Snapchat 101: How to Use the Newest Social Media Craze

by Dan Welden on November 6, 2013

Image via The New York Times

Snapchat, a social media app, is making massive waves. Millions of users have joined the craze and loads of potential investors have their eye on it. In negotiations for it next round of investment, All Things Digital is reporting that Snapchat “has been in talks for another round of funding that values it at up to $3.6 billion.”

So what is Snapchat and how do you use it?

Snapchat is an easy-to-use photo and video sharing app. Snapchat is quite different than any other social media network. According to Snapchat, “We wanted a place to share awkward selfies and funny photos with our friends. Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion — not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.”

The question often arises “What’s the difference between Snapchat and just sending a picture or video of yourself in a text message, or uploading it to Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, etc.?”

First off, Snapchat says this is a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection. Snapchat has no filters or timers to assist you with getting the perfect picture.

How else does Snapchat differ? There are two main functionalities of Snapchat. One, you can message a video or photo to a friend or group of friends. That photo or video is only available to a user for a set length of time (up to 10 seconds). After which, the photo/video is no longer viewable. This allows users to be comfortable sharing more photos/videos. The second functionality is Snapchat’s storyline feature. Storyline allows users to add photos and videos to “My Story” which stitches everything you add together. Each piece of content you add is then available for 1 to 10 seconds but can be re-viewed for 24 hours. After 24 hours each photo/video will gradually disappear.

So how do you take a photo/video?

  • Aim at whatever it is you are wanting to capture
  • For a photo you tap the big circle at the bottom center of your screen
  • For a video you hold the circle down (Maximum of 10 seconds)
  • To cancel or recapture, you press the X button at the top left corner

Image via Snapchat.com

  • There is also a pencil icon that will display in the top right corner that lets you draw on your photo/video
  • If you prefer to type a message, you can tap the screen and a bar will display where you can type
  • For slightly longer messages, you can turn your phone sideways
  • Once you are finished with your message you can tap anywhere outside the message bar
  • You can then adjust the location of your message bar by placing your finger on the bar and sliding it to your desired location

Image via Snapchat.com 

Once everything is exactly how you want it, you will select one of four icons across the bottom of the screen. If it’s a photo, the first icon on the left is the timer. The timer allows you to set how long the image is viewable. The next icon gives you the option to download the photo/video to your phone. The third icon is “My Stories”. When selecting this icon, the photo/video will automatically be uploaded to your storyline and all of your friends will be able to view it. If you would like to add the image/video to your storyline and send it to friends, you will hit the final icon instead.

Wait! So you don’t have any contacts and need to add them. Snapchat makes it easy for users to add friends. There are two ways.

  • When you are in the “My Friends” screen, you can select the icon in the upper right corner.

Image via Snapchat.com

  • Then a new screen will display. On that screen, select the top middle icon which will then ask if you would like to allow Snapchat to access your phone book.

Image via Snapchat.com

  • Upon selecting “Allow Access”, a new screen will appear that will display anyone in your phonebook that already has Snapchat. You can then begin adding friends.

Image via Snapchat.com

  • If you have someone’s Snapchat username, you can click on the magnifying glass and search for them.

Image via Snapchat.com

Now that you have your people loaded, you can start selecting who you’d like to send your Snap too.

To view a snap when it comes in, just open Snapchat, which will display unopened Snaps. To view, just press and hold any unopened snaps.

Image via Snapchat.com

If you would like to view stories your friends have uploaded, return to the capture screen and select the icon in the lower right hand corner of your screen. To view the stories, press and hold any of the ones you’d like to view. If there are several stories stitched together, you can tap the screen with another finger and skip to the next photo/video.

Image via Snapchat.com

There’s nothing that prevents people from taking a screenshot or capturing it in some other way. However, that is not the point of Snapchat. The images are not supposed to be saved and if you do take a screenshot, it will notify the sender that a screenshot has been taken. Snapchat also recommends that you do not share anything that is potentially harmful to your reputation.

Additionally, there are several other functions to improve privacy like blocking users. These can be found at http://support.snapchat.com/ca/howto.

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Dan Welden

About Dan Welden

Dan works as a full-time associate at Qnary while continuing his studies in media at NYU. He has a strong background in marketing ranging from digital marketing to traditional print advertisements. As a marketing intern for INTRUST Bank Arena he developed a strong foundation in social media marketing where he was on a team that generated more than 13,000 new fans in six months through various contests, games, and fan incentives for reaching fan recruitment goals. He also has an advertising and graphic design background as the VP of Promotions for the Student Activities Council at Wichita State University. There, he oversaw a team of 10 people that created a two-time award-winning informative calendar, which was received by 14,000 students. Dan also managed his organization's website and was responsible for all social media outlets.

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