Many tech experts and industry watchers are projecting that 2015 will be the year when messaging apps become just as important for brands looking to connect with consumers as social networks. These messaging apps are not only expected to grow, but could also start syphoning advertising dollars from the traditional leaders in social media.

Messaging apps like Line, WhatsApp, Kik, and Snapchat cater to Millennials, a generation that prefers a decentralized social networking experience, but also gives them the ability to communicate with friends with much more privacy than social networks, like Facebook, afford. For this post, we’ll focus on Snapchat as it is the most popular of the chat apps and has a plethora of examples to pull from. Snapchat is a photo messaging app that allows users to take photos, record video, add text and drawings, (called “snaps”) and send them to a controlled list of recipients to view for a limited time. The app itself has some pretty impressive stats when it comes to users. Launched nearly four years ago, the app has over 100 million active monthly users sending over 400 million snaps a day. Women make up the majority of Snapchat’s demographic at roughly 70 percent and 71 percent of its users are under 25 years old.

While I am a bit older than Snapchat’s current audience, I do use Snapchat and see that it has great potential to disrupt the social media landscape that we use today. We are a visual society and Snapchat feeds its users visually compelling images and videos that hold our attention span. When I receive a Snap, I think of it as a mini story. I’ve got 10 seconds to view the story and take it all in before it is gone. And I have to admit, some of the Snaps that I get from friends and brands are pretty entertaining and tell a good, quick story. In turn, I feel more connected to the friends and brands that send me snaps.

But many marketers are left wondering how they can get in the game and leverage mobile chat apps? It’s a great question and one that can be answered by taking a look at some brands who are snapping their way to the top of Snapchat. It’s also important to call out three key attributes of successful Snapchats: sharing followers’ content, exclusive content, and personalization of content. Here are three examples that use all of these key attributes.

One of Snapchat’s rising stars is Taco Bell. They have a striking 80 percent open rate for their snaps – which you cannot get on email or any other social platform. The company is so successful on Snapchat, not just because Millennials like Taco Bell, but because they speak the lingo of their target demographic along with the creative use of emojis. Now you understand why the fast-food chain has been lobbying for a taco emoji. In addition, Taco Bell encourages their social media followers to share photos of themselves at their restaurants or eating Taco Bell food. Taco Bell then shares these photos on Snapchat. Followers whose photos are shared get so excited it is the equivalent of winning the Lotto. OK, not really, but you get the point. By doing this, Taco Bell is connecting with its followers on a personal level and solidifying brand loyalty.

By now, we’re used to seeing follow icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest when it comes to advertising of all kinds. But movies and TV are taking it one step further and are including sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes of movies or shows through snaps. “Pitch Perfect 2” can be proud to be the first movie to advertise their Snapchat handle at the end of its trailer. The movie also has a Tumblr page where they store snaps adding more endurance to their short snap clips. Having the Tumblr page also plays into the cross promotion of content mentioned in the Taco Bell case. TV shows like “Girls,” “Pretty Little Liars,” and “The Voice” have been using Snapchat to promote their shows and provide their fans with special, behind-the-scenes content they are unable to receive on any other social channel. This type of content gives followers a sense of belonging and being connected to the movie or show by receiving the exclusive content.

The NBA is also another great example of leveraging Snapchat for their marketing purposes. Using the Snapchat stories function, NBA teams are able to give their followers unique looks of the players on the court and off, making fans feel that much more connected to their team. The NBA brand itself also had some fun with Snapchat by enlisting the help of former NBA stars. Through the stories function, retired professional basketball player Dikembe Mutombo provided followers with a peek of what daily operations at the NBA offices in New York City are like. While Millennials are the main consumers of Snaps, this series by the NBA engaged an older generation who remember Mutombo’s court skills which is a great way to grow their follower base. The NBA increases its presence on Snapchat during the playoffs by sharing first looks at jerseys, behind-the-scenes with players, and real time game updates. The way the NBA is leveraging Snapchat, plays into the personalization of the content being shared – followers feel personally connected to the NBA and fans get involved and excited about the game.

Snapchat and apps like it, are growing increasingly popular and, therefore, important not only for consumers, but for the brands who want to connect with those consumers. But we have to wonder if it is right for every brand to use. The easy answer is no. But that could change. Snapchat is looking to raise $500 million in funding, which indicates they will be expanding their services and growing their global market share. Snapchat is still a relatively young social media platform, and a definite near-term need for the platform is to have a measurement tool that can evaluate ROI. Until that comes about, it will be hard for marketers to embrace Snapchat.

When it comes to Snapchat, most B2C brands have a play with the channel. On the other hand, B2B brands are waiting to see how they might fit into the channel. Think back to when Twitter first entered the scene and how apprehensive marketers were in embracing the channel and investing in it. It was a new frontier for marketers and they were cautious. First we saw the Millennials jump on Twitter and bring popularity and awareness to the channel. B2C brands shortly followed and joined Twitter. The last domino to fall were the B2B brands. Now virtually every B2C and B2B brand is on social media, but it didn’t happen overnight. We may just see the same thing being played out here with Snapchat.

While the ways a B2B brand can leverage the channel are less obvious today, now is the time to pay attention to Snapchat and other chat apps with a strategic and creative eye. These apps offer brands a way to speak to maturing generations in a non-threatening, engaging, and personal manner. All B2B and B2C brands should seriously consider embracing the medium now before the competition snaps them up.

For More On Snapchat, Check Out: Is Snapchat an Underutilized PR Tool?