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Why Snapchat Will Build Your Future Audiences

After making just $3 million in 2014, Snapchat pulled in a projected $50 million in 2015, making it the fastest growing social media network of the year. The platform’s rise can be attributed to the youth, as 71% of their users are under 25. While Millennials make up a dominant 73% of users, the 32% that are teenagers will only increase. When brands adopt Snapchat, they do it to speak directly to younger generations, and more often they’re forming conversations with an audience too young to even use their product yet, but it’s still a conversation worth having.

On a platform dominated by high school and college students, where many of them won’t be  using American Airlines on a regular basis, the company still believes it’s an audience worth engaging. During “The Best Brands on Snapchat” panel at Social Media Week New York, social media specialist Aaron Wolfe of American Airlines discussed how they use Snapchat to grant their followers access to on-brand experiences in order to help keep the brand top of mind. By creating good content that their future customers enjoy, Wolfe is seeding the reputation of his company when it comes time for these kids to buy plane tickets.

American Airlines can speak to their existing customer base on different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but Wolfe understands that Snapchat is all about making connections for the first time. Producing quality content for your audience is the quickest way to establish a brand awareness on social media. Their plan is to speak with the future businesspeople currently in high school and college, who might not be flying now, but will be in the near future.

The important thing to remember is that this audience is made up of real life people who will grow up. When you speak to teenagers who might not be using your product now, it sets your brand up for more business in the future. One day these 18-24 millennials will be 30-something business people, and if you’ve done your long range work, those viable customers will already know of your product and will, presumably, start buying.

It’s a long-term strategy that can take some time to show dividends. Wolfe mentioned that they aren’t even tracking engagement metrics during the early goings of their Snapchat campaign because right now it’s all about building an audience toward the future. As long as their following increases and people are viewing their content, American Airlines is happy. Without any metrics, it can be hard to measure the success of your content, however, your audience will tell you when you’re succeeding and when you’re failing by how they interact with you. It’s not all poking around in the dark.

As popular as Facebook is, the platform has seen a stagnation in new users over the last year. Twitter has it even worse, seeing a growth in users of less than 1% in 2015. Gen Zers are fleeing big social media networks, and are instead using private messenger apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat. Many believe that teens will move to Facebook once they are older and reach high school and college, but if you want to speak directly to them now, Snapchat is your best bet.

It can be hard to get a campaign like this off the ground because there is no short-term success, but all brands need to think long-term as well. Audiences change and new customers enter the picture. By using Snapchat to converse with teenagers now, you are establishing a relationship that will follow them through the different stages of their lives and their social media careers. From Snapchat as teenagers, to Facebook as young adults, to Twitter when they’re young professionals, and to LinkedIn when they reach seniority. A bond like that is invaluable.