For those who don't know, and if you're under 40 you likely don't, I'm about to explain what Snapchat is.

Snapchat is a Smartphone application that allows users to send photos or short videos to another user. But with Snapchat messages, they disappear after viewing--usually in just a few seconds--so they can't be forwarded or saved.

For most people--this seems like the perfect 'sexting' application (if you don't know what 'sexting' is, I can't really help you there). It offers total, immediate disclosure without the fear of permanency or public embarrassment that other forms of intimate sharing carry.

Fine.

But is Snapchat a business tool?

Many would say no. I say yes.

The naysayers will say Snapchat's perceived use for racy photos and intimate moments makes it an inappropriate forum for businesses. They are also likely to say that, because it's impossible to save or keep a message, it's not ideal for building brand or sharing--in fact, it can't be shared.

I say Snapchat is a business tool because in today's business and communications environment, nearly everything is a tool. Or at least it should be. And smart businesses will find ways to use services such as and including Snapchat or their competition will.

But that's rhetoric. Here are real reasons why you should explore Snapchat for your business. If you decide it's not right for you, great. But don't rule it out before you know more.

It's where customers are. One group of customers in particular--millennials. In case you or your marketing team is living under a rock, the millennial demographic is the holy grail of advertising. If these younger, tech-immersed cohorts aren't your customers now, they soon will be.

And among millennials, Snapchat is bigger and more popular than Twitter. Chances are that you'd fire a public relations firm that suggested your company not be on Twitter but up until now you've been content to overlook Snapchat.

Moreover, according to a study of Snapchat users conducted by the University of Washington, Snapchat isn't (just) for sexting. According to that study, the largest share of Snapchat users send "funny" images or videos of what they see or what they and their friends are doing.

But how do you build brand awareness on a temporary medium?

The old way of thinking about brand awareness was repetition. Relentless and consistent. But new brands prioritize softer attributes such as authenticity and humor over repetition. For that, Snapchat is tailor made. What's more authentic than a company engaging with consumers in a way that is missing most of the traditional and fatal branding stamps?

Do you think a short Snapchat video of your CEO playing Halo in the conference room would be interesting to a younger audience? A VP sleeping in an office meeting? The HR Director's bad tie or haircut? Scenes such as these are the coin-of-the-realm in brand marking these days--the way for you and your brand to be "not that guy." And Snapchat's temporary nature is the perfect place for such less-than-serious messaging.

My Business Partner and Chief Operating Officer, Vlad Moldavskiy (who is twenty-three by the way) adds, "I use snapchat with my friends to send them instant, exciting updates from my day-to-day at the office. It gets my large network of followers excited about what we are doing at Mabbly and it connects them to the brand."

You may find it difficult to engage your senior leadership--or other company leaders--in being Snapchat fodder. Or you may decide that producing short clips or funny photos just isn't worth the marketing investment. Both are fine conclusions.

But you'd be missing the boat if you didn't at least consider Snapchat for your business and branding purposes.

Published on: Sep 28, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.