It has been said that, “LinkedIn is for the people you know. Facebook is for the people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.” Then where does that leave places like Instagram and Snapchat?

Snapchat is for people who don’t want to obsess over social media posts.

Snapchat lets users send “snaps” to individuals, or share with their entire audience through the “stories” feature. No matter where you post your snaps, they won’t stay long as these snippets just stick around for 10 seconds (stories stay for 24 hours.)

This form of impermanent sharing has helped Snapchat to become one of the world’s large social networks, amassing more than 200 million monthly active users since 2011. That may sound somewhat dismal in comparison to Facebook’s 1.6 billion users, but the site is actually the fastest growing social network of all time. In an infographic compiled by WebpageFX, Snapchat is compared against other social giants and is proven to out-pace its competition in the first four years of each site’s existence.

Snapchat also has some of the most active and engaged users on all of social media; 50 percent of its total user base, or 100 million individuals, are daily users of the site sharing more than 400 million snaps per day. The app is also massively popular among up-and-coming generations as Snapchat ranks within the top three social platforms for teens and 60 percent of U.S. based 13- to 34-year-old Smartphone users are present on the site. Moreover, more than two-thirds of college students are also daily “snappers.”

Immense user growth. The next generation of social users. Stunning engagement. All of this information illuminates Snapchat as the next big thing in social media, despite the fact that most brands and small businesses have not been able to wrap their heads around how to leverage it. There aren’t any plausible tools for marketing your company – yet.

Utilizing social media as a small business always lies in potential. So let’s look at the potential of Snapchat to reach the exact audience you’re after, in a unique and engaging way.

Brands That Get the Picture

There is still plenty of time for your brand to become an “early adopter” of Snapchat, as most are unable to see its value right here and now. That window is growing smaller by the day, however, so if you’re feeling the calling, dive in fast. Some major companies have already made their way over to the visual sharing platform and are prospering from their efforts. Brands like Gatorade, Pepsi, and GE took to Snapchat to help advertise the Super Bowl.

Taco Bell has been using Snapchat’s model of impermanence to its advantage, where most view this as a hindrance. They leverage timely snaps to target demographics like college students with odd sleeping schedules and a bad case of the munchies. Posts made late at night when no other restaurants are open have proven to big hit for the fast food chain.

Snapchat’s disappearing posts can be leveraged for more than just food, of course; you just need to get a bit creative with your offerings.

Social Self-Esteem

We already know that sites like Facebook and Twitter can be pretty unhealthy, contributing to depression, jealousy, bitterness, and low self-esteem due to making comparisons about someone’s own life to the “highlight reel” of moments others post to social. Snapchat probably produces similar effects, right? Not likely.

In a study from researchers at the University of Michigan, the social media habits of students were evaluated and subsequently interviewed about their moods. The findings showed that of any major social platforms included, Snapchat produced the most satisfying and pleasurable interactions. So what’s Snapchat’s secret?

The study’s lead author, Joseph Bayer, noted that “Since Facebook has become a space for sharing crafted big moments such as babies, graduations and birthdays, Snapchat seems to provide users with a distinct space for sharing the small moments,” and that the posts shared are less “self-presentational” meaning that there is far less concern if the pictures shared are unattractive or conceited.

It would seem that Snapchat users produce more of an authentic experience when compared to other social platforms. That makes a powerful place for brands to meet their audience in the light of truth as well.

Snapchat in the News

Much like how Google, Twitter, and Facebook are getting into the news and publishing game with efforts such as “Instant Articles,” Snapchat has brought its own network of media partners to the table to compete. Snapchat’s “Discover” is a section of the platform reserved for select media companies such as BuzzFeed, Vice, CNN, National Geographic, and others. Daily Mail US CEO, Jon Steinberg, reported that the company’s Snapchat channels received, “hundreds of thousands if not millions of viewers each day.” 

Additionally, Cosmopolitan’s Discover channel generated an average of 19 million views per month, Poynter reports. CEO of BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti, has stated that Snapchat accounts for roughly 21 percent of the company’s total traffic. These are some pretty incredible numbers considering that Discover has only been around for a little over a year.

Stellar growth metrics, young adopters of the platform, crazy amounts of engagement, major brands opting-in, and positive interactions; it’s clear that Snapchat is on the rise to dominance with potential to one day overthrow Instagram and the currently crumbling Twitter.

Break free the habit of joining social networks only after they have been overrun by brands and marketers. Now is the time to seize the opportunity that Snapchat provides by becoming an early adopter and claiming your stake before the channel becomes overly crowded and noisy. The site is still largely devoid of corporate presences, so your chances of success are much higher now than they will be in the years, or months, to come.