If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the ever-changing social media landscape, we get it. The good news is that Snapchat, the latest platform to share your story, is also the most casual of all and it’s still in early days (read: you’re not late to the party…yet). The bad news is that you need to get on board asap. Here’s why.

1. IT’S HAPPENING.
Formerly a messaging platform best known for, ahem, sexting, today Snapchat is the fastest-growing social media network out there, with some pretty astounding statistics behind it—100 million daily users and more than 7 billion videos viewed daily.

Yes, joining yet another platform is a daunting task, but if you consider yourself a lasting brand, this is the network you need to be a part of.

2. THESE ARE YOUR PEOPLE
Need another statistic? More than 60-percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users are also Snapchatters. That’s right, the most sought after demographic in the country is flocking—by the millions—to Snapchat.

To help us navigate the ins and out of this unchartered territory, we talked to ClassPass’ own social media manager Cara Friedman. “Yes, you can reach Millennials [through Snapchat], but you’re also just guaranteed a younger audience in general,” she explains. “That post-college, 25- to 35-year-old range is a very coveted market, especially for fitness experts. On social media, you should go where your people are, and they are spending less time on Facebook and Twitter, and they are migrating to Snapchat. As a brand you need to stay with the trends to ensure that you’re relevant—and Snapchat is what’s relevant right now.”

3. IT’S A NO-FRILLS TESTING GROUND
A big plus for Snapchat users is how relaxed the platform is. In fact, if you try too hard with your posts, they’re likely to fall flat, as it’s not what the audience wants. Whereas Facebook and Instagram have essentially become brand portfolios for businesses, boasting polished photography and highly curated videos, Snapchat is the opposite. First off, the content disappears. Direct “snaps” are gone after one viewing (unless your recipient took a screengrab), while “stories” last only 24 hours, and then they, too, disappear. Secondly, your posts are expected to be raw and gritty and totally unplanned.

“Snapchat isn’t meant to be precious like Instagram and Facebook, where you’re very thoughtful and put strategy and time into your posts,” says Friedman. “With Snapchat, it disappears within 24 hours, so you have to do it on the fly and you can’t heavily edit. The content is about being so real and in the moment and having fun. The expectations are totally different, nobody’s expecting an image from Instagram. From a branding perspective, you can test things out, and if people don’t respond it’s okay, because it disappears.”

4. YOU CAN KEEP DEVELOPING YOUR BRAND
While your branding is likely on lockdown on the other social networks, Snapchat is a place where you can be a bit more playful—and where you can cull immediate learnings from your audience. “In terms of it being scalable, it’s a place of experimentation,” says Friedman. “Your posts should be about asking questions to see if your followers respond. Make it fun. It should be less ‘this is what I’m doing now,’ and more about using it as a place to tell a story where you don’t need a professional designer.”

Celebrities and businesses are known for their behind-the-curtain posts, as they give followers a sneak peek into the lifestyle behind the brand. Friedman recommends passing the account around to instructors to showcase different faces of the company, filming snippets of a new class you might be rolling out or showcasing how you create a playlist, all while soliciting feedback and encouraging an open conversation between you and your followers.

5. GUARANTEED ENGAGEMENT
Another Snapchat bonus? The direct conversation that occurs with your audience. “What’s nice about Snapchat is that you’re guaranteed a view if you send out a snap, as opposed to other networks where the tracking is based on impressions—maybe they saw it, maybe they didn’t,” says Friedman. “It’s a very personalized way of saying someone went out of their way and saw this. It’s a very real connection.”

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