“Life’s more fun when you live in the moment.” — Snapchat slogan
Social media aficionados like to jump on the newest, shiniest objects on the internet and today there are few sites attracting more buzz than Snapchat.
The Verge reported in April 2016 that Snapchat has 100 million daily users who spend on average 25 to 30 minutes using the app. An estimated 60% of them use the app to create images and videos. Major brands that market to young adults and millennials are using this app to promote their wares. Buzzfeed, MTV, and Tastemade offer stories on Snapchat—and so do CNN and The Wall Street Journal.
If you’re wondering what Snapchat is, let me begin again. Quite simply it’s an image and video messaging application. It’s similar to WhatsApp, another messaging app, except that Snapchat’s messages are temporary in nature, and it supports two-way video messaging, similar to Skype but not as stodgy.
To learn more about the history of Snapchat and how to use it, there’s another good post and it’s by Gary Vaynerchuk on Medium.
Snapchat is not for every writer, but if you’re an author of teen, young adult, or new adult fiction, then you’ll want to consider it. There also seem to be a lot of romance writers on Snapchat.
Consider these statistics from the Business Insider:
- The majority of its users are female and between of 13 and 25.
- Two-fifths of 18-year-olds in the U.S. use it several times a day to check in with friends and some family members.
Marketing Dive offers an expanded view:
- Last year, Snapchat grew its 18-24 base by 56%, while its 25-34 year old users increased 103%.
- Older snappers are joining the site as well. According to comScore, the over-35 user base grew 84% last year.
- According to Snapchat, 12% of its almost 50 million daily users in the U.S. are between 35 and 54.
In 2015, Business Insider reported that according to a Comscore analysis, there are more millennials on Snapchat than any other social media platform. The vast majority of the millennial users are between 18 and 25 years of age.
Signing Up for Snapchat
If Snapchat intrigues you, go to your mobile phone and download the app to get started. You’ll need a username and password. Some bloggers recommend using a fun name. If you’re a teen, sure, pick a hilarious name your friends will like. But if you’re an author, use the name that appears on your book covers.
Once you sign up, you’ll need to confirm your email. Soon you’ll receive a series of fun, informative images and Team Snapchat will send you a video of instructions on how to use the app.
To add your profile image, tap on the ghost. You can stay in one position or move your head around to create a GIF avatar.
To revise your settings, click on the gearshift. Here you can:
- Change your password
- Change your email
- Set up your login verification
- Decide whether your want to be notified of incoming Snaps by a ring or sounds.
- View your friend emojis and filters (To use a filter, swipe left once you take an image.)
- Decide who can contact you
- Determine who can view your stories (stories are a collection of images or snaps)
- Contact support
- Clear your browser data and conversations
- Block users
- Log out
Snapchat recently released its Chap 2.0, which adds:
- video chat,
- audio notes,
- and stickers to the platform.
Video views have taken off. Presently, Snapchat users generate 10 billion daily video views.
Every social media website has its own vernacular and Snapchat isn’t any different. Here’s a list of terms to be aware of.
- Snaps are photos and videos. After a friend views a snap, it self-destructs.
- Filters: You can overlay one of several filters on images you take.
- Stories are collections of snaps that last up to 24 hours.
- Snap Score: This is the total number of snaps you have sent and received, which shows up next your name.
- Snapstreak: When you send messages to the same friends several days in a row, you are officially on a Snapstreak.
- Discover: This is probably where you’ll end up going first to better understand Snapchat content. The Discover tab lists a variety of brands, including:
- Food Network
- People Magazine
- Wall Street Journal
- and others.
Just swipe from left to right to view the brand’s stories and select one to read by tapping on an image.
As with most social media sites, each time you visit the app, there’s a newsfeed of updates and stories from the people or brands you follow.
When you’re in messaging mode (which is similar to using an instant messaging app), you can:
- click the image icon to access your camera roll,
- take a picture of yourself,
- hit the video icon to video conference with a friend or follower,
- or send a sticker.
As a test, I contacted Mark Coker. I’m sure he has better things to do than reply to a Snapchat test message from someone he doesn’t know but hey, it’s all in good fun, right? He responded right away with, “Hey.” A week later he sent me another message. By the way, his Snap Score is 3,202.
Who’s on Snapchat?
Here is a list of authors, bloggers, and publishers on Snapchat.
- Jane Friedman (@janefriedman)
- Mark Coker (@MarkCoker)
- Nick Stephenson(@NickStephenson)
- Martha Sweeney (@MathaSweeney)
- Stephanie Taylor (@cleanreads)
- The Graduated Bookworm (@TheGraduatedBookworm)
- Angeline M. Bishop (@AngelineMBishop)
- Donna Hup (@DonnaHup)
- Riverhead Books (@RiverheadBooks)
- Alfred A. Knopf (@aaknopf)
- Crown Publishing (@CrownPublishing)
- Frances Caballo (@FrancesCaballo)
- Kate Tilton (@K8Tilton)
- John Green (@JohnGreen)
- Whitney Hoy (@PrideTheSeries)
Snapchat Posting Tips
Here are some general tips to get you started.
- Want to grow a following on Snapchat? I’ve noticed people using their Snapchat avatar as their Twitter avatar and including a call to action to attract new followers to Snapchat.
- Snapchat thrives on original content. Try not to repurpose images here. Create original videos just for this app.
- Create stories of several snaps you create.
- As with all social media, engage with your followers and readers. And engage with other authors.
What are people doing on Snapchat? Here are a few examples:
- Stephanie Taylor offers tips on publishing.
- Crown Publishing created short videos – a couple of seconds – of its authors showing their latest book.
- The Graduated Bookworm, who is a book blogger on BlogSpot, took a picture of a bag of books she recently purchased. (She doesn’t reveal her name on her social media profiles except for her first name and the first initial of her last name, Morgan A.)
- Mark Coker uses Snapchat to send pictures. I asked him if he uses Snapchat to promote Smashwords authors and he replied, “I can.”
- Chloe Okoli told me, “I haven’t used Snapchat as much as I thought I would so I don’t have much to say on how I use it for author purposes.”
Angeline M. Bishop sent me the longest response to my query. She writes New Adult novels and is an active Snapchat user. She said this during a chat:
“Snapchat is a great way for readers to see behind the velvet rope. Authors have a mystique about themselves and we are generally very private people. Snapchat helps readers see who their favorite authors are and helps them discover writers.
“I like to engage my readership and take part in things they are doing. The New Adult genre is exactly what the average Snap likes too read to college campus life is big on Snapchat.
“There’s also a network of wonderful marketers here. They help you connect with your readership and encourage you to get to know the other Snapchat personalities. My advice to other authors would be … to think of Snapchat as a fun pool party. You get a chance to peek into someone’s life and socialize for a moment. Don’t take yourself too seriously, have fun, and comment on the things you find interesting.”
Riverhead Books promoted books by its writers by creating a series of images and publishing them as a story. Here’s one of them.
Here’s a picture of a bag of books that the Graduated Bookworm posted.
Except for the short videos of authors holding their books that Crown Publishing posted, I didn’t see any overt marketing. What I did find were authors giving their readers an inside view into an author’s life. I found everything from Stephanie Taylor’s son sleeping to other author’s images of Obama. Here’s a glance of the images I found.
Perhaps Stephanie Taylor, with this image, is reaching out to Millenial moms, who are readers of hers. It’s a precious video that reveals the life of the author as a mom.
Angeline M. Bishop likes a certain phrase from President Obama’s commence address and shared it with her followers.
Stephanie Taylor shares her preference for a cold cup of java with plenty of whipped cream on top.
Angeline M. Bishop shares her appreciation for The Game of Thrones while letting readers know that she’s too tired to watch it tonight.
Donna Hup shares a short clip of a live music video.
Are you on Snapchat? Let us know in the comments if there are other ways that you like to use this social media network with more daily users now than Twitter.