Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snapchat 101: Learn to Love the World’s Most Confusing Social Network

[ed. This was very helpful. Now I know I will never use Snapchat.]

Snapchat makes me feel old.

How old? Well, when a 20-something tried to explain to me how to add a friend in the app, he began talking loudly and slowly. “YOU…PRESS…HERE…OK?”

I’m 31 and a professional technology reviewer. Not exactly Betty White.

Attention everyone born before 1986: It’s not you, it’s Snapchat. The app, now used daily by 100 million people, requires the same initial concentration as assembling IKEA furniture. There are mysterious icons that look like ancient hieroglyphs, a maze of menus not even Pac-Man could maneuver, secret finger presses. And I haven’t even gotten to the fact that many of the messages on the service self-destruct after you look at them.

But we can’t keep shooing Snapchat off our lawns. It’s about to have its Facebook moment. Most of the leading 2016 candidates are posting Snapchat videos and photos from the campaign trail, and the White House just got on board. Celebrities and news outlets are sharing up-to-the-minute updates. The Wall Street Journal launched its own Snapchat Discover channel last week.

So why Snapchat, when there are already three massive social networks to choose from? Because awesome. Well, that’s how millennials would answer. Facebook is for major life updates. (Your friend from third grade just had her 10th baby!) Twitter is for keeping up with news and live events. ( Taylor Swift released a new video…again.) Instagram is for jealousy-inducing photos. (Bora Bora is beautiful; your cubicle is not.)

Snapchat is for bearing witness—telling stories in raw, often humorous, behind-the-scenes clips or messages. If an 80-year-old can climb Everest, we can conquer—and even learn to love—Snapchat. Here’s how I did.

How to Understand Snapchat

Part of what makes understanding Snapchat so difficult are the many different ways of communicating inside the vertical screen. But remember these three elements:
  • Snaps—Snaps are self-destructing photos or quick videos (up to 10 seconds) you send to one or multiple friends. Users send these expiring messages because they allow for more intimate and personal conversations. You’ll find sent and received snaps hiding to the left of the home screen. 
  • Story—Increasingly, people are broadcasting their snaps for everyone to see in what’s called a story—a series of moments that won’t self-destruct for 24 hours. You’ll find your friends’ stories to the right of the home screen. 
  • Chat—Snapchat also has one-to-one text chatting. You chat back and forth in the typical way, but when you navigate away from the chat screen, you lose the thread forever. Chats, like snaps, appear to the left of the home screen.
by Joanna Stern, WSJ |  Read more:
Image: Carlo Giambarresi