The best brands on Snapchat

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There is never a dull day in the world of content marketing. On Facebook, brands compete for coveted news feed real estate and are now spending even bigger budgets to engage consumers with the right combination of quality content and paid media. While on Pinterest and Instagram, where organic content still thrives, new ad platforms are on the horizon, and advertisers are lining up to be the first to test them. The new reality is that with the volume of content on the rise and more competition to engage consumers and scale campaigns across the largest social media networks, brands will need to invest more in creating quality content and supporting it with paid media. As a result, many marketers are experimenting with smaller, emerging platforms as a way to connect with a more intimate demographic and grow their organic audience.

Among these emerging channels is Snapchat, a relatively new app that joined the scene in September 2011 and has since seen significant growth in use between 13 and 25 year olds. The app is now estimated to have 26 to 30 million active U.S. users who, on any given day, can be found snapping one to 10 second clips to their friends on their mobile devices. Friends on the receiving end of this content can view the "snap" before it disappears or quickly screen capture to save. And, in the past month, Snapchat has added a new chat and video calling feature which allows users to communicate in real-time, with the chat erased from their history as soon as they exit the conversation.

For brands, this new channel's heavy teen user-base poses a number of fresh opportunities. For starters, there is no algorithm and less noise with a small but growing user base, and only early-adopter brands are testing the waters. With less competition for viewer attention, brands have more access to Snapchat's audience and greater capacity to build a connection. Similarly, the one-to-one sharing paired with limited editing (i.e. all content must be shot and shared straight from the app) means interactions between brand and consumers are inherently more raw and authentic.

However, as with any new territory, it's an incubator for trial and error. Some brands have found a niche by leveraging the app for its ability to provide exclusive access and snippets of news. Others are just exposing their silly-side and a glimpse into what makes their brand tick. Across the board, the best examples are the ones that have clearly identified their value exchange and are giving followers compelling and unique content relevant to their brand.

Here is a look at how brands are using Snapchat across the board.