If asked, most business owners can probably name several tech tools that help their marketing and keep their revenue flowing. For example, most people use Facebook, Twitter, and personal websites to promote services or products, often with measurably positive results. There are, however, less well-known technological advances that can benefit us all. One of these is Snapchat. Although most people consider Snapchat a purely social application, it carries many business benefits, as well.

Basic Benefits of Snapchat

1. It's convenient.

One of Snapchat’s key benefits is that it’s convenient. Users can create story to share with others, which works a bit like a miniature profile. It strings "snaps," or photos, videos, and captions together so they can be "read" or viewed cohesively. Using stories, businesses can tell potential clients what they sell and who they serve in a quick, engaging, and colorful way.

2. There's ample room for creativity.

Additionally, because Snapchat stories last only 24 hours, business owners or employees can update the stories as much as they like. For example, let's say the owner of a small bookstore has always sold traditional books and e-readers but opens a coffee and pastry shop. In the same week as the opening, that owner can dedicate two or three Snapchat stories to bookselling, how the coffee shop will add to the customer experience, and signature coffees or pastries. The business owner can add photos of charts and graphs, too, showing which items are most popular at certain times of year.

3. Customers enjoy visual messages.

Some potential users shy away from Snapchat because it’s so visual, relying on pictorial content and short captions rather than many traditional statuses found on Facebook and Twitter. In truth, pictures and blurbs will pull in clients far more easily than traditional statuses might. This is because as our world becomes more technologically driven, attention spans naturally shorten.

4. It's made up of appealing small blurbs.

People want to know why they should use a certain business or service. They want to interact with the business rather than just reading about it, which real-time photos and videos can help them do. As for the existing written information, presenting it in small blurbs makes it easier for Snapchat users to read and remember. Users are more likely to return to a site to check for more blurbs, which they will then piece together with pictorial information to determine whether they want to become a client.

5. Ephemeral content is a good thing.

Finally, Snapchat benefits businesses because its information disappears so quickly. This may sound like a negative thing because there’s no guarantee clients will remember information once it’s gone. It’s also difficult to replicate the same information over and over. Yet when information disappears, potential mistakes and irrelevant content disappears, too. Business owners don’t have to constantly weed through content and update posts as they would with a website, blog, or Facebook page.

Key Advice for Using Snapchat

If you’re a business owner considering Snapchat, go slowly at first. Follow these key pieces of advice:

1. Think beyond your product.

In other words, just because you sell books doesn’t mean all your snaps should be about paperbacks and reading. Cater to client interests. McDonald’s did this well when they created snaps of famous athletes playing sports and endorsing their products. The campaign built instant inroads with sports fans and sold more fast food, as well.

2. Use leading questions.

Take advantage of Snapchat’s caption feature. Ask questions–what did users do this weekend? What movies and TV shows do they look forward to this fall? If they could be any animal, which would they choose? These questions are engaging, and the responses can tell you more about your clients.

3. Let users snap with you.

Offer rewards and coupons for creative doodles or funny captions. Offer a new contest or reward opportunity every few weeks or so, or whenever you introduce a new product or service.

4. Go behind the scenes.

Most clients aren’t fully aware of what it takes to run their favorite businesses. Give them engaging behind-the-scenes footage. Let’s say you’re the director of a community theater. You can post sneak previews of production scenes, but let users see the unfinished products, too. Use Snapchat to give tours of places like the set design area, the makeup rooms, or choreography rehearsals.