Snapchat is the newest social media kid on the block and bloggers are fast finding ways to use it. Here’s our beginner's guide to using Snapchat for food bloggers to connect with your readers and help build your blog’s community.
Somewhere, a 16-year-old is snickering because a 39-year-old is writing a tutorial on Snapchat.
For years, the social media app has been the domain of teens and twenty-somethings wanting to share spontaneous messages and photos that disappear after viewing. Anyone older often dismissed Snapchat as a trite tool for sexting.
But Snapchat is rivalling Instagram as the fastest growing social network because individuals and brands are catching on to the power of its simplicity. Snapchat has 200 million monthly active users and 100 million of them take to it each day to share 400 million photos, messages and videos. That’s a lot of potential reach.
So let's get started with our beginner's guide to snapchat for bloggers!
So what is Snapchat?
Snapchat is like a mashup of Twitter, Instagram and Vine. It’s instant visual communication that can be used to share timely photos and text, and short video clips with or without sound. These can be shared privately with another person or posted to a public channel called My Story, which anyone can view.
Many people sweat over making each of Twitter’s 140 characters count and aim for the greatest aesthetic value on Instagram. Snapchat is more off the cuff and in the moment likely because everything posted will disappear after 24 hours. So no worries if the lighting wasn’t the best when you snapped that burrito at supper, or if there’s a typo in a post. Its shelf life is fleeting.
That said, people can take screen shots of your posts, but unless you actively encourage it, this goes against general Snapchat etiquette.
Why do you want to be on Snapchat?
If the numbers above don’t dazzle you, the simple answer is that Snapchat is fun.
It can also be used as an extension of Twitter, Instagram and whatever video platform you use to promtoe your blog, or share new recipes, tips and tutorials, and behind-the-scenes access to people, places and events that would interest your followers. You can also use it to offer promotions and host contests without any quirky rules to hold you back.
As an example, I was recently in Hamilton working on a travel story. Rather than flood Twitter and Instagram with every great discovery (there were lots) and risk people tuning me out, I shared a ton of information and images on Snapchat. I encouraged my followers on Twitter who wanted to know more to check out my story there.
It didn’t matter if my photos weren’t perfect or my videos looked like an outtake from "The Blair Witch Project." Sharing was instant and informal, allowing followers to feel as though they were there with me. Watched all together, my photos and videos provided a short, visual narrative of my day and all the incredible things to see and eat in Steeltown.
From a business or branding perspective, it’s another way to show your personality. We’ve all heard about the need for “authenticity” in social media. Well, Snapchat in its spontaneity may be as authentic as they come. <
How to use Snapchat
First, download the app.
As soon as you open it, you’ll see your phone is converted to a camera.
A quick touch and release of the button snaps a photo (See 1). Holding the button down shoots video.
In the top right corner, you can add emojis, a bar of text and/or use the drawing tool to enhance your snap (See 2). To move your emojis, just hold and drag. Ditto for moving the text bar. To enlarge emojis, hold and expand like you would zoom in on a photo.
Hit the arrow in the top left corner when you’re done with those features to add any final touches or post your snap. Hitting the X deletes your photo (See 3).
In the bottom left corner, you’ll see a clock, which you can use to extend the viewing time of your photos. The default is three seconds, which may be too short if you have accompanying text (See 4). When shooting video, a megaphone will show up in this spot instead to mute footage, if you prefer.
The arrow with a line underneath allows you to download your snaps to your phone (See 5).
The box with the plus sign enables you to quickly add a snap to your public story (See 6).
The arrow in the bottom right corner takes you to your list of contacts with whom you can share a private snap (See 7). You can also post it to your public story from this screen.
When a purple box with a number appears in the bottom right corner, it means a contact has posted a public snap (See 8). Touch it to be taken to a list of active contacts, and choose snaps you want to see.
To see how many people have viewed your snaps, swipe right from the camera screen to the stories screen, and touch the three dots next to your story (See 9). You can also see a list of who’s viewed your snaps and if anyone has taken a screen grab. The information here will also give insight into the snaps your audience watched closely and what they skipped, so you can tailor your content to have the greatest appeal.
Unlike Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat doesn’t keep track of your followers. Apps such as Snaplytics can help you track those numbers, which is useful if you plan to include Snapchat in your repertoire of marketing tools when working with brands. Some simple math can help you get an estimate, too.
Now that you have the mechanics down, share your handle or a in your profiles on other social media platforms. You can even use your snapcode, which is the ghost surrounded by black dots on a yellow background, as your profile pic. Snapchat users can scan it in the app, similar to a QR code, and instantly follow you.
Use the discover tool in the app to find popular media outlets and brands using Snapchat, including Tastemade, which posts simple tutorials and recipes, Food Network, National Geographic, and CNN.
Some great examples of food bloggers and photographers using Snapchat are Dan Clapson (Snapchat: dansgoodside), Marie Marte Forsberg (Snapchat: marie_forsberg) and Beth Kirby (Snapchat: localmilk). Denise at Sweet Peas and Saffron (Snapchat: sweetpeasaffron) is an ace at engaging followers by asking for photo advice.
Happy snapping and chatting! (and don't forget to follow FBC on Snapchat too: foodbloggersca!
A Guide to Using Snapchat for Bloggers was written by Tiffany Mayer, a freelance journalist and author of Niagara Food: A Flavourful History of the Peninsula’s Bounty (History Press, 2014). She blogs about food and farming at eatingniagara.com.