Originally published Mar 10, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Topics: Most of us have learned by now that we should be using Snapchat. We know it’s popular among teens and millennials. We know visual, ephemeral content performs well.What we may not be as clear on is how to grow our audience on Snapchat — and how to keep them engaged.Download our free Snapchat guide to learn how to use it for your business. It’s a challenge to grow a new social media audience from scratch — and to do it well. And unlike Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, discoverability is a challenge on Snapchat. There’s no news feed where Snapchat users can share cool content with their friends. There’s no trending tab to see what other users are Snapping about. So how do you grow your audience?Snaplytics provides account management and analytics for brands using Snapchat, and it recently produced a report on how different organizations are using Snapchat. The report reveals insights about how brands are growing Snapchat followings and how exactly marketers are posting content on the platform. Let’s dive into how to ramp up your business Snapchat approach with help from data from Snaplytics.How to Achieve Snapchat Audience GrowthIn this report, Snaplytics analyzed over 500 brands, more than 24,000 Snapchat Stories, and 217,000 total snaps to determine how brands use Snapchat and what levels of engagement were achieved.Building FollowersThe bad news? There’s no quick and easy solution to gaining more followers on Snapchat. The good news? It is possible.Among the brands it analyzed, Snaplytics learned that 64% of Snapchat followers found the brand on Snapchat by searching for its username. This large percentage is the result of brands cross-promoting Snapchat accounts across other social media channels. Awareness and discovery of brand Snapchat channels happen primarily on other social channels and content assets, such as blog posts and videos.Snaplytics cites this cross-promotion as integral to growing a following on the platform and states discoverability will decline if this doesn’t happen consistently. The report also advocates publishing external content bearing brands’ Snapcodes — unique QR codes that allow Snapchat users to follow accounts by simply opening the app and scanning the code. Here’s what ours looks like:Snaplytics found Snapcodes made up 25% of new Snapchat follower acquisition, so marketers should share and promote their brands’ Snapcodes to cross-promote Snapchat accounts on other web assets.Source: SnaplyticsOnce brands earn new followers on Snapchat, marketers can expect 54.8% of them to watch Snapchat Stories every time the brand posts. That’s a lot of engagement. Marketers should maintain a cross-promotion strategy to encourage existing social media followers to follow newer channels like Snapchat. The next task is creating Snapchat content those followers will love.Optimizing Snapchat StoriesAccording to the data, there are several elements to a successful Snapchat Story marketers and creators should consider.FrequencySnapchat Stories — strings of photos and images shared on Snapchat viewable for 24 hours — should do what the name implies and tell a story. Among the 500 brands surveyed, Snaplytics found brands shared an average of 13 Stories per month, or roughly two or three Stories per week.Additionally, Snaplytics noted most Stories were shared between Wednesdays and Saturdays.Source: SnaplyticsDurationThe report shows the average Snapchat Story of the brands surveyed contained 11 snaps (images and videos) in total. It also notes the degree of variance across industries. For example, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had the longest number of snaps in Stories, and marketing and advertising brands sometimes only posted six snaps at a time.From this result, marketers can surmise that the duration of a Snapchat Story should match the subject matter. If a Snapchat Story is focused on a single product or item that can be easily told with fewer videos and images, then keep it short and sweet. If you’re interviewing people, giving a behind-the-scenes tour, or breaking down complicated topics, expand the Snapchat Story so viewers can follow along.Source: SnaplyticsContent TypeSnaplytics saw a gradual increase in brands sharing video content more than photos, and at the end of 2016, 61% of brands’ Snapchat content was comprised of videos.Just like with Snapchat Story duration, Snaplytics saw variation in the content split across industries. Industries showcasing more static products (Luxury Goods, Food & Beverage, and Fashion & Lifestyle) favored photos over videos on Snapchat. Other industries, such as NGOs, Broadcasting & Entertainment, and Beauty produced more video content on Snapchat — likely featuring interviews, demonstrations, and events better told in video format.Marketers should consider how stories should be best told for engagement and interaction on the platform. For example, here at HubSpot, we sometimes ask Snapchat followers to take a screenshot of a snap, so photos are a better choice. Other times, we demonstrate how different products work, in which cases video is the best pick.Source: SnaplyticsTesting Is KeyUltimately, Snaplytics recommends brands conduct significant testing to determine a Snapchat strategy. Snapchat Story completion rate varied widely over the course of the study, so testing different Story elements, such as content type and frequency, will help marketers fine-tune how followers want to interact with a brand.Source: SnaplyticsIn general, Snaplytics found shorter Stories led to higher completion rates (the percentage of viewers who watched a brand’s Snapchat Story from start to finish). But even still, only about 55% of Snapchat followers watched brands’ Stories in the first place, so testing and re-testing strategies to attract and engage new followers is key.Learn more about what Snaplytics learned from the yearlong study by downloading this report, and when you’re ready for more ideas for a successful brand Snapchat strategy, check out our free guide.What strategies have brought you success on Snapchat? Share with us in the comments below. Snapchat Marketing Don’t forget to share this post!