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Snapchat for Small Business: Consider 3 Key Factors

This story originally appeared on PR Daily

Consumers are making a huge social shift from to .

The migration to the popular self-destructing photo/video social network is happening right before our eyes.

Snapchat is a multifunctional app: People use it to communicate one to one, one to few, and one to all. They share moments, not just pretty pictures, through stills and videos with added captions, doodles and filters to make them even more fun and personal.

The social shift is official when most consumers ask followers on all their other networks to join them on a newer or more popular social network.

When this shift starts, I recommend that prepare a for that up-and-coming network. The first movers will dominate and connect with their consumers faster than their competitors will. Social-savvy small- people know that taking advantage of social media to market their products and services can be a cost-effective way to drive sales and consumer engagement.

Using Snapchat as a marketing tool goes against everything you’ve learned about marketing from the dawn of time, which is creating repetition and staying in front of a potential customer as long as possible. On Snapchat, you have a limited amount of time for your to see your promotion before it disappears forever.

Before you dive head first into Snapchat, please do your due diligence as you would with any other marketing strategy. Here are three factors to consider in determining whether your is ready to make the shift:

1. Your target audience

Does your small business’s target audience align with Snapchat’s user demographic? Snapchat’s demographic is users ages 16 to 24, but I predict this age range will drastically shift to 18 to 40 as more people migrate from Instagram to Snapchat over the next 12 months. Snapchat already has more than 24 million adults using the social network.

If your target audience falls within the former span, then you’re right on time to take advantage of the social network before it gets overcrowded with your competitors. If it falls within the latter, you should still take advantage of Snapchat, but with a planned, more gradual rollout.

Your main focus should be on learning from other brands while getting your team familiar with the channel. This could be an upside for your business as you have more time to plan a strategic approach to using Snapchat to engage with your established customer base and attracting new customers.

2. Real-time readiness

Do you want your small business to engage with your customers in a new, interactive and fun way? You’ve already mastered , Instagram, and others; now it’s time to experiment with Snapchat.

One of the earliest adopters of this channel was 16 Handles, the first brand to create and execute a marketing campaign using Snapchat.

Its “Snappy New Year” campaign urges the company’s Facebook fans to send a Snapchat photo of themselves or friends at their stores to the company’s Snapchat. In return, participants got a coupon for anywhere from 16 percent to 100 percent off a purchase. They had to use Snapchat to access and redeem the coupon while at the register.

This promotion kept fans actively engaged with 16 Handles, and it gave customers an incentive to visit again and spend more money. As an early adopter, 16 Handles did it right. Imagine the possibilities of what your business can accomplish using Snapchat now.

3. Time

Do you have enough time to invest in a channel that can overhaul the way you drive new sales to your business? Snapchat requires time and dedication to develop cool, fun and creative content.

Snapchat users now send 700 million snaps per day and view 1 billion stories per day. Stories are a Snapchat function that enables users to share snaps with all of their followers. Snaps in stories endure for 24 hours instead of a few seconds.

According to a Cowen social media user survey, on average, Snapchat’s U.S. Internet users age 18 and older spend 17 minutes per day with the service. Compare that with 17.1 minutes spent per day on Twitter and 21.2 minutes per day on Instagram.

Existing and potential consumers are already using this outlet to engage with their friends. If you want to succeed on Snapchat, you have to dedicate time to develop content that will get noticed in those 17 minutes.

Not many companies are using Snapchat yet. If you start using it now, you will find your Snapchat voice by the time competitors try to learn how to use it, and you’ll already have experience using the latest Snapchat features, engaging with your customers and creating amazing promotions for your small business.

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