What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is one of the hottest mobile-messaging apps, especially for the younger demographic. Though, obvious with the current growth rate, people of all ages are flocking to the Social Media platform.Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 2.27.23 PM

Dating back to 2011, Snapchat’s grown from it’s original premise of sending quickly-deleted photos and texts to now allowing users to add captions, drawings and filters to their photos and videos, otherwise known as snaps. Unlike other Social Media sites, you can view snaps for a maximum of 10 seconds. Anything shared through the service self-destructs, theoretically leaving no evidence it existed. However, a quick screen grab preserves the image.

Overcoming some initial bad press for the freedom it allowed users to share unfiltered images without much accountability, Snapchat has proven to be a viable app. It’s become a convenient and fun way to send photos and videos to friends and family.

Download and sign up

Snapchat can be downloaded for free on most mobile devices. When you first launch the app, you’ll be required to sign up for the service. You’ll enter your email address, password and birthday. img_5039_custom-af0cf5bd1fd227539f26261c508d095391604d74-s800-c15You’ll also be required to verify your identity by sharing your cell number. Snapchat says it will not be shared with other users. They need your number to send a six-digit verification code via SMS or a phone call.

Add contacts

Next, you’ll see the “Find Friends” screen. Snapchat will ask for access to your phone contacts so they can see you already know and connect you. You have the choice to either add all your contacts at once or be more selective by adding people by their username.

Set personal preferences

Before using Snapchat, you’ll want to check out your settings. This is where you can update your personal information, choose who can send you snaps and view your Stories. If you prefer not to have your friends find you using your phone number, tap on “Mobile Number” to turn it off.

If you tap “Manage” under Additional Services, you’ll see there are several bonus features. In this section, you can enable filters, front-facing flash, power save mode and special text. To use features like filters and Story, the app requires access to your location.

You can also activate the replay feature, which lets you replay one snap that was sent to you in the last 24 hours. The catch? You can only use replay once every 24 hours, and it will only allow you to replay the snap you last viewed. All users have access to the replay feature.

Create snaps

Snapchat automatically activates your phone’s camera when you launch the app. To adjust the focus of the camera, tap anywhere on the screen. Tap the camera icon in the top right-hand corner to switch from rear camera to front camera, and tap the lightning symbol at the top-left corner to turn on the flash on.

To take a photo, tap the circle at the bottom of the screen. To record a video, tap and hold the circle at the bottom of the screen. Videos can be up to 10 seconds long.

After you take the photo, you can add a caption or start drawing. Before you send, you can choose how long you want your recipient to view your snap for — up to 10 seconds. To adjust the time limit, tap the stopwatch icon at the bottom-left corner.

Send your snap

Snapchat allows users to draw on their pictures before they are sent.

When you’re ready to send, tap the arrow in the bottom right-hand corner. Your contact list will appear, and you can select who to send it to. There is no limit as to how many people you can send a snap to.

Once your recipient has opened your snap, the triangle (for photos) or square (for videos) icon next to your friend’s name will not be filled in. A filled-in icon means your snap has been sent, but hasn’t been open yet.

So, what happens to your snap after it’s sent? Snapchat’s privacy policy states, “once all recipients have viewed a snap, we automatically delete the snap from our servers and our services are programmed to delete the snap from the Snapchat app on the recipients’ devices.”

View received snaps

Your contacts can send you snaps, too. To open these, go to the camera screen and you’ll see a number on the bottom-left corner of the screen. This number shows how many unopened snaps you have.

If there is a filled-in icon next to the user’s name, you haven’t opened that snap yet. An empty square or triangle means you already viewed the snap. Press and hold the snap you want to look at. Make sure you continue to hold your finger on the screen to view the snap. When you let go, the snap will disappear.

You’ll see the timer in the top-right corner, which shows how long you can view the snap. When the timer ends, the snap is gone permanently, unless you use the replay feature.

Something the company has added since its launch is a notification if the recipient has taken a screenshot of your snap.


Like a snap, Stories can be photos and videos. The difference is that you can post a story to your feed, which can be seen by friends. Stories exist for 24 hours and can be replayed as many times as the recipient wants.

Live Chat

Snapchat isn’t just for sending snaps and Stories. You can also have real-time conversations. To start a chat, visit your Snapchat inbox and swipe right on a friend’s name. To attach a photo or video, tap the yellow camera button.

Once you leave the chat screen, all messages between you and your friend will be cleared. If you want to save your message, you can either take screenshots of it or tap the conversation to save it. When you tap on the messages, the font will change and will be highlighted in gray, which means that you have saved the conversation.

Not only can you send snaps and messages, but you can also live video chat.

If you and your friend are both in chat at the same time, the camera button will turn blue. To start a live video chat, you and your friend must hold your fingers down on the camera button at the same time.

Snapchat Score

Your Snapchat Score is the total number of snaps you have sent and received. Your score shows two numbers in the format sent | received.

If you have additional questions about Snapchat, visit the app’s support page.

Next week, we’ll go over how business can use successfully use Snapchat, like this example from Taco Bell.


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