For years, we’ve all heard why it’s critical for marketers to interact on Twitter.

There’s a new kid on the block today, though, and it’s called Snapchat.

The viral photo- and video-sharing service has been exploding in popularity for some time now, but it recently obtained a major milestone: it surpassed Twitter in user numbers.

While Twitter averages 136 million daily users, Snapchat recently soared to 150 million daily users – a jump with significant implications for consumers and marketers alike. Here’s what you need to know about this exciting new development.

Are You On Snapchat?

Snapchat is a mobile app and social platform of it’s own unique kind that allows users to share videos and images to a feed called “My Story.” Or, you can send your “snaps” directly to people you choose. Unlike Instagram or other popular visual sharing platforms, though, Snapchat’s twist is that videos and pictures shared on the platform can only be shared for a few seconds before they disappear from a user’s phone. Snapchat works by allowing users to add filters, write text, and draw on their photos and videos, and then send them to friends based on an in-app contact list.

And, in an attempt to broaden its offerings, Snapchat has recently begun offering Snapchat Memories (Galleries of snaps sent during a specific timeframe) and Snapchat Lenses – animations that can be added to a selfie and sent out to friends.

Ready for it?

I didn’t start using Snapchat till…drumroll…July of this year.

If you’re not familiar with Snapchat, here’s a brief intro.


How to Use Snapchat

Despite its popularity, Snapchat can be difficult to get the hang of. If you’re new, it’s likely you’ll have to use a few user guides to get an idea of how to interact with the platform. With that in mind, here’s a simple guide to help you get started:

1. Get a Snapchat account!

First things first – you’ll need to open a user account to use Snapchat’s services. To do this, head to Google and search Snapchat. Install the app. It’s free, and you’ll be on your way to snapping in just a matter of seconds. Once the app has installed, you’ll be directed to a screen that instructs you to log in or sign up. If you’re a new user, select the blue “sign up” option.

Input your e-mail address and a new password and add your birthday. You’ll also be asked to add a username (be advised that you can’t change this later so it’s smart to make it good right now), and add your mobile phone number. You’ll also be asked to input a verification code sent via text or call.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to add friends. Snapchat will browse the contacts on your phone to determine who is using Snapchat, and will then offer you the option to add them. Add the people you’re interested in adding, and then move through the push notifications wherein Snapchat asks for permission to access your microphone and camera.

Once you’ve done all of this, it’s time to start snapping.

2. Send out your first snap to My Story (or friends)

Now that you’ve got your account set up, it’s time to start snapping. After the setup of your user profile is complete, you’ll be directed to a camera screen – much like the one on your phone’s built-in camera. From here, you can take photos, add animations, insert text, and send snaps out to your friends.

The bottom left-hand icon controls the time for which the snap will be displayed (from one to 10 seconds) on the receiver’s phone, the image to its immediate right allows you to save the snap to your photos, and the box to the right of that lets you add a message to your new snap. Once you’ve altered your snap accordingly, send it out with the blue arrow on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

You’ll get to choose who you send your snap to and then will be redirected back to a screen where you can view the snap you sent.

My Story is the final feed where your snaps can go – much like a Facebook or Instagram feed, it shows to all your Snapchat friends. Below your story, you can see the stories of your other friends – their names and a circle will appear with their latest story. Alternatively, you can send snaps personally to people in your address book; choose a name instead of My Story in the final share step.

(Just don’t forget that every snap you share self-destructs in 24 hours! *enter James Bond theme*)


Why You Should Be Using Snapchat

Now that you know a little bit about how to use Snapchat, let’s talk about why you should be using Snapchat.

First of all, Snapchat is popular. According to Search Engine Journal, 26 percent of social media users between the ages of 12 and 24 report that Snapchat is their favorite social media platform.  This makes it an ideal place for marketers to connect with audiences and deliver effective marketing.

Because of this, Snapchat is a valuable place for marketers to be right now and the platform shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

In addition to the fact that Snapchat is widely used and rapidly growing, it’s also a fantastic way for brands to deliver highly personalized, targeted content to consumers. Brands like Taco Bell, Cocoa-Cola, and others, have already started using Snapchat successfully, and dozens of brands build profiles on a daily basis. This makes it a wonderful place for marketers to connect with other brands and consumers alike.

Building Your Snapchat Community

For Snapchat to be effective, it has to be social. If your goal is to use Snapchat for marketing, it’s possible you may not want to count Mom and Dad among the people you snap on a regular basis. In this instance, you’ll have to find people to follow on Snapchat. Luckily, there are several ways to do this.

Start with some of the simple Snapchat user directories and work your way into other niche-based directories. In addition to connecting you with interesting people, this approach also allows you to broaden your Snapchat horizons.

Snapchat: A Helpful Tool in Your Marketing Arsenal

While Snapchat is often overlooked by marketers, this simple platform can help you make a big splash with your followers.

By developing a profile and then using it to push simple content out to your fans, it’s easy to create a Snapchat presence and communicate your branding message across the board.