Have you taken the plunge and signed up for a Snapchat account? If you have, you are not alone. Over 100 million people are on Snapchat daily making it the fast growing social network to date! Forty-one percent of 18-34 year olds log into the platform everyday. Learn more about Snapchat and its statics.

When I first learned about Snapchat, I thought there was no way I would ever make an account because I didn’t see the value in it. As the platform has evolved and grown, I’ve noticed an increasing number of bloggers and creative entrepreneurs joining Snapchat. Recently, I created a Snapchat account to start experimenting. As with any social media platform, I found there was a learning curve, but if you follow my Snapchat guide, you will be a pro before you know it! This is a long one, but if you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend it.

Getting Started with Snapchat

If you have never used Snapchat before, the first thing you want to do is download the app to your phone, iOS or Android. Once installed, you create your account. When selecting your username, I would recommend using your name or business name so other can easily find you. (Note: At this time you cannot change your Snapchat username without emailing Snapchat and asking them to change it, so choose wisely.) Snapchat will also ask you to verify your phone number so that way friends who have you in their contact list can easily find you. (You can also choose to turn the option off.)

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter GuideWhen you have successfully created a Snapchat account, you will find yourself at the home screen where you can create stories and snaps. Before doing that, tap the ghost icon at the of the screen so you can finish customizing your profile settings. Select the cog in the top right corner of the screen. You can enter your name, update your phone number and turn off the option to let others find you by phone number by selecting Mobile Number. You can also adjust notifications and who can contact you. Currently, everyone can send me snaps, but if I start receiving unwanted snaps, I will update my settings.

Adding Friends

Now that your account is set up, go back to the the previous screen with the yellow box with a ghost cut out. The yellow box with the ghost in it is your snapcode, which is unique to your profile. Other users can take screenshots of your snapcode and upload it to the app to find you. If you tap the ghost in the middle, you can take a selfie profile photo.

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter GuideFrom this screen, you can also find friends so you can view their stories. Unless you have your friends usernames or snapcodes ready to go, I would suggest adding friends from your address book. To add a contact, all you need to do is click “+ Add” to the right of their username.

Navigating Snapchat

Now, return to the homescreen by swiping up on the small white arrow at the bottom of the settings menu. You should be back on the screen with the camera enabled. If you swipe left from the homescreen, you will be taken to the “Chat” screen where you can receive snaps and notifications. If you swipe right from homescreen, you will land on the “Stories” screen. Here you are able to view your most recent stories, friends’ stories and live stories.

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter Guide

Creating a SNAP or STORY

There are two different ways to share content on Snapchat – a snap or a story. Snaps (think direct message) are an image or video last 1 to 10-seconds and can be sent to 1 or more users. Once a snap is viewed, it expires. A story is one or more snaps complied together. Friends (or who ever you select) can view your stories an unlimited amount of times until it expires. Each individual snap in a story lives for 24 hours.

Now that you have all of that down, you can now create a snap or story which can be an image or video. To create content, tap the white button in the center of the homescreen to take a photo or hold it down to take a video. You can record videos that are 1-10- seconds long. You can also tap the button on the top right or double tap the screen to switch the camera if you want to take a selfie.

Dressing Up Your Snaps

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter Guide

When you have recorded/photographed your content, you can spruce up your image or video. Try swiping right for different filters ranging from the current temperature to location-based templates and more.

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter Guide

Snapchat also has a popular feature called, “Lenses.” They range from a floral crown to a dog-face and more. To add one of these to your content, hold your finger over the subject’s face. Once it registers, you can scroll through and experiment with different lenses.

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter Guide

If you want to add text to your image, click the “T’ at the top to select text. It will add an opaque black box to your image. If you tap the “T” again, the font is aligned and you can change the font color and size. Tapping the “T’ one last time will center your text. When you are finished typing your message, you can place the text where ever you want on the screen.  If you want to add a sticker or write/draw on the image, follow the same steps as above.

SHARING YOUR SNAP OR STORY

In the bottom left had of your snap, you can adjust the amount of time others can view it (1-10 -seconds). If you want to save the image, click on the small arrow pointing down and it will save a copy to your photostream on your phone. If you select yes to the next one because your content will be added to your story.

When you have finished your content, tap the blue arrow. Here you can decided who will see your content. If you just want your content to go to a specific person, select them from your contact list. You want it to be shared with all of your friends, select, “My Story.” Tap the blue bar at the bottom and your snap or story will be shared!

Viewing Snaps and Stories

When you open the Snapchat app, if there are new snaps or stories for you to view, the “Chat” icon will be blue and the “Story” icon will be purple.

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter Guide

To watch your friends stories, navigate to the “Stories” page. Any recent stories you have shared will be at the top. Under “Recent Updates”, you should see all of your friends stories, with the most recent updates on top. Tap on the story you want watch and it will play all of the snaps that make up your friends story and then move to the next story on the list. If you don’t want to watch all of the snaps in the story, just tap the screen to move on to the next snap. Remember, you can re-watch stories as often as you want for 24-hours.

The Ultimate Snapchat Starter Guide

While watching a friend’s story, you can send a “Chat” message by sliding up on the word chat at the bottom of the screen. The clip will continue as you type your message.

Navigate to the “Chat” screen to view snaps, chat messages and notifications. Snapchat complied a helpful list of all of the icons and their meanings. To watch a snap sent to you, tap on the message. Remember, you can only watch it twice before it disappears.

Snapchat Wrap-up

Snapchat is truly a robust app with more features than I could ever share in a blog. Snapchat has a great Support area if you still have questions.

I don’t think I will be using Snapchat purely for business. Instead, I like the idea of sharing a behind-the-scenes look at my everyday life. Unlike Instagram, there is no reason to worry about styling your snap since they only last a day. Snapchat isn’t for everyone, but if you are interested, I highly recommend downloading the app and playing around with it.

If you have questions, just let me know and don’t forget to follow me on Snapchat!

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