Mobile marketing is becoming more and more prevalent as buyers seek instant access to offers, information and a sense of community – and using Snapchat for business seems to be the new big thing.

Snapchat is an app that allows people and brands to share images that are only viewable for a short, set period of time: up to 10 seconds on regular ‘snaps’, or 24 hours on the ’My Story’ function. Since its launch in 2012, the app has gradually grown in terms of business use – although some digital marketers at a recent event were totally clueless as to its existence!

How to use Snapchat as part of your marketing strategy

It’s fair to say that Snapchat isn’t for everyone – but if your target audience fits in the late teen to twenties category, then it’s definitely worth giving it a try. Big brands such as Costa, Toys R Us, Pandora and even politicians are using it for promotion, and charities are also starting to utilise the platform to shine a light on their cause.

As with any social media, app or digital presence, it will take time to build an audience, so you need to make sure that you add your Snapchat ID to all your other platforms to help with visibility – but the ‘instant hit’ nature of the app seems to lend itself well to creating a buzz around your business.

So how do you do it? Here are five tips to get you started…

1. Keep it simple – if you don’t have a massive budget, start off with some simple snaps that will appeal to your audience. Post pictures of staff members having fun in the office or in-store, or post images of your products, making them funny (but not inappropriate!) if you can.

2. Respect privacy – the great thing about Snapchat is that you can gain followers, but unless they add you back, you can’t see their photos or stories. This gives people the confidence to follow you while knowing they’re still retaining their privacy.

3. Offers and discounts – having an offer flash up on screen makes people more likely to react and respond quickly, and even on a 24 hour story, you’re still creating a sense of excitement and urgency when you post a ‘limited time’ deal or discount. You could even offer a deal on other channels to use as an incentive to get people to follow your Snapchat account.

4. Pay to promote – if you have the budget for it, you can reach out to thousands of users through a paid-for ad. Not cheap, but it could be worth dipping your toe in to see if it generates a return.

5. Geofilters/overlays – if you’re already a Snapchat user, you’ll probably have seen the overlays you can use to jazz up your photos and videos. You can set up (at a cost) something for your own brand or a particular campaign, which will be accessible to users in your defined location. It adds some fun, gets people talking, and most importantly, encourages them to share your business with their friends.

Remember that Snapchat allows you to send videos too and you can even add personalised filters, which can be great for promotional events, product launches and conferences.

Even at its most basic (and cheapest) you can start to build a bigger audience by using Snapchat for business: set up an account, promote it on your website and social media platforms, and see how your prospects react – you might find that you’re pleasantly surprised at the results!