What Is Snapchat?

I realize I have spoken a lot about Snapchat so far and from what you’ve read, it probably sounds like it’s my favorite platform. I do appreciate it and its capabilities, perhaps even its potential. I would not categorize it as my favorite but it’s hard to pick a favorite way to be social when the top options are uniquely different. Well, of course only different until Facebook finds a way to mimic in some way.

This piece is for the newbie to Snapchat. Perhaps you’ve seen articles about it and are interested in trying the app but there may be hesitance. Maybe you tried it once but it didn’t keep your interest and your curious about the new features. No matter what’s brought you here, the goal is for you to click off with a better understanding and hopefully a drive to experiment with it.

Let’s Start With The Basics
Snapchat is simply a photo and video sharing mobile tool. The idea is you take a photo, using a filter or adding text for fun – optional, and you post it to your “story” where it stays for 24 hours. This story is visible to those you’ve friended on the app during that time, as many times as they would like to view it. You’re also able to post it to a local story where users who aren’t on your friendlist can view it, here the users will not see your user name. The most recent feature also shows you on a map, if you choose to enable it.


What To Do
The last part might have gotten a little fast if you’re new but it makes sense once you’re looking at it. when the app first starts up, it’s immediately on the camera. You swipe the screen left to see your story and the stories of those you follow. You can scroll down here to also see featured stories from companies such as Buzzfeed and National Geographic. There’s even a couple of mini shows starting to show up! You can see more shows if you swipe the screen one more time to the left. To get back to the camera you swipe right and if you swipe right past the camera, you can see everyone you’ve sent a snap to or that has sent one to you. Here’s the other major aspect of Snapchat, snaps to people!

19551062_10154936372394401_239467648_nSendings Snaps
There are a ton of filter options, as I’ve mentioned here. The thing is, you can filter a photo before taking it and after. Once you get it *just right* you can send it to someone specific AND post it to your story, if you feel so inclined. The real difference with sending to someone vs posting to your story is that on the story it can be see multiple times but whatever you set the timer for is how long your friend has to see it before it’s gone forever. Unless you saved it, of course. The example to the left you can see the hot dog filter, the “save this photo” in the bottom left, “add this to my story” next to it. Then in the top right you can add text, write on it yourself, add a filter, cut out parts, and adjust the timer before hitting the blue send button. Oh, let’s not forget after you get the photo *just right* there’s a timer on the right side and you have to say how long you want it.  This does not apply to videos, just photos. For proper etiquette, it should at least be long enough for them to read any words and check out the photo. There was also a recent feature upgrade that allows you to loop a video, meaning it plays over and over until you stop it, and setting a photo to infinity so again the person viewing would have to top the screen to move on.

19551039_10154936372434401_1697036992_nHave a photo saved in your phone that you want to share on Snapchat? You have that option as well! On the camera screen, you can tap the button at the bottom and you can see the snaps you’ve saved, the stories of yours that you’ve saved, and the photos from your very own camera roll. Any of these can be chosen and edited – including adding filters – then sent out privately or publicly to your friends. This is also where you go to your saved photos when you want to share them outside of Shapchat. You simply click on the photo you want to share, tap the pencil for edit, then tap the share button and choose where you want to send it. To be fair, whenever I try to share it to Swarm, as a photo for checking in, it usually crashes Snapchat. I also have it crash when I send it to Instagram. Not sure if it’s my phone or if it’s Snapchat not handshaking well. That reminds me, if you have issues, all you have to do is shake your phone while in the app and it brings up an error message so you can report it.

Now you have the extras!
This adds to the fun of the app to keep it fresh. First up on the left, you have bitmojis! A bitmoji is an avatar you get to edit. Back in the day, there was the Bitstrip app which I loved. Bitstrips featured your bitmoji in all kinds of fun scenarios that just made your day brighter. They are so customizable though they look like you and it was so easy to love. Bitstrips, RIP, shut down about to years ago but their other app, bitmoji, stayed around is used for texting and even in your Facebook messenger. Now, bitmojis are easy to feature in your snaps. You can customize right from Snapchat. Next is the ability to create a geo-targeted story where others can add to it and you can specify who sees it. This happens on the swipe right screen where the other stories are, in the top right corner. To the right of that is the trophies! I’ve been using Snapchat a few years and still only have that many trophies so, it takes time.

Last, but not least, the geofilter. I’ve talked a lot about filters that make things pretty but a geofilter is way more. True – it can add to the aesthetic of an image but it’s typically branded. Historically, you had to go to Snapchat.com to go through the process of making a geofilter. You needed to upload an image that would be for users to add to their photos when they are within a certain radius of your business establishment. It is a pretty cheap form of branding, considering. So much so that it’s not JUST for businesses! It’s common to have a filter for your own private events. However, just today they released the ability to create a filter from your phone. Convenient.

If you’re wondering how this can help your business, the geofilter is your answer. There are massive advertising campaigns from multi-million dollar companies on Snapchat but if you’re looking to market more locally then setting up a geofilter can be economical and an easy wao to encourage your customers to get engaged and help spread the branding. I would not recommend having a filter up every day, unless you just want to. Put one up on your highly concentrated foot traffic days and/or when you’re hosting a big event. Sure, it’s a younger demo app but it isn’t limited strictly to youth culture. Know your audience and your customers. There’s nothing you’ll lose from giving it a try one weekend.


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