2) Use other social media channels to draw followers to your Snapchat:

If you already have a following on other social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter, you may want to test the waters with Snapchat by asking your audience through those channels to add you on Snapchat for special news and promotions. By doing so, you can gauge whether or not the people who have been following you in those other places are also using Snapchat or not, and it will help you to build an initial audience for your first few “snaps” when you are just starting out on Snapchat.

3) Don’t just recycle content:

While this practice could be said for platforms other than just Snapchat, it can be especially true here. While it may be tempting to post the same updates to your Snapchat that you do to your other social media, try to keep this to a minimum. Remember, some of your audience may be following you on other channels as well, and you don’t want to inundate them with the same information over and over again. While it is ok to recycle some content across various platforms, it is important that you try and utilize the key features and attributes of each platform, tailoring content so that it is optimized for each different channel.

4) Get creative with your content:

Snapchat is unique from other social media platforms in a number of ways. This gives authors and publishers and opportunity to get creative in the ways that they construct their content. For one, the content you release to your audience on Snapchat is temporary, rather than a permanent fixture on your wall or timeline. This means that there is already a sense of urgency built into your snaps for you. One way a publisher could take advantage of this is by offering promotions that require followers to take screenshots of different parts of a discount code for a new release, so that they have to stay “tuned” in to your channel for a longer period of time to get the full code. Or, an author could tease out the title of his next book over the course of a day releasing just a few words at a time like a sort of digital scavenger hunt. The author could then offer a promo code to all followers who replied to him with the full title.

Whatever you decide, remember that no social media should be all promotion. Take the opportunity to give followers a look behind the scenes or at your personal day-to-day experiences. Give your audience a chance to get to know you and embrace the chance to make connections with them.

5) Use the My Story feature:

Snapchat’s “My Story” feature allows users to add multiple snaps to that section of their profile. Each “story” is accessible to your followers or to everyone who uses Snapchat, depending  on the option chosen. The snaps added to the story will remain there for 24 hours, after which they will be removed. This is where a majority of an author or publisher’s content will be posted on Snapchat, and it is the easiest place for followers and other users to get caught up on your latest content. One interesting aspect about stories on Snapchat that authors may enjoy is that it allows them to add a sort of narrative structure to their posts if they so choose.

In addition to being the most accessible part of a Snapchat profile, the story section also includes some analytical tools that you can use to see how many views each snap in your story has received and also how many screenshots of your content have been taken. This information can help authors and publishers to see what types of content their Snapchat followers are reacting to the best.

Snapchat tutorial


6) Engage with your followers:

Social media experts often tout the importance of engaging with audiences through comments or other means on your social media channels. This is no less true on Snapchat, however, the methods of engagement may be slightly different and less obvious here. Snapchat allows users to reply to snaps they enjoy, and also gives authors and publishers the ability to communicate with followers on a one-to-one level. For instance, a fan who receives a snap from one of their favorited authors would likely consider it a much more intimate and exclusive communication than if that author simply replied to a comment on a post somewhere else. The snap would be more akin to a direct message, but because the snap is temporary, it also better compels the follower to seek out more such communications in the future. Another way to engage Snapchat followers would be to ask them for pictures of them reading your book and then send out snaps featuring the images they send you. In the end, Snapchat is all about sharing life’s fleeting moments with others, and so it is important that a user do so as much as possible if they want to be successful on the app.

7) Don’t follow the crowd:

This one may seem obvious, but for many it is not. Consider the holiday season when practically everyone in the world’s timelines and feeds are filling up with season’s greetings and the like. While this might seem like a good idea to connect with others in times of socially recognized festivity, it is easy to get lost in the overwhelming onslaught of similar content that is churned out by everyone else. Instead, do something witty, different, and unique from what everyone else is doing. It will set you apart and users will appreciate having something other than the same old stuff to look at.

8) Use Snapchat to connect with media as well as fans:

Fans aren’t the only ones using Snapchat. Other writers and media professionals are as well. Use your Snapchat profile as a means to reach out to these other personalities as well. For instance if you find a fellow author that you think your audience might enjoy, attempting to cross-promote each other could help each party grow their audience on the platform. Find ways to tie in other publications you are excited about or enjoy into your snaps, and if a blogger or journalist mentions your work don’t forget to feature snaps about them or their site on your profile so that your audience can easily find the promotional material if they so wish.

9) Use your snaps to draw followers to your blog or site:

Just like the second listed practice here advises authors and publishers to draw on their other social media followers to gain Snapchat friends, it is also beneficial, once you’ve acquired some Snapchat friends, to use the platform to draw users to your website or blog. Promo-codes and teaser videos are good ideas of how you might do this. For instance, if you have a new book trailer coming out, rather than release a snap of the entire trailer, an author could post the trailer on his personal site, and then send out a snap of the title fading in and a “Free preview available” call to action with an included site URL. This not only brings some users to your site, but also creates a chain of engagement by requiring your audience to view more than one post, and this can help form a more solid connection with your followers.

10) Enhance your Snapchat user experience with add-ons:

Snapchat is a relatively young platform in terms of social media, and because of this, the company is constantly working on new features and enhancing the user interface. However, there are some things that you are currently unable to do on Snapchat that could make it easier for authors and publishers to promote their work with the application. But fear not, the Snapchat community has been hard at work finding solutions for these issues and there are several different add-on apps that can make your Snapchat profile more efficient. While it is up to each user to select and experiment with these add-ons to fit their own personal preferences, two examples of such add-ons that are highly recommended are:

  • SnapAll from developer dapaintballer331 (only available for Android users). Currently Snapchat does not allow you to select all of your friends with one button press. Instead to send snaps to friends you must manually select each friend that you would like to send the snap to and the My Story section is reserved for snaps that you would like all your friends to see. However, if you set the story section of your profile to be viewable by everyone on Snapchat instead of just friends, then you will be stuck checking the box beside each and every one of your friend’s names whenever you want to let out a snap that only followers can see. By using the SnapAll app, though, you can make your stories available to everyone on snapchat while easily making more exclusive communications to your fan base through regular snaps. This helps to increase the reach of each snap you post, as well as to compel people to add you as a friend so that they can receive the exclusive communications that general users cannot see. The only drawback to this add-on is that it is only available for Android users with a rooted device.
  • Camera Roll add-ons. There are numerous add-on Snapchat apps that can be found in the App Store and through Google Play that allow Snapchat users to release photos from their camera roll as snaps. This is useful for several reasons, one of which being that you can take pictures at any time, and then if you like, release them as snaps at prime traffic times on Snapchat. This helps users insure that they are releasing their snaps at the best possible times while being able to include photos that were taken much earlier.



Caballo, Francis. “Cool and Not so New Social Media Networks for Indie Authors.” The Book Designer. 8 July 2015.

Gantz, Eva. “Snapchat for Authors: A Guide for Success.” Giving Books a Voice. 25 November 2015.

Hoelzel, Mark. “UPDATE: A breakdown of the demographics for each of the different social networks.” Business Insider. 29 June 2015.

Social Media and YA Lit Culture. “Snapchat.” n.d.

Warnimont, Joe. “Snapchat for Writers: Your Work in Every Reader’s Pocket.” Writing with Warnimont. 11 April 2014.