Snapchat 101: The basics for Snapchat virgins

We Are Social is hosting a 101 special on Snapchat as part of Social Media Week London. Considering your first foray into the platform? Nick Cavanagh from our editorial team has helpfully captured the basics below.

Snapchat 101
Snapchat? That’s just for teenagers to share inappropriate photos, right? Wrong. Whilst sex scandals are still rampant (kids will be kids), it’s undeniable that Snapchat has turned the social media world upside down. With more than 100 million active Snapchatters using the platform each day and huge brands like Universal Studios investing big bucks for a presence, it’s time you took notice.

What is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to create videos and ‘snaps’ (photos), which can be personalised with filters and doodles. After a few seconds, the snap disappears forever, presumably into the realm of missing socks and loose change behind the sofa.

Who uses Snapchat?
You’d be mistaken if you thought Snapchat was dominated by teenyboppers. On any given day, Snapchat reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States. What’s more, Snapchat’s fastest growing demographic is people aged 25 to 44 – a lucrative age group. Numbers like these might even get Zuckerberg quaking in his boots.

How do you Snapchat? The basics
I know, ‘the kids make it look easy’, but hear me out, it isn’t as complex as you think. Snapchat lets you take images and videos and send them to your mates, but they can only see them for up to 10 seconds. Tap once for a picture or hold the button down for a video, choose who you want to send it to – and hey presto, your masterpiece is complete. Welcome to the future, comrades.

Now seems a good point to stress the first rule of Snapchat; you’re not supposed to screenshot a snap – but everybody’s doing it. Snapchat is designed to be an ephemeral platform with images disappearing after a set time. But the reality is that brands log screenshots as part of their brand insights, and friends screenshot photos for, well, a variety of reasons. So while in theory Snapchat is an ephemeral space, it’s probably wise not to share anything that you wouldn’t want to resurface at some point in the future.

Moving on… Here are a few more features you should know about.

Why should brands care?
The app has matured from a somewhat salacious selfie sanctuary to a potentially powerful part of a brand’s marketing strategy. Initially cautious, brands are now taking the reins and sending snaps like there’s no tomorrow. 

Brands who nail it
Taco Bell shattered all Snapchat records, reaching 224 million views in one day with their lens.

Burberry opted to launch their AW16 collection by creating an intricate Snapchat campaign inspired by a fake heist

… and publishers like Cosmo post daily editions of their stories to Discover, putting news just one swipe away from your BFF’s selfie.

Celebs who can’t get enough of it
Not one to feel left out, celebrities are taking the Snapchat world by storm with A-listers such as Kylie Jenner and Cesc Fàbregas garnering audiences which rival those of TV shows. Even the White House opened its doors to Snapchat earlier this year.

What’s the future for Snapchat?
In 2013, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, founders of Snapchat, were asked, “Is this a sex-ting app?” Three years on, with 54.5 million downloads this year alone, it’s safe to say that it’s much more than that. In the last year there’s been a huge increase in the number of users aged 25 and older. That’s great for business, but is it scaring the kids off? I mean, it’s probably not cool to have your mum snapping you. The question is, can Snapchat innovate to stay relevant, especially now competitors are beginning to catch on?  Only time will tell, but in the meantime, what are you waiting for young grasshopper? Go snap away!

Join We Are Social to explore the future of Snapchat at our 101 Special to learn From The Experts On How To Master The Platform on Friday, September 16. For more information and booking details visit Social Media Week London.