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With 1.55 billion monthly active users and daily views exceeding 7 billion, Snapchat has almost caught up with the leader of the social pack, Facebook, who at the last count has 1.59 billion monthly active users.

SnapchatAccording to recent research conducted in America, 77% of college students use Snapchat daily and 58% are likely to purchase a brand’s products or services if they received a coupon on Snapchat. So the message is clear – you need to start using Snapchat if younger people are part of your target market.

Although the exponential growth is great for Snapchat and its users, it has left many marketers struggling to keep up, unsure of how to build a presence on the platform and connect with their customers.

Like all things, the first step for aspiring Snapchat users is to understand the basics. It is a mobile photo-sharing app that allows users to take photos and short videos that remain viewable to users for 10 seconds – after that the Snap disappears, never to be seen again. More recently, Snapchat added a number of new features including live text, chat and video calls between contacts, which helped increase its following (mainly young people aged 18-25).

Once you’ve mastered the basics, follow these top five tips to reach Snapchat Nirvana.

  1. Tell a story

Telling engaging stories is the foundation to a being successful Snapchatter. All of the Snaps, whether it’s photos or videos, are saved to your “Story,” with each clip following each other in chronological order. Your Story will last for 24 hours, and differing from a Snap you send to an individual, a Story can be viewed more than once… although the platform did bring in a feature allowing users to replay a snap sent to them, this privilege can only be used once in a day – so don’t go wasting it!

As Snaps last for only 10 seconds, it is imperative that you keep your content short and snappy and most importantly, engaging. The more creative you get with your Story, the longer people will stay viewing it, instead of clicking off to watch someone else they follow.

  1. Tease tease tease

Snapchat is the ideal platform for building hype for new products and services – small teaser snaps with bite sized info will get your followers excited about new releases, leaving them wanting more. For example, you can post short product demos and ask for instant feedback. Treat it like a focus group if you will. As the content will only be live for 24 hours, it helps generate a buzz and stimulates conversations beyond the social platform.

  1. Go behind the scenes

People are naturally inquisitive and Snapchat is a great way to take people behind the scenes of your business in a fun and relaxed way. A good way to do this is to rotate the Snapchat account around a trusted group of employees who work across different departments, sharing their perspective along the way.

  1. Drive traffic

Although this has been disputed by some marketers, Snapchat can drive traffic to both your website and store. As noted above, 58% of college students would buy from a company if they received some kind of promotional offer or discount via Snapchat. Businesses quite often use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to host giveaways and competitions and Snapchat should be added to the list.

  1. Join the debate

In addition to a users’ individual Story, you can also add your 10 seconds of content to Story themes generated by Snapchat. There is usually a story for big cities, e.g. Edinburgh, London, New York and also special events taking place around the world. By contributing to these Stories, you are accessing a much wider audience and leveraging your opportunity to gain more followers. This will you increase your brand’s visibility on Snapchat and other platforms.

By Lara Gilchrist, guest blogger Tuminds Social Media