In last week’s post, “Why Your Business Needs Snapchat NOW” I gave you a few examples of how businesses can utilize Snapchat for marketing purposes, and action steps for spreading the word you’ve decided to jump the Snapchat train.
But what if you don’t know how to operate Snapchat?
No worries – this post is going to cover the bases for you.
This beginner guide will show you what the buttons mean, how to avoid losing Snaps (believe me, you WANT to know this one), and what the deal is with Stories.
So, let’s jump in!
1. It’s pertinent to stick to your branding usernames and make it easy for people to find you. My account username is, ahnahendrix, the same name for basically everything I have online. Keep it simple.
2. The account you set up will be tied to the cellphone it originates on, but that doesn’t mean that other cellphones can’t use the same account.
For example, my parents own a restaurant and want to incorporate Snapchat into their marketing, but there are three people involved with the marketing. No problem. Although it isn’t optimal, a user can use someone else’s account simply by signing in and signing out with a different username. It’s similar to how Instagram used to be.
A bit maddening, but until 3rd party developers build apps for us to more easily manage Snapchat, it’s the best we’ve got.
The first thing you will see when signing in is a camera screen with a bunch of buttons on it.
Here’s more explanation on the main screen buttons:
1. Flash – Camera flash.
2. QR code and friending options – A photo further down will go into greater detail, but this is where you can take a picture of your personal QR code and make it easy for people to find you, in addition to other friending options.
3. Camera switch – Front or back on your cell phone.
4. Snaps and chats – Clicking on this loads the Snaps (photo and video) and Snapchats (text messages) you receive. You can also go to this screen by swiping RIGHT.
5. Camera – Click it quickly for a photo. Hold down continuously to record a video.
6. Snapchat Stories. This takes you to the screen where your friend’s Stories are featured (more on that in a minute) and the Discover channels. You can also swipe LEFT to get to this screen.
The little ghost on the main screen at the top center will bring you to your main friending options. This QR code can be scanned by cellphones making it easy for friends/users to find your Snapchat account.
Take a screenshot to capture it and share it across your social networks, especially the visual networks (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) and in your email marketing.
You can Add Friends with your phone contacts or by searching for a username.
My Friends will show you the list of people who are your friends. This is where you can unfriend someone.
Taking a picture
From the main screen, when you take a picture, you are given a whole bunch of new buttons. Here’s some clarification:
1. Try again – Cancel your Snap (photo or video) and start over.
2. Add text – Include a message on your Snap. See below for more ways to do that.
3. Add color and draw – Offers a few varieties for you to draw all over your photo in an array of colors.
4. Timer – Decide how long you want the receiver of your message to be able to view it. After they’ve viewed it, the message will disappear, so if you message is more intricate, give them longer time.
5. Save to your phone – Does exactly that! Downloads the picture or video created to your cell.
6. Add Snap to your Stories – Add your photo or video to the Stories that are featured to your friends. Stories last 24 hours before disappearing.
7. Next – After taking your picture or video, you can click Next to choose exactly who you want to send it to or you can add it to your Stories.
Text can be arranged a multitude of ways. You can change font size and positions. It can be BIG..
*BIG messages must remain brief – there isn’t much room for lots of letters or emojis.
When it’s smaller there is a black background that highlights the text, which comes in handy.
As you can see my scarf doesn’t exactly offer the best background for seeing small text, so the black background helps significantly. Plus, smaller text also allows for more copy.
By swiping RIGHT from the main screen, you see the message panel. This is where your Snaps reside – photo, video, and text.
***It’s important to remember that you MUST hold down continuously on the Snap to view it until the end. If you let go, it will be lost forever.
The top left icon represents Snapchat text messages. This is what you click on to start texting with a friend.
The top right icon represents the same as the left, but for photo or video messages.
The list below shows the history of Snaps, received and sent. Blue represents Snapchats (text) messages, purple are videos, and red are photos. The arrows represent sent messages and the squares are received.
If you swipe LEFT from the main screen, you’re taken to the Stories screen. Stories are photos or videos that last for 24 hours. They’re shared with everyone on your friend list and anyone who adds you.
*Be cautious in what you share for Stories because they are public unless you keep your account private.
In addition, it’s where your friend’s Stories are located, so you can watch them for 24 hours. Recently, Snapchat has been showcasing long stories covering holidays or important events that are fun to watch, i.e. the Super Bowl, Oscars, and holiday happenings. They’re interesting to watch.
The top right button is for the Discover channel. More on that below.
The Discover channel is a pre-party of all the goodness we have to look forward to.
It shares 12 different news channels that display videos and articles about the latest trends and topics. But laced between the videos are subtle ads.
This is just one of the places Snapchat will turn into advertising realty in the future.
An example of a news piece on the CNN channel.
Have to say that although these are trending news topics, the Snapchat videos/articles take a different approach and share interesting back information.
So now that you’ve learned the basics for Snapchat, download it, choose your username, add friends and start playing!
As I mentioned in the previous post, Snapchat is still growing, but now is the perfect time to begin getting used to Snapchat and building an audience.
As you can see, Snapchat is quite easy to use. In fact, once you get the hang of it you’ll be surprised you ever need this tutorial 🙂