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What Exactly Is Snapchat and How to Get Started to Reach the Millennials

Social media sites and networking can be used as powerful tools to get started in business and reach a vast sea of potential customers. If there’s one social networking service that you can’t afford to not know about, it has to be Snapchat.

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This highly successful image messaging application software based on short-lived photos and videos, often with an added text or a graphical overlay on top, took the world by surprise when its CEO, Evan Spiegel rejected Facebook’s $3 billion cash acquisition offer a few years back.  He went on to say that “trading [money] for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.”  Since Facebook made their offer, Snapchat has reached an astonishing valuation of $16 billion and more than 100 million daily active users.

Why Is Snapchat Important?

You’re now probably wondering just what could possibly make this young and seemingly obscure social service so incredibly popular and who are these 100 million users, since you’ve never heard of anyone using Snapchat. So, let’s start with what Snapchat isn’t, before we dive into what it really is and how it can be used to reach millions of millennials, who are its main user base.

  • Snapchat isn’t your grandparent’s social network: one thing that makes Snapchat so appealing to the younger generation is just how different it is from Facebook. You don’t spend hours and days creating and perfecting your profile, filling dozens of questionnaires, and trying to remember what your favorite TV shows are. Instead, you just open the Snapchat app, activate the camera with a single click, and snap a picture.
  • Snapchat isn’t another digital archive of your life: not many people realize that texting was originally made popular by teenagers, who started to prefer it over calling. It was fast, quirky at times, and, mostly, very personal. Snapchat is the same, but it’s also a lot more. The pictures and videos you send to your friends last only 10 seconds after the person views them before they disappear forever. The option to save the best pictures and videos allows users to save the most memorable snaps and forget the rest.
  • Snapchat isn’t a megaphone for personal opinions: over the years, most of the publicly voiced personal opinions that can be seen on Facebook or Twitter have become cringe-worthy at best. People have gotten over reading what their friends and family members ate for dinner or who they went to the cinema with. Snapchat is making communication personal again, giving people the right tools to share their life only with their chosen friends.

This is what has helped Snapchat rank as the third most popular social app among millennials, losing only to Facebook and Instagram, according to Business Insider. One millennial described her Snapchat experience, “I send photos, videos, watch the Live stories, and use chat if someone sends me a photo or video that I want to follow up on.” She went on to add, “I send snaps at least 5 times a day, but I have friends that use it more frequently.”

Indeed, Gary Vaynerchuk, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling author, self-taught wine expert, and serial entrepreneur, said that he has not seen this much consumer attention on one social platform since early 2007 and 2008 with Twitter. “If you have 1,000 followers on Snapchat, 900 of them will watch your story,” he added.

What’s more, Snapchat is hardly even reached its peak. “[I see myself using it] even more because it’s only going to get better,” said another Snapchat user.

All of these things combined make Snapchat the hottest platform out there when it comes to business advertising and reaching out to millennials. But, as we’ve already discussed, Snapchat plays by a different set of rules than all other major social networks. You will quickly discover that a lot of what works on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram simply doesn’t work on Snapchat. The next section of this article will help you get started with Snapchat by teaching you the essential rules and principles that you need to follow.

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How to Get Started

Snapchat has its own philosophy about advertising: it’s not about the quantity that matters, but the quality. Spammy, low-quality advertising is definitely not what will sell on Snapchat. As we’ve already explained, people use Snapchat as a personal alternative Facebook or Twitter. The content you post on Snapchat has to fit in with how users naturally use the service.

  • Make it personal: the most basic way to achieve this goal is to make your snaps personal. Snapchat is a place where you should take a step back from your regular public image, loosen that tie, roll up your sleeves, and show the whole world who you really are.
  • Your openness is the greatest asset you have: many Snapchat’s most popular users have something unique that makes them interesting: they are talented artists, great comedians, extremely rich individuals with access to the kind of life most people can only dream about, or famous celebrities who live exciting lives. However, there’s one thing that they all share: their willingness to engage with their audience in a very down-to-earth manner.
  • Quality over quantity: one key to Snapchat is to share high-quality content that can stand on its own. Promotions are great, but they have to be presented in such a way that it won’t come off as a cheap move and a way how to, basically, pay people to follow your account.
  • Master the power of Stories: according to Snapchat, Stories are compilations of Snaps that create a narrative, and they honor the true nature of storytelling by appearing in chronological order with a beginning, middle and end. You can learn how to create a story here. Suffice to say that if the content you produce is great, people will want to follow your account to see what else you will post.
  • Don’t underestimate hashtags: hashtags can be very effective when it comes to generating a lot of buzz, raising awareness about some issue, or becoming a part of a larger conversation. The last mentioned can be especially effective on Snapchat, as you and your business will be perceived as part of the larger community.