Snapchat has been out for a few years now, but only recently has there been an increase in the number of major brands - as well as entrepreneurs and marketers - picking up the social platform and taking it for a spin.

It's not easy to get the hang of the very personal and one-on-one kind of human engagement that Snapchat requires, but plenty of brands are taking the plunge. It's hard to resist the pull of a budding social network with some 100+ million daily active users sending more than 9,000 snaps per second.

If you're looking for inspiration and a little direction on how to leverage Snapchat, there are plenty of big brands to light the way. Here's a list of the top 10 you should follow now to keep an eye out for their upcoming snap stories.

1. Audi

The car manufacturer is credited with a solid win in Super Bowl XLVIII after teaming up with The Onion to connect with Millennials using Snapchat. The resulting game day posts of stock photos covered in witty captions generated 100,000 views and over 37 million impressions.

Audi continues to use Snapchat well, teasing out information on new model releases and more, keeping car enthusiasts and Audi fans glued to their Snapchat for updates. The company doesn't post frequently, but when it does, the content counts.

2. The Ellen Show

It's not uncommon for television shows to struggle with social media. Many fans often turn to video-sharing sites like YouTube to catch clips and full episodes. Ellen has done well with Snapchat, giving fans behind-the-scenes access on the set and during shenanigans.

3. Vaynermedia (Gary Vaynerchuk)

Gary Vaynerchuk is well-known as an early adopter of technology, working it like a Rubik's Cube while he sorts out whether or not it works for business use. He's been pushing the benefits of Snapchat for a while now. He mixes content and puts out calls to action to drive his followers - mainly entrepreneurs and marketers - to get up and hustle.

4. Amazon

Amazon does some terrific promotional marketing with its Snapchat, often putting up lightning deals and sharing gift ideas. It plays off the urgency of short-duration calls to action to spur purchases that otherwise might not get picked up. Followers have a hard time letting a deal go that disappears that fast.

5. Mashable

Mashable is a global multi-platform media and entertainment company covering a variety of topics. Content on the site includes tech reviews, interviews, pop culture, social media, business, and more. Mashable's Snapchat features inside access to interviews and reviews, as well as to events its team attends.

Most notable is the great mix of pictures (with detailed captions), along with videos that make for a compelling snap story.

6. EA Sports

Businesses like WetSeal, GrubHub, and Dominos have all used Snapchat to promote discount codes, as well as giveaways, since that type of content plays into promoting urgency and triggering a reactionary response.

EA Sports also plays off that with exclusive giveaways. In previous snaps, the company has sent out pictures of a signed jersey with a copy of a game, and then encouraged followers to tweet using an exclusive hashtag. From those tweets it chose a winner.

EA Sports also takes advantage of its access to athletes, and shares pics and video behind the scenes where fans would otherwise never get a look.

7. Redbull

If you like the action-packed user-generated content often shared by Redbull - including the insane sporting events it sponsors - then you'll want to follow the company to see how it packages exclusivity at those events into 10-second glimpses.

Redbull steps up the game by frequently allowing takeovers of its Snapchat account, turning it over to riders and athletes during events. By allowing riders to take control, followers get a backstage look into competitions as athletes share selfies and videos using various filters and emoji.

It shows how partnering with others within an industry can provide cross-promotion and entertaining engagement for fans.

8. Nascar

Nascar not only allows takeovers of its account with pit crew members and race teams, providing some serious inside access to its fan base, it also participates in live story events.

Recently, Nascar hosted a live stream for Nascar Talladega where its snap story featured shots and videos from pit row. For the live stories, anyone with Snapchat in the area with location services turned on can take snaps and submit them. Those live stories are curated by Snapchat. Nascar has done an awesome job of showcasing how Snapchat can be incorporated at large events for promotional and engagement purposes.

9. Comedy Central

Comedy Central is kind of one of those not-safe-for-work brands. Its Snapchat shares a variety of content, ranging from joke-of-the-day to previews and promotions, show setup, green room interviews, and comic performances.

One of the things I love about Comedy Central is how it reminds us that levity is important. Injecting humor into your snap story helps make a connection because people love to laugh. What better emotional connection than to have someone associate your brand with entertainment and laughter?

It's kind of a necessity for Comedy Central, but there's no reason you can't leverage it for your brand, too.

10. IHOP

IHOP, the well-known pancake restaurant chain, has been on Snapchat for about two years and takes a slightly more traditional-to-the-platform approach. It doesn't really promote much, instead relying on Snapchat to solicit feedback from followers and have direct conversations about customer experiences.

The chain has also created a number of geotargeted filters that guests can use while in the restaurant to snap about their food and their experiences.

Need some examples of how digital and content marketers (and entrepreneurs) are leveraging Snapchat? Here are a few key people to check out and add:

Mark Suster
,
Upfront Ventures
Justin Kan
,
Ycombinator
Morgan Brown
,
Chief Operating Officer
,
Inman News
Justin Wu
,
Hackapreneur

Have you spotted other brands that seem to be doing exceptionally well on Snapchat? Connect with me on Snapchat and let me know.

Published on: Oct 3, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.