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How brands are mastering the 10-second Snapchat

You’ve heard the predictions — and seen the stats to back them up. By next year, more people will be accessing web content on a mobile device than any other channel. But to truly thrive in this era, marketers need to do more than just optimize their content for mobile; they need to integrate their mobile content with other channels — including, social media.

Snapchat is a great example of how these two channels are melding. The "burn-after-reading" text messaging service founded just over two years ago took off first among the elusive 13–25 year-old age group. Now users from other demographics are embracing the app, which sends texts that disappear within 10 seconds of being opened. The company isn't disclosing a lot about its growth, but some interesting stats emerged recently suggesting its on a meteoric trajectory:

  • More than 400 million Snapchat messages are received each day
  • 70 percent of its users are female
  • Half of all Snapchat members now use a feature called "Snapchat Stories," which allows a user to stitch together snaps that can be viewed for up to 24 hours before vanishing.

These are tempting numbers for most brands. So how can marketers take advantage of a service that primarily makes every text — or "snap" — disappear almost instantly? First, by building a Snapchat following. Marketers can only message users who have signed up to receive their snaps. A simple call-to-action is the best place to start. Know, too, that you need to be committed to your followers, just as with any social media platform. The ephemeral nature of snaps means your snaps have to be timely — and tempting enough to get a response before they vanish.

Here's a closer look at how some brands are building their following on Snapchat:

Give a sneak peek of a new product: Taco Bell

When Taco Bell set out last year to promote an upcoming addition to its menu, the fast-food giant used its Twitter account to encourage people to follow Taco Bell on Snapchat for a "secret announcement" (the Beefy Crunchy Burrito!). To date Taco Bell has sent and received 1,700 snaps.

Incentivize with giveaways: Chat Sports

Chat Sports, a seller of sporting event tickets, holds giveaways to draw more Snapchat followers. The company last year offered existing followers a chance to win tickets to a local sports game if they convinced five friends to add Chat Sports on Snapchat. Those five friends then sent a unique image to Chat Sports that included the name of the referring Snapchat friend and the hashtag #gimmetickets. Some 150 people responded within 48 hours.

Target your key audience: Karmaloop

Online fashion retailer Karmaloop has gained more than 2,000 followers by successfully playing into Snapchat’s "sexting" image and sending snaps that are on the racy side as a call to action for its key audience, the college demographic.

Send reminders: HBO

The HBO show ‘Girls’ is using Snapchat to send fans behind-the-scenes pictures, red carpet shots and reminders.

Go behind-the-scenes: New Orleans Saints

The NFL team is using Snapchat stories to give fans a look behind the scenes and to keep them updated on merchandise inventory.

Offer exclusivity: GrubHub

This online restaurant delivery service uses Snapchat to send followers special updates and exclusive deals — using some clever messaging.

Provide discounts: 16 Handles

16 Handles, a frozen yogurt chain, used Snapchat to get followers to snap themselves eating their products and offered discounts for doing so in their ‘Snappy New Year’ campaign last year.

It's safe to bet that the Snapchat platform will only grow — and that the company will look for ways to monetize it in the future. If your target audience is youthful mobile users, then Snapchat is probably worth your while.

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