Today marks a month since I finally (third time lucky) downloaded social media app Snapchat and decided to give it a try. To give you some background, twice before this I’d given the channel a go – once on a night out while in the midst of FOMO as my friends snapped posey videos and secondly when I was asked to comment on Snapchat for Stylist Magazine and thought I had better learn what I was talking about!
Both times I left fairly miffed having not got to grips with the channel. Then at the beginning of May I decided to pivot my approach and create a channel for my online lifestyle magazine The Full Agenda. A behind the scenes look at some the things I’m up to for the site, as well as blogging and marketing tips which my readers always seem to be super interested in. Here are 18 of the things I’ve learned in that month.
1. Choose the easiest Snapchat username
Discovery on Snapchat is non-existent so it’s crucial that you make your username as easy as possible to find. When adding a user you have two choices: add by username or snap code. Unfortunately, even when you screenshot someone’s snap code and try to add it, it’s not always guaranteed to work. The easier the username = the easier it will be for people to add you.
2. People private chat more than you think
When it comes to Facebook and Instagram, the private messaging feature between you and anyone you aren’t closely involved with usually involves two scenarios: exe or spam. On Snapchat I was surprised to learn that the use of private chats is more frequent and more casual. I had users welcome me to the channel and ask where I was from, I had old colleagues and acquaintances send me snaps asking what I’ve been up to. Both male and female, with no ulterior motive other than that this is perfectly acceptable Snapchat etiquette.
3. Snaps really are just 10 seconds
I spent a long time trying to work out how to make my snaps longer.
4. Stories vs snaps
This took me a while but stories are a series of snaps paired together that anyone following you will have access to. Stories can be watched more than once and they don’t expire for 24-hours from each individual snap. I find this kind of annoying as I like to use a story per day to give a marketing tip or tool, however when the first snaps begin to expire you’re left with a confusing mishmash of stories! Kind of like if someone put the beginning of Snow White with the ending of 101 Dalmatians. However you can go back and delete your stories if you want to keep them more streamlined.
Snaps alternatively, are sent to individual users that you select and are only available to view once. They can’t be deleted. Although you can create a Snap, add it to your story and send it to individual users all from the sending panel.
5. Filters and images = good
This is something I learned very quickly – people respond well to creative snaps. Some are absolute masterpieces in fact! But as a general rule, filters, stickers and custom drawings all look fab. If you create a text caption on your snap, this appears as its title when you send it to your friends. I’ll be interested to test if this improves open rate!
6. Different arrows mean different things
Snapchat explain this better then I can but it took me a while to get to grips with all the different colours and shapes.
7. Refreshingly real
I’ve always found the prospect of ‘vlogging’ i.e. putting my voice and face out in candid moments hideously cringeworthy. Don’t get me wrong, I adore watching other people’s vlogs, I just never thought it would be for me. However, after the initial few Snaps where I cringed at my Essex accent I actually forgot to worry about what I looked like or sounded like and started to enjoy it. There’s something about taking a quick video as if you’re talking to a friend and putting it out that’s refreshing and real. I’ll take a snap over a perfectly poised Instagram flat lay anyway.
8. Learn from others
There are a few accounts that really helped me to learn more about the channel and how to use it to target different audiences. Before sending anything, I’d recommend spending a week or two just studying Snapchat as it has a lot of nuances and it’s really obvious when new users don’t know them! Unfortunately my main interests on social are marketing/tech and fashion/beauty so these are perhaps pretty bias! Here we go:
justinkan – Partner at Y Combinator
galagil – Social marketer
mike_mcgrail – Marketing Director at start up Administrate
chriskubby – American personal branding dude
filip.novak – digital guy
GaryVee – Gary Vaynerchuk
jvan2go – real estate and marketing
josieldn – fashion blogger
lydiaemillen – fashion & beauty blogger
inthefrow – lifestyle blogger
9. Turn the volume on!
The amount of snaps I’ve missed because I haven’t turned the volume on first. Doh! You only get one chance to play them remember, although you can choose one snap to replay per 24-hours.
Snapchat is not intuitive. Apparently this is because ‘snapchat should be learned with a friend’. Eventually you get used to it but basically from your front recording page you swipe right to watch other people’s snaps, left to see private messages and snaps and down to see your profile/add friends.
11. Story swipe down
It took me over a week to realise that you could swipe down on your story and view who had watched it. So there’s a nugget for you.
12. It took me five days to become addicted
Snapchat comes with a steep learning curve, I’ll agree. I googled so many things in those first few days including – what do the purple arrows mean? How do you record longer than 10 seconds at a time? (You can’t). How do I know who my friends are? (You don’t until you send to them). I also listened to Podcasts and read articles; My favourites being this Podcast from digital marketing guru Mike McGrail where he interviews Snapchat guru Gala Gil. This post from Buffer was also super helpful. However, after the initial learning curve was over, it became surprisingly addictive.
13. Discover – don’t bother
Personally I think the marketing arm of the channel where they allow brands to add content is pretty blah. Perhaps you’ll think differently?
14. There’s no ‘send all’
I hope I’m wrong on this account but I haven’t found a way where you can send your snap to everyone who has added you. This is annoying for two reasons: 1. Everytime you create a snap you have to manually select who you want to send it to and 2. Because you have people in your friends list who you added but haven’t added you back, you get an awkward ‘pending’ if you send them a snap and they aren’t following you. Has anyone found a work around for this yet? Let me know!
You can use the URL below to send people directly to your username. Handy 🙂
16. Chat messages disappear too
To private chat with your friends on Snapchat, you can swipe right on their username. However, like Snaps, chat messages disappear once you’ve read them. If you get distracted by the slightest thing like I do, you have to remember to actually read the message properly before you click off!
I always forget to use lenses but if you hold down on your face while snapping you’ll get access to a whole host of ‘lenses’ that you can add to your face. Including the well-documented dog face.
18. The new Twitter
As I keep telling everyone, the way people use Snapchat now is how we used to use Twitter in the early days. Where we actually spoke to each other directly and joined conversations, built communities and could speak to influencers as if they were regular, human beings. Rather than just spamming links and never reading anything back, which is how we use Twitter now of course. This means that there’s huge opportunity for marketers and brands (when used right) over the next 6-12 months to make the most of an unsaturated channel to build relationships and gain fans.
Somewhere down the line I’ll be creating a ‘Snapchat cheat sheet’ which documents a guide to the channel but for now, what do you think of Snapchat? Are there features you love? Do you see it becoming a huge marketing channel?
Let me know! And of course, add me on Snapchat 🙂 username: thefullagenda URL here: https://www.snapchat.com/add/thefullagenda