With the social media landscape constantly changing, Snapchat is a relatively new addition that has proven to be an innovative way to reach consumers. While this application isn’t taking over as the next big marketing tool, it shouldn’t be ignored if it’s a good fit for your brand. In a nutshell, Snapchat is a mobile app that allows you to send picture or video messages that ‘self-destruct’ after a certain amount of time – usually less than ten seconds – after being viewed. Upon first glimpse, this doesn’t seem like a tool for marketing, but it’s gained a lot of momentum and success as one recently.

To give you an idea of how large the scope is of Snapchat, since its introduction in September of 2011, it has accrued 100 million active users and around 400 million Snapchat snaps are shared every day.

Through Snapchat’s ‘Add Friends’ feature, users can search for accounts to follow and can either directly receive private ‘Snaps’ from them or view any user’s ‘story’. For those unfamiliar with the app, the first step would be to download it and follow businesses that have already set up accounts.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re interested in using this app for your business’s marketing. Because there is a time limit on each Snap you can send, you want to make sure you’re using every second to your advantage. With so little time available, you’ll need to have an agenda and plan for each one you send. To your advantage, the time limit does create a teaser for consumers and you can use this as a prelude to an upcoming promotion or new product you’ll be offering.

As with everything, know your audience – 70% of Snapchatters are women and the majority are under the age of 25. 77% of college students use Snapchat on a daily basis. This app has a more casual feel and isn’t conducive to heavier material. It’s a fun, easy (not to mention free) way to communicate with consumers, and will go a long way in humanizing your business to them. For years, parents have been looking for a way to communicate with their teenagers. Think of Snapchat as your business’s way of doing just that.

As a photo and video sharing app, there’s clearly a heavy emphasis on creating quality visual content. You want to be as interactive as possible and find fun ways to have your customers sending you Snaps. A restaurant, for example, could have a contest where the first ten users to send a Snap of them eating at the establishment could win a gift card. For a dentist’s office, the first few users to send you a picture of their smile could win a free cleaning.

Snapchat is a relatively new tool for marketing that has the potential to be very impactful if used properly. We’re interested to see how businesses mold this to their individual brands and products. With the growing presence of social media as a marketing necessity, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Snapchat in the coming months.