Recently in one of the Facebook blogging groups I’m a part of, there was a discussion about Snapchat and whether the majority of us were a bit old to be on it at around thirty.
I can see why people might think that. It’s certainly not a grown up social network. But it can be a lot of fun, and I love it. It’s kind of like the less perfect Instagram, when Instagram was more instant and less photoshopped.
Most people are a bit puzzled by Snapchat when they first start using it, and I know a lot don’t keep using it once they have had a little look. It definitely isn’t the most straightforward app to use, and it isn’t immediately obvious how to use it and where everything is located within the app.
What is Snapchat and How Do You Use It?
Basically, on Snapchat you can take a photo by pressing the round button that comes up when you open the app (as you normally would), then there’s a few options to add things to your photo and to choose how long your photo will be shown for. You can also record a short video by holding the capture button down. Whoever you send the photo to will be able to view the snap for a limited amount of time, based on what you choose. Then the photo disappears! You can choose to replay the snap if you are desperate to see it again, but you only have a limited amount of replays each day unless you pay for them (and the person who sent it will be told that you have replayed it).
So, back to the layout of the app… In the bottom left hand corner of the capture screen you can choose how many seconds your photo will be shown for (up to ten). I generally leave it on ten unless I’m adding the photo to ‘My Story’ (more on that in a mo) because people will then generally be viewing a few snaps at once, so ten seconds might be a bit too long. Next to that you can choose to save the snap to your camera roll, and add it to your ‘My Story’ if you want to.
At the top of the screen you can choose to add text, emojis or write or draw something and change the colour. If you add the text using the ‘T’ icon it will come up in a bar across the screen. If you would prefer for it to be without the bar, you can tap the ‘T’ again and it will change, then you can drag the text around and resize it.
You can also swipe to the right on your picture and add some different overlays and edits, such as your location (it’s cool trying this when you’re in a different city or even country!), the time, and your speed!
Pressing the forward arrow in the bottom right hand corner takes you to a list of your Snapchat ‘friends’ where you can select who you want to send your picture or video to (be careful! ;). You can send it to more than one person at a time, and you can also add it to your ‘My Story’ or just to there and not directly to anyone.
‘My Story’ is like a collection of your snaps that you have added in the last 24 hours. Here, anyone who follows you can view them as many times as they want, until they disappear. If someone decides to view your story, each photo or video will be shown for the time you set it for and then move on to the next one automatically. You do need to go to settings (press the little ghost at the top and then the settings icon in the top right corner) and set ‘View My Story’ to ‘Everyone’ so that anyone who follows you can view it. Otherwise it will only be your ‘friends’ (as in, you both follow each other) who can view it. If you are thinking about using Snapchat for your brand or blog then you will definitely want anyone to be able to view your story.
The little ghost at the top is also where you can see who has added you recently, your ‘friends’ which is actually who you follow, not everyone who follows you back (it’s all a bit confusing), as well as where you can add friends. Annoyingly there is no list of who you might want to follow, nor can you look who your friends are following to see who you might know and want to follow too. The main way to add people is by knowing their username, which is a pain. I presume that might change at some point, although due to the nature of the snaps ‘disappearing’, it will probably never be possible to view who other people are friends with… if you get what I mean.
When someone sends a snap (are you sick of that word yet?) to you directly, a number comes up in the red square in the bottom left corner and if you tap that it comes up with recent activity and the snap you have received will be at the top ready for you to click on and view.
Next to people’s names there is usually an icon or two, depending on how often you send each other snaps – things like how many days in a row you have sent pictures to each other, and if you are their ‘best friend’ and you theirs. These don’t really have much relevance unless you look them all up.
You can view other people’s ‘stories’ by pressing in the bottom right corner – at the top of that page will be your story, below that a few suggestions of brands to follow, a few things you can watch live, and then you can see recent updates from the people you follow.
You can chat to anyone you follow, either by swiping up whilst viewing their story, or if someone has sent you a direct snap, by swiping right on their name. The chat also disappears after you have gone off it.
You can take a screenshot of someone’s photo whilst you are viewing it – BUT they will receive a notification that you have taken a screenshot! So be aware! They did get rid of the notification for a while, but I guess that based on the nature of snapchat and the type of pictures people could be sending – that person should know if the receiver (!) has taken a screenshot!
It all sounds a bit complicated, but hopefully if you’re just setting up your Snapchat app you can follow along with this and learn about how to use it, a bit more quickly than finding it all out yourself, on an app that I don’t think is that intuitive to use.
I love Snapchat, and have been using it more and more recently. It’s good fun, lighthearted and quick to use. I get why people think it is more suited to youngsters using it to pout at each other, and pose provocatively for boys, but I think it’s great for anyone who wants to use it to show their mates what they’re up to instantly, and to get more of an insight into your friends or maybe other blogger’s lives. Or for anyone who wants to send their boyfriend naked pics, obvs… ;)
After Instagram has become so edited and curated now for a lot of people (and I do like looking at those perfect photos sometimes), I love that with Snapchat you don’t have to worry too much about what your photo looks like, or spend time cropping and editing it. I like that it isn’t too much to post a few photos or more a day because people can just view them whenever they want, and you won’t be clogging up anyone’s feed with dozens of photos.
I do think the whole app could be set out a lot better; it always feel a bit all over the place, but you do mostly get used to it. I’ve heard that brands are paying more attention to it now, and paying bloggers and ‘influencers’ to use theirs to promote them, which is interesting. I haven’t used it for promoting my blog at all yet, but I might try it occasionally, in a natural a way as possible.
I think Snapchat is just going to get bigger and bigger and I’m definitely going to keep using it.
I’m loucollier on Snapchat if you’d like to follow me (there won’t be any naked snaps I’m afraid)! (You can’t change your username at the moment, so it still has my old name, grrr).
P.S When you have the camera on yourself (as in, you’re taking a selfie), hold your finger down on your face and see what happens to have some fun!
If you have any questions about Snapchat let me know, and I’ll try my best to answer them!