Snapchat and the golden opportunity for travel marketingNews / Technology | OnlineBy Viewpoints | June 17, 2015Share This article was originally published on Snapchat was the fastest growing phone application of 2014. And with 120 million active users sending over a billion snaps per day, the app is poised to grow bigger and faster in the coming years.NB: This is a guest article by Drew Goldberg, founder of the travel blog The Hungry Partier.But wait… I know what you’re already thinking. Isn’t Snapchat just for teenagers to send naked selfies that disappear?Share this quote Well, yes, to an extent. And that’s what probably contributed to Snapchat’s early success since its launch back in 2011.But over the years, the app has evolved to appeal to a much larger demographic (my mom already has Snapchat), and now you are able to post quality content to a global audience.If you don’t know what Snapchat is, or are clueless to how it works, then here is a quick overview:Snapchat is a photo messaging application, where users can take photos and videos (called snaps) and send them to a controlled audience.On any snap that you take, you’re allowed to draw pictures with your finger on the screen, type up to 35 characters, and/or use fun emojis if you choose.You are also required to set a time limit (from 1-10 seconds) for how long the recipient can view each snap you send.The app works in two ways: The user can send a snap to their close friends - like a text - but the snap will disappear forever after the recipient opens it.The user can upload a snap to their Snap Story, which can be viewed by a larger audience. In Snap Story, each snap is available to view for exactly 24 hours before disappearing forever.How is Snapchat different from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?The one feature that sets Snapchat apart from the other big social media players is the complete privacy aspect. There is no sharing, liking, or commenting – and there isn’t a running stream of content on display.Also, user-engagement levels are much higher on Snapchat, because the viewer’s finger must be touching the screen at all times to view the snap, or else it will just disappear. You can track how many users have opened your snap by looking at the metrics available.The fact that the snap disappears is what makes the app so exciting, because what you are viewing is practically live and only available to see once before tuning into a memory.Snap Story was introduced in late 2013, and it is essential to utilize if you want to build a following and market your brand.You can use your Snap Story to upload photos and videos in a narrative-like fashion. It’s intended to be fun and exciting, and it’s a great way to connect with your audience.Use myself as an example. Being a travel blogger, I’ve had enormous success using Snapchat to build up my brand and followers. I post 10-15 snaps per day, documenting my travels around the world. I share things that are interesting and I encourage others to snap me back with their travel questions and thoughts.Over the past two months, I’ve gained more than 3,000 followers by using specific strategies, which I will describe later on.But it’s not only travel bloggers that can effectively promote their brand on Snapchat. Companies such as ESPN, MTV, Taco Bell, National Geographic, The Daily Mail, Disneyland and tons more have had success using Snapchat to connect with their audience.Let’s dig in deeper, and investigate how National Geographic, Daily Mail and Disneyland uses Snapchat to market effectively.National Geographic has turned to Snapchat to post interesting content, articles and photos about travel and adventure. They host "Snapchat Quizzes", where they ask questions and encourage their followers to snap back the answers. The company typically publishes 5 snaps per day around 8AM EST, so people can wake up and check early in the morning.It says about Snapchat: "We think it’s a great platform to reach new audiences. It puts us in front of a great group of young people and gives us a chance to speak to our strengths in photography, video and social."Share this quote The Daily Mail posts exclusive videos and content on Snapchat with animations, music and sound effects. They choose to post around 3PM, because that’s when schools usually let out (their target audience).The Daily Mail's North American CEO (and former Buzzfeed president) Jon Steinberg says: "Among the pantheon of platforms, Snapchat is the closest thing to a cable network. There’s actual programming involved here."Share this quote Disneyland uses Snapchat to showcase activities in their theme park. It has had success playing games and asking for their audience to participate.For example, on Christmas Day, it asked its fans to draw and design a tacky sweater, send it back to them to Snapchat. It chose its favourites and reposted in its Snap Story for everyone to view.Quick tips to build a followingStart by following big influencers to get ideas and learn strategiesUse your current social media channels to bring people over to your SnapchatBe creative and post exclusive content that your followers want to seeBe consistent by strategically timing out your postsPlay games and offer prizes to your followers who snap back Just have fun with it!NB: This is a guest article by Drew Goldberg, founder of the travel blog The Hungry Partier. His Snapchat account is @drewbinsky.NB2: Snapchat image via Shutterstock.