Retail bakeries are constantly looking for an edge when it comes to social media marketing. These platforms allow businesses to reach customers in a uniquely personal way, and some of the most instant and effective options to do that are through Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

First launched in 2011, Snapchat has since become a go-to app for people and businesses to share quick messages, pictures, and videos. These 1-10 second “snaps” go away after the first viewing, although snaps can be replayed or screenshotted. Snaps can also be saved to My Story, which compiles saved snaps into a chronological storyline accessible to everyone who follows for 24 hours. Today, Snapchat has over 166 million daily active users, meaning it is a valuable resource for reaching potential customers.

Likewise, Instagram Stories performs a similar function. Debuted in August of 2016, this relatively new feature is part of social media platform Instagram’s strategy to capture the magic of Snapchat in its own format. Instagram Stories may appeal to many businesses who don’t already have Snapchat but do have an Instagram account and an established following. As opposed to simply posting photos or videos to an Instagram account, Instagram Stories allows the user to post as many times as he or she wants, with those photos or videos disappearing after 24 hours. Stories can be made private for only followers, or they can be made public for anyone to see.

How can small businesses use these apps to their advantage?  Most importantly, it allows them to showcase their product. For bakeries, this provides a great way to give a quick glimpse at what they do best. Hugely successful operations such as Magnolia Bakery, which has locations across the U.S. and over 342,000 Instagram followers, have used both Snapchat and Instagram Stories to great effect. It’s a perfect way for a bakery of any size to share content in an easy-to-use format.

These platforms provide excellent opportunities to give baking tips, special offers, a behind-the-scenes peek at the baking process, and a look at the people who bring the bakery to life. It is personalized marketing, which is becoming more and more necessary in today’s business climate.

Another important aspect of using these apps is that they allow you to share your content across a broader spectrum. You can synchronize your posts so that they reach users of all social media channels, so that your posts don’t just go to Facebook and Twitter, but also to the nearly a billion daily active users of Snapchat and Instagram combined.

There are endless possibilities for engaging with audiences on these apps, and the limits of your imagination are the only thing stopping you from promoting your business in free, convenient ways!