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Making Sense of Snapchat

posted Aug 4, 2016, 10:17 AM by Anjuan Simmons   [ updated Nov 5, 2016, 5:52 AM ]
I have tried several times to understand the Snapchat app. Unlike Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social sharing apps, I was unable to immediately understand the value of Snapchat. So, I would install the app, look at a few stories, and then usually uninstall the app after a few minutes. Until a couple of weeks ago, it had been months since I last installed the app. However, I saw an increasing number of people I follow on Twitter began publicizing their new Snapchat accounts. So, I decided to take another look at the app, installed it, and discovered something.

It's easier to see a person's true self on Snapchat. I have met people in person after following them on Twitter for several years, and I've found that personalities in real life often differ from how people come across in 140 characters. You can't even get a true indication of who a person is from Instagram photos. However, for some reason, personality seems to ring true on Snapchat. I can attest to this based on meeting people after only knowing them through their Snapchat stories as well as seeing the stories of people I've already met in person. 

The reason that people may be more authentic in their Snapchat stories may be due to the closed nature of the platform. There is no way to publicly link to someone's Snapchat profile. There is no way to see who the people you follow on Snapchat follow themselves. The closest you get to this is when someone posts a Snapchat username to their story. Also, snaps disappear after 24 hours so there is a sense of impermanence which leads to a sense of freedom to be yourself. How bad can things get in a world where everything disappears in a day?

So, after seeing so many compelling stories, I finally installed Snapchat and used it long enough to develop a way for it to make sense to me. Here's how I use Snapchat.

Ditch the Recent Updates Feed

Don’t use the Recent Updates feed. While it displays snaps in chronological order, the way it auto-advances to the next story is maddening. Instead, scroll down to the All Stories feed which displays your friends in alphabetical order. Stories also don’t auto-advance in the All Stories feed.

Categorize the People You Follow

Rename your Snapchat accounts to put them into categories. Do this by long pressing on each account, clicking the gear icon, and selecting Edit Name. Enter the category name and then the actual name of the account. Here are some examples:
  • Celeb - Keri Hilson
  • Celeb - Kim Kardashian
  • Celeb - Kylie Jenner
  • Politics - Michelle Obama
  • Politics - White House
  • Sports - Serena Williams
  • Tech - Mashable
  • Tech - The Verge
Enjoy a Better Snapchat Experience

Since you’re in the All Stories feed, all of your Snapchat accounts appear grouped together by category, and you can click on them individually without the auto-advance feature. This is a much better experience than the Recent Updates feed because you can click around to the categories and people you want to watch.