Snapchat is a relatively new and confusing platform for marketing specialists who have never before used it or are unsure of its potential value. The overarching questions seem to be, “can a brand really make an impression in an image or video that appears for 10 seconds or less?” “How can the effectiveness of this marketing be measured?” Or, “Is 10 seconds enough?” Well, Snapchat might not be for everyone at this point, but it definitely has advantages for certain brands.

Many social media platforms have become a way for advertisers to continuously insert themselves into people’s everyday lives. Facebook features advertisements in the sidebar and banner at the top and now has incorporated ads into people’s newsfeeds. These new promoted ads often disguise themselves as organic posts, but they are extremely targeted based on interests and demographics. Twitter uses “disguised” promoted ads as tweets too. Instagram has also begun to let brands buy space on their user’s feeds to feature their products and promote brand recognition.

Snapchat, until now, was one of the last platforms for people to experience social media completely ad free. However, Snapchat still allows users to decide how they want to use the platform. Just because a brand exists on Snapchat, doesn’t mean it’s automatically seen by users. Consumers have the choice to decide what brands they add as Snapchat “friends” and which brands they would rather not be bothered by. This means that brands are reaching a highly focused audience of people incredibly interested in the brand and the story they have to tell. Although Snapchat has begun partnering with brands to provide daily stories, these are still optional and allow viewers the choice to watch them or simply ignore the stories.

Snapchat also allows brands to hold their consumers complete focus for up to ten seconds! While that doesn’t sound like much, it’s amazing in today’s society to hold focus for that long. With the average American’s attention span hovering just over 8 seconds, 10 full seconds dedicated to advertising is astounding. Consumers are constantly exposed to so many stimuli throughout their day, it’s rare that anyone is ever focusing 100% of their attention on one thing at a time. Snapchat’s unique disappearing act actively makes consumers focus, or they could miss important information.

The most difficult part of Snapchat for most businesses is finding and creating their audience. However, if your business has an active and engaged audience on other social media platforms, it’s easy to leverage them to build your Snapchat audience. The key to being engaging on Snapchat is to have a story to tell that can’t be told on other social media. Taco Bell does a particularly great job of using Snapchat to let fans in on secret deals or new releases before announcing them on Instagram or Twitter.

Another thing that makes Snapchat marketing unique is the highly targeted demographic it reaches. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and, more recently, Instagram, Snapchat has yet to be infiltrated by parents and other older demographics. For now, Snapchat is the front-running social media platform for youth ages 13-25. This condensed demographic means Snapchat isn’t the best social media for all brands.