The same things that make Snapchat fun can also make it frustrating to learn.
Snapchat ultimately leaves it up to you to figure out its features—in fact, it encourages you to discover them by accident.
So if you don’t “get” Snapchat, it’s not because of your age. More likely, it’s just because you haven’t spent enough time learning it beyond the basic “snap and send” features of this social media marketing platform.
For those who stick with Snapchat, however, the social app is likely to earn a permanent spot on their smartphone’s home screen for the way it draws out the most authentic side of you.
Whether you’re marketing your business or just having fun, whether you're new to Snapchat or looking to take it to the next level, these 14 Snapchat tips are bound to give you a newfound love for the app.
1. Add more than one filter to a single Snap
Once you’ve snapped a picture or a video, you can swipe through several filters that you can apply over your Snap—from standard image filters to temperature, speed and location based filters.
But what many people don’t know is that you can apply multiple filters by holding down on your screen with one finger to keep your current filter, while swiping through to add more.
2. Buy On-Demand Geofilters—they’re cheaper than you think!
On-demand Geo-filters are fairly inexpensive, and priced according to time frame, location, and square footage you want to rent. In fact, it can be as low as $5 for a few hours to get your own temporary Geofilter.
You can use them strategically for events or to market to a location where you know your target audience will be pulling out their phones to Snap their lives.
Photo credit: Taco Bell
3. Download your Snaps and upload them elsewhere
One of Snapchat’s shortcomings is the fact that the only people who know what you’re up to on Snapchat are the people who follow you.
An easy way to get around this is to download your Snaps and give them a more permanent home on another channel like Instagram, Twitter or elsewhere to “tease” your Snapchat presence.
You can download your Snaps by taking a screenshot or hitting the download arrow at the bottom of your screen when you're viewing a Snap. There's even an option to download your entire Story when you tap the 3 vertical dots when you're looking at the list of the day's Stories.
A good strategy for growing your following is to make a regular effort to increase awareness around your Snapchat presence. And that leads me to our next hack.
4. Get more followers by getting your Snapcode and Username URL out there
There are 3 main ways people can add you on Snapchat: they can manually add you by your username, they can scan your Snap Code, or they can click on your Snapchat User URL on mobile which redirects to the app.
But it's important to consider what device your audience is on or where they are when it comes to promoting your Snapchat presence.
If they’re on desktop or in the real world, snapping your Snapcode will be the easiest way to add you:
5. Snapchat can read normal QR codes too
Right now you might be thinking, “What? QR codes??” as you scroll up to the date of this post to make sure it wasn’t published in 2009.
But keep in mind that the main reason QR codes never caught on was the fact that there was no universal QR code reader that people actually adopted, nor were a lot of people even aware of what to do with a QR code.
For that reason, this might as well be a secret feature on Snapchat, but it's one that should at least pique your curiosity.
Now that Snapchat is taking up residence on smartphone home screens everywhere, QR codes could potentially make some kind of comeback, especially when it comes to connecting the offline and online worlds.
With explicit instructions, you could potentially direct people to a contest landing page, app download, phone number or a number of other strategic destinations.
Try it! Subscribe to Shopify’s blog by snapping the code below in Snapchat!
QR Code Monkey is a site that lets you create a variety of different types of QR codes for free, plus insert your own visual cues and branding to make them look nicer than the run-of-the-mill QR code.
6. Add music over your video Snaps
If you open Spotify or another music app, and then switch back to Snapchat, you can add a soundtrack when recording your video Snaps.
This lets you easily add another layer of creativity to your Snaps.
- Telling a story
- Staged performances
- Freestyle dancing
- Freestyle rap
- Whatever would be enhanced by music
Did you know? While you're holding down the camera button to record a video, you can zoom in and out with the same finger by sliding it up and down instead of pinching your screen with the other hand.
7. Create layers with stickers, filters, text, emojis, etc.
Most Snapchatters know you can turn your captions into larger text, apply filters, as well as adjust the size of stickers by pinching them.
Tap, drag, and drop different elements over one another to get them to work together.
Combine all this together and you can create truly unique Snaps that "augment reality" in wonderful ways.
8. You can change the color of specific words in your text
You might know that you can change the color of your drawing tool and your text.
But you can also change the color of specific words by tapping and holding to highlight part of the text before selecting a color.
What's more, if you hold down your finger inside the color selection bar and drag it anywhere on the screen, you can access a much broader range of colors.
9. Check for new Lenses daily, and whenever you travel
Lenses make use of Snapchat’s face recognition technology to apply a mask over your face. Simply hold your finger down over your face, or someone else's until the app recognizes it. Then you'll be able to select from a variety of facial overlays from a panda to the oh-so-famous unicorn that vomits rainbows.
Many lenses makes regular appearances, but you’ll also see sponsored and limited time lenses that you can use, so check it frequently.
Your selection of Lenses will also change depending on where you are, so keep an eye on them whenever you travel.
10. Create title cards for longer Snapchat stories
Snapchat Stories can get long and hard to follow, especially if you have multiple "segments" in a single day.
That's why it's good to upload a larger number of shorter Snaps (roughly 3 seconds each) to keep your audience invested.
This is also where title cards come in handy.
Snapping a wall or some other background can give you a canvas to create a message or a piece of "Snap art" for your audience to read and signal the next part of your Snap Story.
Since the default white font can be hard to read, it's a good practice to also color over it using the drawing tool to make your words pop!
11. Diversify your content mix
Most of our lives, however interesting, can get repetitive as we go about our daily routines. And Snapchat can get stale if you regularly share the same things every day.
That’s why it’s important to diversify your Snaps—to develop your own content mix—to maximize interest and engagement. People are going to be less inclined to seek out your Snapchat Stories if they know what to expect.
Luckily there’s no shortage of types of content you can push out:
- “How it’s made” videos
- "A day in the life" videos
- Quotes presented using Snapchart art
- DIY tutorials
- "Takeovers" by partners/celebrities
- And more!
Here’s a clip from one of Shopify's own educational DIY Snap Stories:
12. Track your Snap stats to improve your efforts
Because of the temporary nature of Snapchat, it’s actually much harder to go back and analyze the performance of your Snaps over time.
Instead, I recommend you track the performance of your Snaps and the growth of your following, especially in the beginning, to look for patterns as to what works and what gets the most engagement.
Here’s what you’ll want to track:
- Views tell you how many times your Snap has been viewed (you can slide your finger up on a Snap to see specifically which of your followers have viewed it)
- Screenshots indicate the number of people who saved your Snap for later, or to take a closer look.
- New Followers you get per day, and any promotion you did to attract them, keeping in mind that it’s difficult to find out the exact number of followers you have.
- Timing of your Snaps will indicate when your Snaps get the most views and on what days.
13. Reach new audiences with “Snapchat Takeovers"
Giving the keys to your Snapchat account to a celebrity or partner with a sizeable audience is a good way to grow your following.
It also injects a healthy dose of variety. Your Snaps can start in Toronto and easily migrate to Hong Kong by just giving someone else your login info.
Just remember to agree on best practices and ideal outcomes. You’ll probably want to switch up your password afterwards too.
14. Use shortened URLs as a substitute for links
You can’t add clickable links to your Snaps, so it can be hard to direct viewers to take action outside the platform.
But you can use bit.ly or other URL shorteners to display links that are easier to remember and follow up on.
Snapchat isn't just a new medium—it's a mindset
In the beginning, Snapchat might just seem like a way to temporarily capture and share moments. Eventually, however, you'll start to see each Snap as a canvas.
Whether you're using Snapchat to engage your customers or just build a following, the best way to learn the ins and outs of the platform is to draw, add stickers, play with the text, and just flex your creative muscles.
Many attribute the authentic behavior you find on Snapchat to its ephemerality—the fact that its content is literally here today and gone tomorrow.
But the other way Snapchat encourages authenticity is by giving you the freedom to mix reality and imagination. For that reason—and businesses on the platform should take note—Snapchat is more than just a medium. It's a new mindset around the way we share.