Cover Stories May 2016 Special Section

2016 Snapchat Revolution

Written By: Collin Austin

A few years ago, a new photo-chat application called Snapchat emerged and quickly gained popularity among teenagers. Snapchat allows users to send video clips up to 10 seconds long as well as pictures (referred to as “snaps”) that are customized with filters, art, text, and emojis to friends or the general public (depending on a user’s privacy settings). Snappers can send these snaps to specific individuals or post them to “My Story,” making each snap available to those who wish to check-in and view. Unless you, as the snapper, intentionally save your snaps or your recipients screen-capture the pictures you send, the snaps will disappear after 24 hours. Because these stories only last 24 hours, a natural urgency is created for users to open the application and view the stories of those they follow.

Many of us first heard of Snapchat on television news broadcasts labeling it as the “sexting application” due to the disappearing snaps. For that reason, most of us rolled our eyes, assumed it was the latest fad and moved on. We were wrong. We were VERY wrong. Today, Snapchat is the fastest-growing social media platform, and I’m here to tell you that if you aren’t using it, you are missing the next opportunity to grow your business.


“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.” — Seth Godin

One word. Storytelling. It’s no secret that some of the greatest leaders, speakers and influencers have been those who can captivate audiences with their stories.

Snapchat gives you the avenue to share your story. My customers, for example, can see behind the scenes and be exposed to what is happening in the world of New Scooters 4 Less through my eyes. Startups, students, and other businesses are exposed to my growth, challenges, failures and successes as an entrepreneur. Parents are exposed to me as a young father trying to figure out how to parent two young boys and be a husband to my amazing wife, all while trying to be a positive, impactful leader in our world.

I tell my story daily, and 24 hours later, it vanishes.


For the last few months, my team and I have been experimenting to see what really works for us. (Trial and error is always the quickest way to learn.) We began by having a Snapchat that was specifically for our shop but quickly realized that people don’t want to see the same NS4L stuff every day. Creating valuable content was proving to be challenging on a day-to-day basis. Instead, I decided to let people see what was happening through my eyes as the COE — Chief of Everything. Almost every day is different. Followers can go on a virtual field trip with me daily. Our marketing team remains focused on our other social media platforms, and I engage, communicate, and build relationships with friends, family, entrepreneurs, students and customers on Snapchat.

I’m always experimenting. Sometimes, I am showing flashes of events throughout my day… everything from morning cuddles with my 2-year-old to business meetings and chaos to evening walks in my neighborhood. Other days, I am asking my story viewers (audience) questions, gathering feedback from anyone who saw me talk at a speaking engagement, or simply answering questions about scooters and/or entrepreneurship.

Snapchat allows me to have more than a business owner-customer relationship. It allows me to have more than a teacher-student relationship. Snapchat gives me the ability to create meaningful and value-filled relationships, whether or not it is someone I will ever meet in person (a concept that is very difficult for people to wrap their minds around). It allows me to provide value and insight to others, but it also allows me to gain value from those who I follow.


If there isn’t any other reason, it’s where the attention is.

You: “Snapchat is for kids.” Me: “So was Facebook, remember?”

In Gary Vaynerchuk’s recent blog, “The Snap Generation: A Guide to Snapchat’s History,” Gary refers to Mark Zuckerberg as the greatest trader in consumer attention of all time. Discussing why Zuckerberg reportedly tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion one year after launch, Gary explained, “He understands the value of attention. He recognized that Snapchat was well on its way to winning the attention of a generation, much like he did with Instagram (which he bought in 2012 for $1 billion).” Snapchat declined Zuckerberg’s offer and now has a valuation near $16 billion.

For the longest time, there have been a few groups of people:

  1. Those still in denial. They continue to say, “I have had my business for 30 years and never had ‘social media.’ I certainly don’t need it now.” If they haven’t lost yet, they will. Times change and they change fast. Embrace the change and get on board.
  2. Those who saturate the market. Don’t hate me, marketers. I am a marketer, too! But, some get on social media platforms and put “20% off today only” every day of the week and do nothing but push, push, push. Remember when email newsletters were the hottest way to get your business in front of customers? Today we call it SPAM.
  3. Those who say they “can’t keep up.” “I don’t know how you kids do it with your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and all.” A viable point for sure. The task of being active on all channels can be overwhelming. It’s better to be all in on the one platform that you enjoy and that offers the most opportunity for your business versus giving half-effort on all platforms.
  4. Those who are anti-social media. “Social media is ruining ” “People only post what they want others to see.” I admit there is truth in these points, and we do have to be disciplined in our intake of social media (and technology in general), but don’t completely discount it. Missions, visions, values, hope, awareness, communities, and more develop and grow from the pure presence of social media.
  5. Those who get it and see the opportunity. Most of us are active in some type of social media personally, but today, businesses (and business leaders) can use social media to build relationships with customers. Businesses should focus on providing value to these customers. Brands aren’t a logo you see. Brands are more human than ever. The time to build those relationships is now, and Snapchat is your next big opportunity.


Being a daily user of the application has allowed me to learn what users should and shouldn’t do, so let me share a couple of quick tips.

  1. Share snaps to “My Story.” Let those who want to tune in to your story do so, but don’t send a direct snap to someone unless you are using the snap to communicate with that person or you know it is going to provide value to that person. Forcing a snap on everyone is the new SPAM.
  2. Use your other social media platforms to let people know that you are active on Snapchat. This is the quickest way to get engaged with others on Snapchat. One method I have used is to make my “Snapcode” my profile picture on most platforms. When you open your Snapchat camera and take a picture of this Snapcode, it automatically adds the user to your follow list. This has helped spread the word that I am active on Snapchat.
  3. Let me help! Follow these instructions to follow me on Snapchat. Snap me any questions you have, and I will be happy to help you along the way.

Most importantly…don’t wait until Snapchat is 10 years old before you finally download it and join in. Download the application now. Tell your story.

Snapchat Revolution 2


Collin Austin is the COE — Chief of Everything — at New Scooters 4 Less (a Gator100, Gainesville Area Small Business of the Year, Purpose 20 and Impact Award recipient). You can reach Collin on Twitter at @realcollin, Snapchat @ns4lcollin and on Medium @collinaustin.

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