First it was Facebook. Then it was Twitter. Now Snapchat is one of the trendiest social media sites. But there's a challenger on the rise: Musical.ly. According to Ad Exchanger, the app has 117 million users — about 60 percent of which fall into the coveted 13- to 24-year-old demographic. How can companies leverage this new social network trend for teens and young adults?

Music ... What?

Before your brand can benefit, you need to understand how the app works and what makes it so popular among teens and preteens. One of Musical.ly's most popular users — "Txunamy," who claims 1.6 million fans — is just seven years old. At its most basic level, the mobile application is "a video social network for creating, sharing and discovering short videos," according to the official site. Put simply, it's an endless source of lip-synced, 15-second music videos, a cappella renditions and short dance routines. More recently, other types of content have begun to crop up, such as skits and fashion shows.

Sure, anyone can upload a video and post it on other social sites. But what really drives Musical.ly is a combination of both homegrown and teen celebrity users, as well as "trending" tabs and "challenges," which might ask users to perform tasks that are not supported by the app itself, such as making videos blurry or adding emoji effects. Power users, such as the site's most popular draw, "Baby Ariel," get a crown icon next to their profile and are watched by millions every day. In the case of Baby Ariel, for example, the quality of her content led to spinoff output on Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.

Functionality aside, however, Musical.ly has something else going for it: zeitgeist. The app encapsulates current teen communication: Short video clips easily produced anywhere, anytime, combined with the ability to follow popular icons and even to become iconic under the right conditions.

Rhythmic Revenue

So how do you tap the madness that is Musical.ly? First, you must understand that the brand is still figuring out its place in the marketing world. For example, it recently ran a campaign with Coca-Cola that asked users to upload a video of themselves sharing the soft drink and got 900,000 entries. Pop icons such as Selena Gomez, Flo Rida and Meghan Trainor are also using the platform to launch albums. Companies that are looking to get on board with this social network trend for teens should start small. Make an account, do your research and post a few relevant videos. After you amass a few followers, you can work to develop solid hashtags with simple challenges to spread the word and get your brand trending on other social outlets.

And for those that say "why bother?" since most of the app's users aren't old enough to drive, it's worth paying attention to Musical.ly's director of sales and business development, Kevin Ferguson. As quoted in Ad Exchanger, Ferguson notes that their users "have an incredible amount of influence" over credit card carrying adults, and while the video-sharing service isn't about creating "endless monetization opportunities," it's an ideal place to develop organic links with users on the cusp of their biggest spending years.

Tags: Social Media Marketing social media