How 16 Handles scoops out cool content on Snapchat

FroYo monger 16 Handles was on Snapchat back when most adults assumed it was for sexting.

Back in 2013, 16 Handles asked Snapchat users to snap them a photo of them tasting its yogurt in exchange for a coupon. (Users had to open the snap at the register since it would disappear in 10 seconds.) The effort was heralded as the first brand to use the app.

The frozen yogurt chain is whittling down the number of social platforms it uses in a bid to focus on what really works, and Lara Nicotra, marketing manager is calling Snapchat her “2016 thing.”

It makes sense: The brand’s main focus is millennial females, between the ages of 18 and 34, and mostly in an urban demographic. (It’s not kids, although the brand says it doesn’t really market to them but also doesn’t really exclude them.) That’s explains suggestive ad copy, like “Let’s spoon,” its tagline for its February fro-yo flavor of the month.

Snapstories from @Love16Handles
Snapstories from @Love16Handles

16 Handles operates with a small team and on a small budget, which is what makes its approach to social relatively unique. The brand starts each day with a meeting where Nicotra’s team is asked by founder Solomon Choi to brush up on “industry stuff.” That means, for example, finding out about new social platforms or new features on older ones. “We try to have this sense of curiosity” said Nicotra.

But curiosity can also be a problem: For example, 16 Handles was one of the first brands to get onto Kik in late 2014 in a bid to reach teen customers where they were. The brand generated 27,000 interactions with a small amount of paid media behind it in the first few days, but then the app waned — and with it, the brand’s traction. “That was one of our possible failures,” admits Nicotra.

This year, the brand plans to focus on Snapchat Stories — longer Snapchats that stick around for 24 hours — that will work hand-in-hand with the company’s refurbished content calendar. “In the past, it was just ‘let’s give people cool access to our brand’,” said Nicotra. “Now, it’s a commitment.”

The brand will peg stories to certain times of the day, such as that post-snack 3 p.m. sugar rush. And Nicotra wants to try and focus Snapstories on content that will last longer and “talk to” what’s happening in-store. “It’s a full time job.”

Nicotra declined to disclose how many followers the brand has on Snapchat, but as it focuses on the platform, she said, 16 Handles has decided to stop using other platforms, including Tumblr and Pinterest. Her interest in using Twitter as a paid platform has also waned. Like other brands, Nicotra said she isn’t seeing the returns, even though Twitter says it has many programs for brands with brick-and-mortar retail presences.

“We’ve seen a big dropoff on Twitter,” she said. Instagram, understandably, still works, since pictures of pretty frozen yogurt do well for its target demographic. The brand has seen a 36 percent increase in Instagram followers to 15,000 in the last year.