I first signed up on SnapChat about 2 years ago to see what this new social network was about.

After sending pics randomly of stuff that was either in front of me or my cat, to the few contacts I had, I stopped using it. Honestly didn’t see the point of sharing pics for the sake of it.

Well, yes, teens/youngsters use the social network for sharing other stuff, but I couldn’t see why I should use SnapChat and have my pics self-destruct when I could just use Whatsapp and they would last forever.

I deleted the app sometime last year when I did a major clean up of apps I never used. It was only this January, when SnapChat revamped their offering, that I downloaded it again. I wanted to check out the new “Discover” feature that a lot of media companies were making use of. I followed a few international media houses at various tech and auto shows. I also browsed and took a look at how other brands were using it to share content.

It let me see and follow, in my own time, what was happening. I loved the content where journalists where on the floor at shows and giving a first hand account of what was happening. It felt like I was there. It also wasn’t YouTube, and there wasn’t ads. Bonus. Upon launch, some of these media outlets were getting over a million views per day on their content. So no, this isn’t some small network that you should ignore (never mind that SnapChat turned down Facebook’s $3bn offer). It has over 100 million monthly active users, of which 65 million send photos and videos every day.

SnapChat Stories
Now that I’m back on SnapChat and ‘lurked’ enough the second time around, I started following friends who are using the Stories feature. It isn’t new but it wasn’t around when I first downloaded SnapChat so I’ve only recently started using it. The Stories feature lets you share content with people who follow you, or are your friends. You can control who sees your Stories; mine is set to “Everyone” (other options are “my friends” and “custom”, where you handpick people). People who can send you individual snaps is another setting, which you can control, and another way you can use the app (this way does not interest me).

Stories allows you can share pics or videos, created within the app; with comments in the form of text or drawings. For pics, you can choose between 1-10 seconds for it to display to your followers; and videos have a 10 second limit. Your followers can view your Stories content whenever it suits them, within 24 hours. It’s a great way to share micro stories or “behind the scenes” stuff you wouldn’t normally tweet, fb or instagram about. Which is what I’m doing – and dare I say – enjoying?

I thought I wanted it to be tech focused, but that’s what my Twitter is about. So while I’m not going to exclude tech stuff, I will be sharing more “behind the scenes” stuff. The more I’m using it, the more I’m liking it. All the content you share to Stories will disappear after 24 hours (awesome) and if anyone takes a screenshot, you are able to see this. But don’t ask me how one takes a screenshot, you basically need three hands! To view anything on SnapChat, you are constantly “pressing and holding” your screen.


Using SnapChat
Most people are very confused about how SnapChat works. I don’t blame them, I was terribly confused when I downloaded it a second time and realised I may be too old for it, ha! To give you a quick run down, the extreme left screen is if you are sending individual messages, you will see it there. Just note that when you send something, it’s not saved or visible by the time you respond again. So you may forget what you said (happened to me quite often).

The screen next to it, the main one, you will see your camera view. On the top, with icons for flash and night mode (top left); SnapChat logo (i’ll get to this shortly); and camera icon to toggle between main and front facing. On the bottom you will see a square, which takes you back to the extreme left screen to see your individual chats (or you can just swipe to get there); the main big circle that takes a pic with a single tap or video if you press and hold; and on the right 3 lines which takes you to Stories. Back to the SnapChat logo, here you will see “added me”, “add friends” and “my friends”. The ghost logo is your unique code (mine is visible above) that lets people add you easily. On the top right you will see Settings. Go through everything to make sure you know who is viewing your content, etc. Scroll from the bottom up to exit this mode (can be confusing).

Swipe right to go to the third screen, which is where you will find Stories. You will see “My Story” on the top, which is what you’ve shared. Beneath it is recent updates, brands that are live, and an alphabetical list of your contacts who have actively shared something within the 24 hour period. You can also see who viewed your stories; as well as if anyone took a screenshot. You can also save your story to your camera roll.

Swipe right again to get to the last screen, which is the Discover tab. You can see media outlets like Cosmopolitan, MTV, VICE, People, Daily Mail, CNN, National Geographic, etc here. Tap to view their content. To exit from this screen, just swipe from the left of your screen inwards.

Just remember each swipe takes you to a different screen. When you get on the main camera mode, the SnapChat logo takes you to Contacts. A swipe from the bottom upwards takes you out of this mode. Easy once you get the hang of it. If you’re already on several social networks sharing content, SnapChat is worth checking out.

Find me on SnapChat
If you’d like to follow my “micro stories” or “behind the scenes” footage, search for me by my username: nafisa_akabor or hold your phone in the main camera mode in front of my ghost pic, visible above. I am planning to share a bunch of stuff from an (exciting) upcoming trip to the US next week. Stay tuned!