I know you’ve at least thought about trying Snapchat.

Maybe you’re quick to dismiss it because of its sexting heritage. Maybe you think it’s just another thing to learn. Maybe you’re thinking you’re just too old? That’s what I thought anyway.

Snapchat has more daily users than Twitter, Bloomberg recently reported. So I thought if someone could quickly run me through what it does, how to use it, and how it related to apps I knew (like Twitter or Instagram), I could then in fairness, cast my judgement.

Let me be that millennial. Here’s a quick tour of Snapchat and how it can work for writers and authors.

Table of contents

  1. Screenshots
  2. Bonus: 12 Simple Snapchat post ideas and examples
  3. How it’s different from other social networks
  4. Snapchat’s equivalents in other apps
  5. Glossary
  6. How it works
  7. Snapchat audiences and what they’re looking for
  8. Popularity and growth
  9. How and where to get started
  10. The signup process
  11. List of authors on Snapchat

Screenshots

Here’s a map of how the features of Snapchat fit together in the app. It’s all based around the camera.

Snapchat screenshots

Want my 12 simple Snapchat post ideas and examples?
Click here to get them

↑ Back to top

How it’s different from other social media networks

  1. Think of Snapchat as a photo/video messaging app, not so much a social media app with a feed, or timeline.
  2. The main screen of the app is your phone’s camera, there’s no feed of posts.
  3. The contact list is your feed of posts. You check-in by viewing your contacts, like you would in Apple’s Messages, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp.
  4. There’s no ‘Like’ button, unlike traditional social media apps. Instead, to show approval or to interact with a public Snap, you take a screenshot.
  5. You can’t publicly post just text. You’d take a photo and add it as a caption on top of images. For examples, if you wanted to quickly reply, but didn’t want to share your surrounds, you’d cover the camera, and take a black photo. Or of course chat directly.

↑ Back to top

Snapchat’s equivalent lingo in other apps

Feature Snapchat Instagram Twitter
Feed/Timeline Contact list Feed Home/Timeline
Post Snap Post Tweet
Like Screenshot Like Like
Chat/Private message Chat Instagram Direct Direct Message

↑ Back to top

Glossary

Snap
Photo or video taken with your device’s camera, sent to a privately to a user, or publicly as a Story.
Story
Publicly published sequence of snaps, visible for 24 hours. This is how brands post content on the platform for followers.
Friend
Person you’ve mutually connected with. Friends appear in your contact list.
Follower
Other people on the network that have added your account, but you have not mutually connected with. Followers do not appear in your contact list, but are can receive your public content – Stories.

snapchat features
Image: Snapchat

↑ Back to top

How it works

  1. Take a photo or a video.
  2. Add text, stickers, filters, or hand-drawn doodles.
  3. Share a Snap privately with one or more Friends, or publicly as a Story.
  4. Snaps sent directly to Friends are only viewable for a maximum of 10 seconds. Snaps can be re-watched once only, and it tells you when someone has re-watched.
  5. Stories stay active for 24 hours.
  6. Due to its messaging app heritage, you can see which accounts have seen a Snap. Can also see who's taken a screenshot of your Snap.

Snapchat’s Stories, Friends and Discover
Image: Snapchat

↑ Back to top

Snapchat audiences and what they’re looking for

If any of the rules above sound strange, your first question may be why would anyone want this, or how is this better than other apps?

I think it’s less about what it can do, and more about being where your audience is. If you writer for a YA under 30 crowd, they’re here. Just because you know how Facebook works, it doesn’t mean it’s the best channel to be using.

To millennials, it’s all about experiences. It offers a faster, more personal connection. Younger audiences want the raw, unedited feel of a ‘livestream’.

↑ Back to top

Popularity and growth

63% of Snapchat’s audience are aged between 18-34.

Snapchat now has more users than Twitter. It’s estimated 150 million people use Snapchat daily, compared to Twitter’s 140 million active daily users.

↑ Back to top

How and where to get started

You've probably tried or at least seen the face filters. If not, definitely check them out, they’re quite unique.

  1. My first tip is to secure your username now before it’s taken, even if you don’t have immediate plans to use it.
  2. Start by observing your favourite personalities, or media role models. Follow similar brands or friends and get a feel for what’s engaging.
  3. Snapchat goes hand in hand with Instagram. If you have a following on Instagram ask your followers to add you on Snapchat.
  4. Remember, Snapchat is new territory. It’s less crowded than other established networks. Jump in and have some fun.

↑ Back to top

The signup process

Once you’ve downloaded from your app store, there are four steps to sign up.

Snapchat sign up

↑ Back to top

List of authors on Snapchat

Julie Proudfoot has compiled a great list of authors on Snapchat. Get in touch with Julie and she’ll add you to the list.

“I use Snapchat because it’s fun, second to chat with author friends.”

—Julie Proudfoot, Author of The Neighbour

↑ Back to top

Wondering what to share on Snapchat?

Get my list of 12 simple Snapchat post ideas and examples here

Happy Snapping!