This is the first part of an occasional series breaking down popular social media platforms.
Snapchat. It’s a favorite social media app for students, and one that continues to baffle those born prior to 1986. Ignore it at your peril, because this platform is now used daily by 100 million people, brands and universities. What’s the appeal? Siobhan Sullivan, BC News & Public Affairs Assistant, walks us through the basics.
Launched in 2011, Snapchat has become a place for friends to connect, meet new people and share experiences. Like all social media apps, Snapchat has been updated numerous times. First adding filters, followed by videos, texting, money transfers, geotags, stories, and now face filters.
At the most basic level, “snaps” are real-time, spontaneous pictures or videos taken and shared with friends for up to 10 seconds. By default, Snaps disappear from the screen once they are viewed – unless a friend decides to keep it through a screenshot. In fact, the only way to “save” a snap is to screenshot. Taking one will notify the sender that you did so.
If you opened a snap too fast or missed the image, you now have the ability to replay. One replay every 24 hours is free and additional replays can be purchased.
Here is a rundown of a few basic functions:
There are three main ways to add friends on Snapchat.
Add by Username: If you know the username of someone you wish to add on Snapchat, enter it in the find field. Tap the square plus sign next to the username and it should turn purple, indicating you have sent them a request.
Add from Address Book: Choosing this option will link your phone contacts to Snapchat. How your contact appears in your phone (i.e., their name) is how you will find them on Snapchat. Just like adding by username, find the person you want to add and click the plus sign. It should turn purple when the request has been sent to private users. Public accounts allow a follow without approval.
Add by Snapcode: One of Snapchat’s newer features is Snapcode, a personalized code for every Snapchat user (think: bar code or QR code). You can add friends this way by taking a photo of someone’s Snapcode (companies have been making it their Twitter profile picture) and uploading it to the ‘add by snapcode’ option.
SENDING A SNAPCHAT:
Snapchat has numerous options to sending a snap. These include: photos, videos, messages, and stories.
Photo: Snaps are most commonly sent in photo form. To do this, choose the direction you want the camera to face (upper right hand corner on the Snapchat screen) either direct the camera at you (selfie!) or the opposite direction. Press the large circle once and there you have a Snapchat photo. You can also draw on the photo and/or add filters. More to come on that later.
Video: Sending a Snapchat in video form is just as easy as sending a photo. This time, instead of tapping the circle once, you will hold it down until you have what you want to send, or the time runs out. Videos also have new filters.
Messaging: Snapchat introduced messaging to keep up with the apps like Facebook and Kik, both of which allow photo/video sharing and messengers. Snapchat messaging is simple. You go to your Snapchat log and click the upper left hand ‘talk bubble’. You will be taken to a “chat with…” screen. Here, you can choose a friend to message. OR, you can go to your Snapchat log, if you want to immediately respond to a Snapchat you just received, slide left on that friend’s name and just type a message.
Stories: Snapchat Story is one of the app’s more popular features. To post something to your story, take a photo or video and on that screen there is a plus sign. Choose this option and a pop-up will appear asking you if you want to post this to your story. Choose yes. Now this Snapchat is available to all of your friends for 24 hours. To delete a story tap the icon next to your story, then choose the trashcan at the bottom of the photo. To see who views your story, go to the ‘story’ page, click the three vertical dots next to your story, a drop down of all your posted stories will appear. Views will show up via an eye icon with a number. That number indicates views. To see who those views are from, click the eye. (See some brands who are putting together some exceptional snap stories.)
–Viewing other stories: To view a friend’s Snapchat story, open the app. If there is a new story, the bottom right corner will be purple indicating a new snap. Click the box and this will bring you to your story page. There, all new stories will be listed. Open one and advance through the snaps by tapping the screen. Friends are notified if you viewed their story.
–Viewing Discover stories. Popular events (debates, games, Olympics) now give access to people who can’t be there in person. Discover includes stories from companies like ESPN, Food Network, and publications like Cosmopolitan and the Wall Street Journal. You can watch these stories just like any other story.
Photo/Video Filters: There are numerous photo filters to use every time you snap. After taking a photo, slide left on the screen until you find the filter you want. There are two alternative colored filters and a black and white one. There’s also a speed (mph or km/h) filter, a temperature filter, a time stamp filter, and geotags. To change from mph-km/h or from Fahrenheit-Celsius in their respective filters, tap the screen where the filter appears and it should change.
Special Video Filters: Snapchat video recently added some new special features.
Slow down: Scroll filters until you find the snail. This will slow the video down.
Speed up: Scroll to the rabbit icon, this will speed up the video.
Super speed: Scroll to the rabbit with wind icon, this causes the video to go faster.
Reverse: Scroll to the rewind/reverse icon. This will play your video in reverse.
Geotags: Geotags are location filters. BC has *a few.* One of the most popular is of Gasson Hall, another says “Boston College”. If you travel, chances are you will discover new geotags. Location services in your phone must be turned on (and allowed for Snapchat) for geotags to work. Just like the other filters, scroll until you find the one you want.
Text on Snapchats: If you want to add text to a photo or video Snapchat, click the T (after taking the Snapchat) in the upper right hand corner. This will provide a text space for you to type your message.
Drawing: If, instead of text on your snap you want to draw, click the pen icon. You can also change the color by tapping the color wheel. Fun fact: If you want a specific color but can’t get it by the color wheel, click the main color you want and hold your finger down dragging it across the screen. You will see the color changing, choose the color you want. There’s also an undo button after drawing.
Emoji’s: You can also add emoticons (or Emoji’s) to your Snapchat. Just like the texting and drawing icons, to add an Emoji to your Snapchat, click the paper icon next to the Text icon after you take your snap. Emoji’s will appear – choose the one you want. Fun fact: To resize your emoji, use two fingers on the emoji of choice, and move them apart, the emoji should get larger or smaller. To move the location of the emoji, use one finger to reposition it.
Fun Filters: To add a fun filter (eye lazers, princess crowns, etc.) turn the camera towards yourself(ie), and hold down on the screen (where your face is). An outline of your face will appear and at the bottom, different filters will appear in circles. Choose the one you want and then take a photo or video.
Multiple Filters: If you want to use more than one filter on a Snapchat, you can! First, choose the main filter you want (color, black and white, etc.) then hold down with one finger on the screen and scroll left until you find your next filter. If you want a third filter, you can do this again.
OTHER TIPS/ADDITIONAL READING:
-Brands use Snapchat stories for promotion, but this platform is for real-time content. Don’t overproduce, or your friends and followers will be turned off.
-If a friend sends you questionable content, block or delete them. Simply click their name and choose block, delete, or report.
–Teenagers are much better at snapchat than you. Sorry. When approaching this platform, bring students or younger staff into brainstorming sessions.