If you've got a teenager in your house, chances are they're on Snapchat.
My daughter is no exception. She uses Snapchat, in fact almost exclusively, to communicate with her friends. She spends her evenings and weekends "snapping" away, taking selfies and creating video stories that she uploads, which sometimes disappear into the digital ether as quickly as they are created.
If you're anything like me as a parent, it might be hard to wrap your head around Snapchat. I adopted the platform because I wanted to be able to engage with my daughter on her level, through a medium that's meaningful to her. We now share stories and selfies, keeping in touch throughout the day in a way we've never experienced through other platforms.
In a way, she and her friends have become my mini-focus group, opening my eyes to the power of the platform.
Early forecasters predicted Snapchat would be the single most important platform for brands to pay attention to in 2016. It's a post-millennial mainstay, just as Facebook was 12 years ago and as Twitter and Instagram continue to be.
Once dismissed as a platform for sharing naughty pictures that supposedly disappeared in a matter of seconds, the proof of Snapchat's staying power is in the numbers: Snapchat's 100 million plus daily users now watch eight billion videos per day.
So, why aren't brands getting on board with Snapchat? It's probably because they don't understand it. But fear of this unknown won't do you any favours because Snapchat is here to stay, and the brands who embrace it will have a leg up with key demographics who live and breathe for the latest snaps.
Advertising on Snapchat is in its infancy, and while many brands have been slow to adopt the platform, it is a nascent playground where brands can test and learn, fail fast, and – if they are successful – possibly help shape the way advertising plays out on the platform.
Snapchat has built a loyal user base by being fundamentally user-unfriendly. As a recent article from Bloomberg notes, "If you're new to the app and looking for posts by your kid, your boyfriend, or DJ Khaled (the Snapchat King), good luck."
Snapchat's founders have purposefully made it hard to find people on the platform (no embarrassing moments like when your parents friend you on Facebook). Snapchat is about personal moments, not about public display.
This is why brands have shied away from it so far. It's misunderstood. It may at first appear to be user-unfriendly. If we don't get it, it must not be important. I talk to a lot of the industry's leading marketers, and only a handful of them are on Snapchat. This needs to change.
The fact of the matter is, more than 60 per cent of 12 to 34 year-old smartphone users are Snapchatters. This demographic loves the platform because it provides an incredibly personal window into the way your peers see the world, and the stories are in real time, expiring in 24 hours. Snaps are a reflection of who you are in the moment, where there is no need to curate a lasting image.
Progressive brands are just starting to use Snapchat to advertise – according to Bloomberg, PepsiCo, Amazon.com, Marriott International and Budweiser paid more than $1-million to have their ads appear within Snapchat's Super Bowl coverage for the first time last month. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner, DJ Khaled and Justin Bieber are turning their lives into unedited reality shows through 10-second Snap stories, each with millions of engaged followers.
In an era where TV ratings are down, especially for the millennial and post-millennial generations, Snapchat is here to pick up where TV ratings have left off. Snapchat is now the biggest mobile video platform, with a massive audience that offers intimacy at scale for curated content.
Last week, Snapchat struck a deal with Nielsen to track ad performance with data, signalling to brands that the platform is getting serious about advertising and so should your brand.
I'm fortunate to have a teenager in the house, keeping me up to date on what mediums are truly breaking through with the next generation of consumers. As a marketer, it's not good enough to just keep doing more of the same; brands need to be fully aware of the changing behaviours of the next generation and experimenting with new and emerging platforms, or risk being left behind.
Mia will be speaking at The Globe Small Business Summit, an upcoming conference that brings together business leaders who are growing their companies. Other speakers include Harley Finkelstein from Shopify and Bruce Poon Tip from G Adventures.