One week ago, I was sitting at the bar with my best friend Bonnie, and she said, “Hey, are you on Snapchat?”
I sheepishly shook my head no. I am almost 39, and while I love social media, I already felt like there were more than enough ways to get in touch with me – text, Facebook, Twitter, email, Instagram, and more. I didn’t want one more platform to monitor, figure out, and check for notifications.
However, I am a digital marketing consultant, coach, and speaker. I advise my clients every single day on all things social media, and they expect me (rightly so) to have my pulse on what’s popular and what’s useful.
But, despite the fact Snapchat is the second most powerful social platform in the U.S., I wasn’t using Snapchat.
Snapchat is not some fly-by-night, faddish platform. That’s what makes it all the more embarrassing for a social media strategist to not be actively using it, or at least have a passing understanding of it.
So, after a few margaritas, I dove in to the world of Snapchat. And I LOVED it.
My first snap:
Bonnie and I were laughing so hard at the bar, using the various lenses, face-swapping, and the like, that the other patrons were staring at us.
“Oh, that’s sweet,” they probably thought to themselves. “Two women in their late 30s catching up with photos of their kids.” But that wasn’t the case at all!
It’s important for you to know that I resisted Snapchat because I didn’t want one more thing to check. I didn’t need one more way for people to contact me. I still don’t! But the fun, ephemeral, spontaneous nature of the platform is addicting.
Here is what I’ve learned after just one week of using Snapchat:
1) It’s completely unintuitive and almost impossible to figure out.
If you don’t have someone showing you how to do it, like my bestie Bonnie, you will need to watch tutorials online, or find a local teen to do it for you.
Trust me – after you download and open the app, you will have NO IDEA how to use it at first. What are those three lines? What is that lightning bolt and X? How do I create my profile snap? I’ve been using it every day for one week and still have no idea how to do certain things.
Want to know how to add to your “Story”? Or how to send a “direct snap”? Or watch other people’s snaps? HA! I don’t have time or patience to tell you in this post. But here are some resources for you.
2) It is very freeing.
There is something to be said about being on a platform with very few analytics and benchmarks. As a marketing professional and consultant, I cringe at not being able to measure my social media output. However, Snapchat isn’t about numbers, or competition, or “influence”. It’s just FUN.
There are no numbers taunting you, telling you how many likes your snap has (they don’t receive likes or shares). It’s not about popularity, or hearts, or faves, or retweets. You can’t even see how many people are following you!
Sure, you can see how many views each snap you post receives – but only you can see that. You aren’t competing with others on the platform because you have no idea how many views they received! The posts disappear so you can’t overanalyze. This is pretty terrifying, but also liberating, for a marketing professional hell bent on measurement, data analysis, and social media ROI.
You can just be yourself, truly, and not worry about likes or shares. I am sure that marketers will come along and ruin the platform by introducing analytics and insights, but for now, snap away and be fairly oblivious as to how your snaps are being received.
Update: I just found out that the number next to your username is your “Snapchat score”. When I perused their help section to find out what exactly that means, all I could find was this: “Your Snapchat score is a special equation combining the number of Snaps you’ve sent and received, Stories you’ve posted, and other factors.” So basically, whatever they determine is important. I love this.
My daughter Isabelle loves to play with the lenses – they change every day:
3) It’s incredibly genuine.
The best, and sometimes most aggravating, aspect of Snapchat is that you cannot go back and edit your snaps, and you can’t upload anything to the site. You have to take and post photos and videos (snaps) as they happen! This leads to a spontaneity and genuineness that cannot be planned.
A lot of people like to post on Snapchat because they know things won’t come back to damage them in a job search. If you post a lot about your kids (as I do), you know that the snaps will disappear before they come of age and can get embarrassed. Nothing comes back to haunt you, so you are free to be pretty unfiltered and authentic.
4) It’s just FUN.
Remember when social media was fun? Remember when it wasn’t all about likes, comments, shares, and retweets? Remember when you didn’t have to edit yourself because now you are friends with clients, parents, grandparents, aunts, colleagues, and co-PTO moms?
In my experience, Snapchat is not necessarily useful in driving sales, or building my email list, or growing my website traffic. It’s just FUN! It’s what social media was DESIGNED to be – quick, fun, and very interactive.
My one-year-old loves it too:
Lesson learned – if you want to deepen your connection with your kids, siblings, cousins, anyone under 25 – you need to be on Snapchat.
And, you need to be ready for some serious unfiltered, genuine, TMI. Due to the ephemeral, fleeting nature of everything posted on the app (snaps from others disappear after you watch or view them), people tend to not hold back.
So grab your phone, download the app, and get snapping! Add me at jcsocial.