Social media sites come and go, but every now and then, one comes along that takes root and becomes the next BIG THING.

A few years ago, that was Pinterest. Then we got Instagram. Now we have Snapchat.

At first, Snapchat may have seemed like a tool for teenagers who wanted to get away with gossiping about friends without getting caught. The platform’s unique position was that the texts, pictures and videos you send disappear within seconds of viewing and users can’t take screen shots.

However, the social platform has grown significantly, and it now has 100 million daily users. The majority of users are college students, but even married people with families use the platform. And now major brands and even politicians are using Snapchat to reach their audiences.

Snapchat is here to stay — at least for the foreseeable future. You can’t dismiss it as a passing fad. You need to develop a marketing strategy for the platform now so you can establish a strong presence while the site is still growing.

Here’s how to get started on Snapchat to be successful:

Follow Successful Brands

Snapchat can be a bit confusing even after you read about how to create a snap, use a filter or lens, add doodles and create stories. Unless you’re a teenager, it can all feel like joining a secret group that has a language and signs that you’ve never encountered.

The best way to really get acclimated is to follow other brands who are successfully using the platform. You can see not only how they use the features on Snapchat, but also how they successfully market their brand while connecting with users.

Some top brands that are using Snapchat right now include Starbucks, Paramount Pictures, Disney and Nike.

Use an App to Find Users

One of the drawbacks of Snapchat is that it does not have a discovery tool for other users. The only way to find users is to search for their exact user names.

Unlike on Facebook and Twitter, you cannot search for users by location or interests.

However, you can use an app like GhostCodes or Peek to find users. You just install these third-party apps and look for celebrities, CEOs, and everyday users. You’ll be able to find influencers in your niche, as well as your target audience.

Create Special Promotions

Give users a reason to follow you on Snapchat by creating special promotions that are available only for them.

One of the most popular options is to create a promotion that disappears within seconds. People have to follow you in order to see the snap, and they have to act fast to get the promotion.

Of course, you’ll need to make this promotion work for an impulse buy. No one is going to drop more than about $20 without having more than a few seconds to think about it.

Create a Special Filter or Lens

Filters and lenses are special items that people can place over their snaps, and they are very popular. If you create one of these for you brand, you can get a ton of user engagement and exposure.

For example, Starbucks created a filter for one of its ice coffee drinks that put celebratory hearts and starbursts over the person’s face. Taco Bell created a special lens for Cinco de Mayo that turned people’s faces into tacos.

Not only do these promotions result in tons of people using the filters and lenses, but they also encourage people to follow your brand and to visit your business to purchase.

Filters and lenses cost a lot of money, but they have been shown to deliver a huge ROI that make them more than worth it.

Be Part of Trending Conversations

Snapchat has Discover channels, which are curated streams of content from exceptional publishers, and Live Stories, which highlight the best snaps from across the network.

Both favor special events and trending topics, such as the Oscars, a playoff game, or a story that’s in the news.

You can increase your chances of being featured in these tools by creating snaps about trending topics. Find ways that you can integrate your brand with these conversations.

For example, Lego is well-known for creating timely content for its social media, such as its Lego men holding their own Oscars, playing in an all-star game or even swimming at the beach during the summer. These are the kinds of snaps that would certainly be featured in curated streams.

By landing your content in one of these streams, you will get more exposure for your brand and get more followers. Get creative and make fun and interesting posts that are about timely topics.

Snapchat has become a major player in social media, with even presidential candidates using it to reach voters. Make sure that your brand is not left behind, and use these tips to start connecting with audiences.

Social Media How to Get Started on Snapchat