You may want to start paying attention to SnapChat

Facebook started with kids before bubbling into the mainstream

When Mary Meeker presented her yearly State of the Internet recently, one slide in particular stuck out at me. It was the one that shows the number of photos uploaded to Internet this year, but it wasn't just the number itself, which was surely impressive, it was how far SnapChat has come as third most popular site for uploads.

That's ahead of Flickr and Instagram, folks, and if you don't have a teenager, you very possibly have never heard of them. The way the site works is you send a photo and a text together, hence snap and chat. If you're on there for any length of time, and you know how teens get when they get a hold of a service they like, that's going to add up to a lot of photos in a hurry--and if these numbers are accurate, the growth has been phenomenal.

And that kind of growth and those kinds of numbers, as you might expect, have caught the attention of investors who, according to GigaOm, just threw a stunning $100 million at the company, which was founded by a couple of Stanford students in May 2011. The article pegs the company's value today at a ridiculous $700 million and states that the service is collecting 150 million snapchats a day. 

So what does this mean to you and why should you care how venture capitalists spend their money? Teens are often the canaries in the coal mine of social media. They spot trends long before they hit the mainstream. Facebook was originally a service for college students, then high schoolers were invited. It was several years before it hit the mainstream.

Remember when people thought Twitter was a joke?

I'm sure most marketing departments wouldn't consider a strategy today that doesn't include Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Twitter. It doesn't mean you need a presence on SnapChat this instant, but it does mean you probably should be paying attention and watching where it goes. If it starts to dip out of the teen pool and into more mainstream usage, you may want to begin formulating a plan for incorporating it into your social media strategy.

For now, watch this company because it's taking off in a big way and it may be the next thing you have to worry about.

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