This Brand Hired a 16-Year-Old to Build Its Following On Snapchat

Teen Retailer Wet Seal Becomes the Latest to Test the Waters On Snapchat

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Teen retailer Wet Seal became the latest brand to try marketing on Snapchat when it handed over control of its new account on the ephemeral messaging service to a 16-year-old beauty vlogger for two days.

Following in the footsteps of Snapchat early adopters like 16 Handles, Taco Bell, Acura and the New Orleans Saints, Wet Seal created an account on the service last month. In order to get it off the ground with some actual followers, Wet Seal enlisted the services of Meghan Hughes, who goes by MissMeghanMakeup in the digital realm. She has 200,000 YouTube subscribers, 49,000 Twitter followers and 101,000 Instagram followers.

Snap posted by MissMeghanMakeup to Wet Seal's followers
Snap posted by MissMeghanMakeup to Wet Seal's followers

"We wanted to be thoughtful about how we could exponentially increase our reach, so we partnered with an influencer in the teen space," said Leslie Hall, president at Wet Seal's digital agency ICED Media.

Ms. Hughes, 16, manned the Wet Seal account during the weekend before Christmas and created a Snapchat "story" documenting those two days of her life. Unlike "snaps," which are sent from one user to another, stories can be stitched together from multiple snaps and broadcasted to a larger audience. They appear in the friends list section of the app beside the handles of the people who posted them. The snaps within them stay visible for 24 hours and can be replayed as often as someone likes in that window.

She added upwards of 15 snaps to the story -- each of which expired after 24 hours -- in the course of the weekend, including scenes of making Christmas cookies, playing with her dog, a light show and outfits of the day that incorporated Wet Seal pieces.

Her efforts resulted in 9,000 new followers and 6,000 views of the story -- metrics which Snapchat provided, according to Ms. Hall. She added that the company's partnerships team had provided guidance on posting best practices and had secured the profile name, WetSeal, for the brand.

Snapchat didn't respond to a request for comment on its participation.

While 6,000 video views is hardly a big number for a national retailer, Ms. Hall said that the exposure the content got relative to the small number of followers the account had -- just 2,000 of them when Ms. Hughes began her takeover -- was encouraging.

Ms. Hughes -- who also works with Clean & Clear -- said she was surprised by the enthusiasm from her fan base, which she describes as comprised largely of girls between 8 and 14 years old who want to learn about makeup and fashion. She said she received hundreds of snaps from them while she manned the Wet Seal account. Though the volume was daunting at times, she responded as much as she could with selfies that she scribbled the fan's name on.

"I don't really see my audiences unless I have a meetup or see people outside at the mall or something," she said. "But being able to open the Snapchats and see [fans] get so excited was so, so cool."

Since Ms. Hughes's takeover ended, Wet Seal has been sending snaps to its new followers, posting content like an image of two girls wearing shorts and a maxi dress, but not on a daily basis.

The brand has been trying to "lightly promote that we are on Snapchat" via other social channels, according to Wet Seal's VP-marketing and e-commerce Christine MacGregor.

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