Social media is like a sand dune: the landscape changes constantly. The wind changes direction and suddenly you have different social media platforms with different capabilities and different ways of engaging with your audience. In social media, the pace of change is relentless.
My point is, evolution in social media is frequent and it usually comes in the form of new platforms. Staying on the cutting edge requires you to learn all the new functions in a new format and with a completely different spin from anything you’ve seen before.
One of the more elusive platforms to be developed recently is called Snapchat.
Opinions vary widely when it comes to Snapchat, and from what I’ve found you either love it or hate it.
But what exactly is Snapchat anyway? Let me tell you.
However you feel, Snapchat is a useful platform to learn, even in a general sense. The concise, savvy, and fun nature of the app makes it a mainstay for millions of users daily, and it has a truly universal appeal once you get to know it. Here’s a quick how-to for Snapchat that can help you make the leap and start to utilize this truly powerful platform.
Snapping and Chatting
If I had to boil Snapchat down to a single word, it would be “quick.” That’s it, just quick. Snapchat is designed to allow users to be impulsive and spontaneous with their posts. The primary function of the platform, which is to visually chat with your friends, only allows your images and videos to last up to ten seconds. Ten seconds doesn’t sound like much, but you’d be surprised at what people can create within those limitations.
Once you take a picture or video on Snapchat, your work has just begun. You now have the option to choose how long you want your friend(s) to see your image, add text, overlay a filter, include an emoji, or even draw something using the app’s colour pallet. The final product you send out is only limited by your creativity.
Your Stories Feed
One of the more impressively social features of Snapchat is the Stories Feed. Anyone who wants to can actually extend their snaps to a duration of 24 hours and make them available for any of their friends to view. If a particular event occurs that you feel needs a longer tenure and greater exposure, Stories is the place to post it. You also have the option to include numerous snaps in your Story, which really allows you to make your posts read and feel like a story.
Say you go to a party one evening and want to share your experience. You snap a picture with your date, the buffet table, your host, and even your host’s new puppy. All you have to do is add the elements (text, filters, etc.) you think will help you tell the story of your evening, and add them to your feed as they come along. When you complete your final upload, you’ve successfully told your story for the next revolution around the sun.
Discover Something New
Need a quick update on major news stories? Check out the Discover section of Snapchat. Most news sources, along with major publications and anyone else you could imagine are constantly updating their Snapchat feeds to keep you in the loop. Everything from the Queen’s birthday to Taylor Swift’s new beau can find its way into your discover section. It’s honestly one of the best ways to stay in touch with pop culture to date, and sometimes finding out actual news doesn’t hurt either.
Real Time, All the Time
Snapchat’s fast-paced “here today, gone tomorrow” style paradoxically makes it one of the most laid back platforms currently available. The striking informality of almost everything that’s posted creates a sense of raw “realness” that other platforms can sometimes lack. Snapchat successfully taps into this energy using its’ Live feed. The results have been fairly staggering on a global scale.
For example, think about the festivities that flow around a major sporting event like the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio. Parties, parades, the Opening Ceremony, and all the various competitions from pole vaulting to football can actually be documented and curated by Snapchat. If you’re curious to know what events are going on, Snapchat’s Live feed allows you to see what others are posting from their viewpoint while the event is ongoing.
More importantly, it’s not uncommon at all to see videos and pictures from other major events like rallies, political galas, demonstrations, or social unrest on the Live section as well. Real time updates on Snapchat have actually managed to change the way we consume media as a whole. Just another example of how the relevancy and rawness of Snapchat differentiates it from all other platforms.