Snapchat – the instant picture and chat message tool that self-destructs images after 10 seconds – has come a long way from being the app of choice for teens (and some sports stars!) to send racy pictures to each other.

Currently valued at over $19 billion dollars, Snapchat has taken leaps and bounds since 24 year-old CEO Evan Speigel founded it in 2011. With recent updates to the app including text chat, ‘My Story’ (story images are able to be viewed multiple times for a period of 24 hours), Snapchat Story and the new Discovery feature with content snippets from leading publishers such as CNN, Cosmo, Daily Mail and MTV, Snapchat is at the forefront of innovative marketing techniques that brands can use to speak directly to their audience – and in their digital-native language.

With over 100 million users, the majority being within the 18- 34 year-old demographic that advertisers covet, the boggling figure of $19 billion starts to make more sense.

A headline-grabbing recent example is the Zoolander/Valentino fashion parade stunt, where everybody’s favourite male model rivals, Derek and Hansel (Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson) took to the runway to announce Zoolander 2– shocking the audience and the millions watching the ‘Snapchat Story’ of the Valentino parade.

Although it was released in 2001, Zoolander is a pop-culture mainstay for those who watched and loved it at the time. The inclusion of the Valentino behind-the-scenes, runway footage and subsequent surprise appearance by Derek and Hansel on Snapchat’s Story opens up Zoolander 2 to an entirely new audience; Gen Z, while bringing old fans along for the journey – a massive marketing win for brand Zoolander.

For brands uploading their own ‘Story’, or for major events (The Superbowl, Melbourne Cup, New York Marathon) being collated in to Live Snapchat Stories, companies are given the opportunity to humanise their marketing and provide fans and consumers inside access.

As one VC executive told social media publication Mashable; “This might actually be the first true user generated mass media that we’ve seen anywhere.”

Get snapping! And if you’re interested in how you might be able to use SnapChat check out this wrap up of some of the best Snapchat campaigns brands have done, or get the 101 on Snapchat marketing here.