Over the past five years, Snapchat has become one of the fastest-growing social networks of all time. Currently, 41% of Americans 18- to 34-year-olds are on Snapchat, and they’re watching 10 billion Snapchat videos per day. Snapchat photos and videos cost nothing to make in-house, and with such a wide audience reach, it’s no wonder Snapchat has become a fundamental part of international marketing strategies for all industries.

Snapchat stories are the key platform companies use, creating a compilation of photos and videos that tell a story or narrative, lasting only 24 hours. This 24-hour time period creates a sense of urgency for viewers knowing the content is time sensitive; overall, this feeling of exclusivity increases views. Brands use basic editing tools, filters, geo-filters, Emojis, and text to spice up their content, and users consume this content on a Snapchat’s user-friendly platform.

Most recently, Snapchat has introduced interactive filters, using facial recognition software to give the user a mask, filter, or distorted look to their face. These face and background changing filters allow users to become an advertisement by sharing the content with friends or on their individual stories, without paying the user.

The story function of Snapchat led the way for real-time social media marketing. Brands and content creators use the story function to create daily content and engage users. Using the story feature, brands are able to directly reach an audience in a candid manner. Smaller businesses can offer a look at the office lifestyle, individual tastemakers can cross promote to support brands, and real estate agencies have started conducting walk-throughs of homes on their Snapchat accounts for potential buyers.

Snapchat also gives users access to live events in real time, offering a more casual view of what’s happening behind the scenes. This inside look at events offers a less traditional way of content consumption. Viewers love this because they feel special gaining access to content that until now was restricted to those with backstage passes.

Many events have been covered on Snapchat, including the presidential debates, sports event, concerts, conferences, and parties. In 2015, 70 million people watched NFL’s live story during the football season, further solidifying Snapchat as an important way to reach a wide audience. Snapchat’s involvement with these events creates the opportunity to sell ad space, allowing brands to put products directly in front of their target audiences.

Additionally, Snapchat offers a Discover feature whereby brands can produce daily refreshed content from their channel guide, alongside brand advertisements. Users are able to watch stories made and curated by artists, publishers, and Snapchat’s staff that feature a range of content including photos, videos, articles, and traditional advertisements. Brands have started to partner up with Snapchat to produce this content in creative, fresh ways to attract viewers. National Geographic, Vice, People Magazine, Daily Mail, MTV, BuzzFeed, Wall Street Journal, and Comedy Central are just some of the companies featured on the Discover section of Snapchat to reach fans directly.

As Snapchat expands its presence in the world of advertising, it is forcing brands to alter how they traditionally approach advertising and marketing. The Snapchat platform is a great tool for promotion on any scale, remaining cheaper than traditional forms of marketing while managing to reach a younger audience in real time. Whether it’s promoting a store opening, advertising your brand, showing a home, or offering a candid look inside of a popular event – Snapchat’s opportunities for unique content creation will continue to grow, benefiting both companies and consumers.