(Reminder: if you haven’t yet, make sure you follow me on Snapchat at @jessicazweig.)

I have always believed that every digital action you take is a part of your brand story. And no other platform allows you to tell your story as authentically as Snapchat does. And if you understand the Millennial audience just the slightest bit, (and you happen to be a fan of my blog), you know that authenticity is my favorite commodity. The more real, truthful, vulnerable and imperfect you allow yourself and your story to be, the more impact you can make on your community, your clients, and the world around you.

Unlike Instagram (where everything is beautiful and aspirational to the point of being depressingly unattainable), or Facebook (where everything is strategically spun to be promotional, political or perfectly timed in order to receive just the right engagement), or Twitter (where it’s essential to be quick, catchy and quirky to grab attention), Snapchat is the place to be raw. Real. Unfiltered. Unedited. Uncensored. Personal. Emotional. Honest. Off the cuff. Silly. Even a little messy. (Actually, especially a little messy.)

I know many of you are still discovering how to use Snapchat in the first place. Don’t you worry. I’ve got a Snapchat 101 tutorial on deck for next week, but before I dive into the “HOW,” I want to dive deeper into the “WHY.” (You know how I roll.) So without further ado, here are my top 5 reasons you need to be on Snapchat.

1. Access

This might be the most important and exciting reason to be on Snapchat. Whether it’s front row seats to the hottest sports night of the year, inside a celebrity’s closet, or sitting in an Uber with a perfect stranger while she’s on her way to a date, no other platform can give the average person this kind of access. CNBC reported just last week that Millennials are replacing watching TV with Snapchat. The Huffington Post reported that NBA star Hassan Whiteside “broke Snapchat” when he announced his return to the Miami Heat not on ESPN, but on the platform instead. That’s because an unedited, up-close-and-personal, real time view is and always will be inherently more exciting… because it’s more genuine. When you start sharing and exploring in Snapchat, keep this buzzword of “access” in mind. It’s going to revolutionize the way in which we consume pretty much everything.

2. Genuine Connection 

We all know that social media busted open the world just a few short years ago, allowing strangers from all the over world to virtually connect over a single photo, post or link. I personally built my first business on the ability to amplify my message across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to reach my audience and for that reason alone: I’ll always be indebted to (and obsessed with) social media. But unlike these aforementioned social platforms, true status or influence is not determined by the amount of likes, shares or comments you do or do not receive. On Snap, no one can see those metrics but you. Therefore, Snapchat is inherently less of a popularity contest and more of an organic environment to truly connect with real people you know, don’t know or want to know. In just the last month, I’ve connected with some of the biggest influencers in the Snapchat game, not because I had to sell myself or my business, or because my bio on Snapchat looks super fly (FYI: there is no bio feature on Snapchat) but because I responded to their stories with genuine feedback, or they’ve responded to mine, in real time, which has led to really amazing connections, which has created relationships, which has opened doors to some amazing opportunities. That’s the real ROI of Snapchat, guys. It’s actually redefining the whole meaning of ROI altogether. If authenticity is Snap’s hottest commodity, genuine connections are its greatest currency. 

3. Authenticity

I know I sound like a broken record, but this is a seriously important point. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little over the same-ole-same-ole-sameness across Instagram, everyone’s perfect, happy lives on Facebook and the latest controversial sound-bite from Donald Trump on Twitter. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just become a little unoriginal, IMHO. Just the other day, I watched an entire Story of a girl in London whom I never met, as she was getting ready to visit her friend in jail. #Whoa, right? You might be thinking: Who wants to watch something like that? That’s dark. That’s weird. That’s too personal. For me, it was one of the most compelling pieces of “content” I’ve experienced on social media in months… because it was just so fucking honest. In three-minutes of 10-second video clips, the girl from London talked about the injustices of the incarceration system, her fears of stepping into a jail for the first time, her love for her friend, the meaning of forgiveness and her gratitude for her own daily freedom. Dare I say it was profound. I thought about that girl’s story for days and now wait in anticipation for every one of her Stories. That, my friends, is the power of authenticity. That is the power of Snapchat.

4. Discovery

Media outlets of all different sizes, from Buzzfeed to Refinery 29 to CNN to People Magazine, have partnered with the Snapchat content channel, “Discover.” You can subscribe to these channels to get news and **access** on the fly (see my LeBron James aha! moment from last week). But what I love to discover most are actual brand’s “Stories.” Lululemon, L’Oreal, Taco Bell and EXPRESS are just a few doing an amazing job highlighting their products, crafting unique promotions and giving viewers a behind-the-scene-looks into the day-to-day lives of their businesses. As a marketer, I am so inspired by the innovation I’m seeing these companies roll out on a daily basis. The more unconventional you’re willing to be as a business, brand or an influencer, the more exciting your content will be to discover. Personally, I love bringing this inspiration and new way of thinking into my own stories, as well as the clients I work with. 

5. Fun!

Where else can you act like a fool with doggie face filters, draw scribbles of artwork across a picture like a toddler (or a master painter, depending on how you look at it), send weird photos of all sorts that last for two seconds and then disappear for eternity, all while you build your brand, influence and connections? Snapchat is revolutionizing content sharing, sure, but it will also make you laugh until you nearly pee your pants. The world needs more light, fun, silliness and joy as much as it needs more consciousness and connection. It’s as simple as that.

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