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Forget the IPO. You could be crushing it on Snapchat right now.

I have a love/hate relationship with Snapchat.

I love getting funny Snapchats from my friends/I hate that dumb dog filter. I love that content disappears/I hate flower crown selfies.

(I can already feel the wrath of my fellow millennials as I write this.)

All of the chatter about Snapchat’s upcoming IPO seems to be suffering from a similar tension between excitement and skepticism. Whether you love or hate the growing tech juggernaut that is Snap, Inc., you can’t deny that it’s here to stay – at least for a while. 158 million people use Snapchat every day. That’s more than the number of Americans who drink coffee.

Snapchat offers a chance to make authentic connections with audiences, and brands are getting creative with how they use the tool. There is no Snapchat playbook, which is great because it fosters experimentation and a learn-as-you-go spirit. So which brands are thriving in Snap’s wild west? The ones taking risks and being bold.

Here are a few cool ways brands are using Snapchat to engage with their audiences:


Plastic surgery. No, really.

Dr. Michael “Miami” Salzhauer, a Florida-based cosmetic surgeon, shares Snapchat Stories of the plastic surgery he performs (with patient consent, of course). Dr. Miami says he uses the channel to show audiences what goes into plastic surgery and reveal what really happens during the hours a patient is put under to when they emerge with a tighter tummy or a Brazilian butt lift (or #BBL as he likes to use on Snapchat). Whether you find this appalling, fascinating or somewhere in between, you have to admit it is unexpected. If you have a strong stomach and enjoy trap music (most of his Snapchat videos are set to the likes of Fetty Wap), follow all the gory fun at @therealdrmiami.


Finding your muse(um)

One of my favorite Snapchat trends is art museums using Snapchat to bring humor and fun to art history. Museums, and now many museum-goers, are taking Snapchat photos of classical artworks and captioning them with pop culture references—from “Mean Girls” movie quotes to Beyoncé lyrics. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (@LACMA) is killing it. This is a great way for art museums to stay relevant with younger audiences who are statistically less inclined to visit these institutions.

Get with the Times

The New York Times (@thenytimes) uses Snapchat to give followers an authentic behind-the-scenes look at day-to-day life as a reporter. As a PR professional I love the opportunity to see what goes on behind closed doors. My favorite NYT snap? They did a Story showing one reporter teaching another reporter how to use Snapchat, so that he could write a story for The New York Times about how to write Snapchat Stories. So meta.

Enjoying the spectacle

Now that Snapchat Spectacles are available for purchase online, you can snag your very own pair without chasing down a Snapbot vending machine.

PCI was an early adopter, taking the latter approach, and we use the specs to free up hands when shooting video and offering a more authentic, first-person experience.

Mountain Dew was also an early adopter and took followers on a highly caffeinated Spectacles ride with a skateboarder. If that doesn’t scream Mountain Dew, I don’t know what does.

So what are you waiting for? Ignore the hype and the speculation about Snap’s big IPO – just get out there and start snappin’! (But please, spare me the dog filter selfie)

Don’t forget to follow PCI’s Snapchat adventures on @pcisnaps 👻

Colleen Correll is an Account Supervisor and destination marketing specialist at Public Communications Inc. She loves all things social media, pop culture and travel.