snapchatIn this fast-paced digital world, there’s always some network or app deemed “the next big thing.” Right now, it’s Snapchat.  The real-time picture messaging application has garnered much buzz in the past few months and seen extraordinary growth – over 150 million photos are currently “snapchatted” each day.

So what exactly is it? Snapchat allows users to snap pictures or videos, add captions, and send them to friends. The average age demographic of users is 13 to 25. The unique feature is time – the shared item will last no longer than 10 seconds before disappearing.

The idea of “temporary social media” has revolutionary potential. While parents and media were initially up in arms about the link to teens “sexting,” the app is actually meant as more of a silly, illustrative way to text. On the site, it’s described as being “about the moment, a connection between friends.” The quick existence is perfect for fleeting attention spans.

Snapchat gives the user control by providing options as to how long the message recipient can see the picture or video. The fact that it is not posted anywhere or held in a network history or timeline anywhere appeals to those who worried about the privacy of Facebook or Instagram. Users are also notified if others take a screenshot of their chat.

Of course, mobile expansion also lends to Snapchat’s growing popularity. By the end of this year, there will be more mobile devices than humans – increasing from 6.8 billion to 7.4 billion devices. Available for iOS and Android users, Snapchat is an anywhere, on-the-go social connection.

The mobile application is still very new in terms of brand adopters. Taco Bell, however, may set the stage for future Snapchat crusaders. They recently tweeted that they joined Snapchat – and would be sending out a “secret announcement” to all users who added them on it. The Snapchat announcement turned out to be a picture promoting the return of the Beefy Crunch Burrito.

taco bell snapchat

Tech Crunch reports that: “This is the first major brand to use Snapchat to reach customers, and could signal the beginning of Snapchat’s monetization.”

Another way in which Snapchat could monetize is through advertising. The brief messages would hold a quickly captive audience – by way of a five second ad every ten chats, for instance.

The messaging application can further involve brands by letting them send ads or chats to all users, regardless of their settings. Currently, the two setting options as to who can send users snaps are: my friends or everyone.  The fact that Taco Bell asked users to add them as a friend first means that they are playing by the rules – for now. We’ll stay tuned as possible snap ads or other features toward monetization are rolled out.

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