How to use Snapchat – the guide for people over 22 who finds Snapchat scary!

Social media and where we hang out online is a fascinating topic. Yesterday I had a Snapchat lesson with Leo, 18 to get up to speed. I’ve had a Snapchat account for years. When I started to use it the app was full of bugs and hard to manage, and I became a passive user. Last week I decided that I shall conquer my fear and learn how to snap.

My Snapchat is sofies554 if you wanna follow me. I’ve changed my Snapchat to my ‘normal’ username, SofieSandell. It really confused me when I had that random name which I picked like 3 years ago when I found Snapchat scary. 

Leo and Sofie May 2016

Me and Leo, my Snapchat guru and teacher.

Snapchat for many people is the crazy side of social media. Many who use it are authentic and true when showing snaps of their life. On Instagram and Facebook you see their curated and well thought-through posts, and on Snapchat they share the posts that shouldn’t be saved forever. It’s a great storytelling app.

Apps that makes us creative in seconds are going to be the winners in the future, and this is what Snapchat does, and it is quick. All my other social media networks suddenly feel very slow.

If you are hesitating to use Snapchat or not and find it a bit complicated here is a quick guide. Thank you, Leo, who patiently answered all my questions yesterday 🙂

The quick guide to Snapchat

Open the app and double click the screen, then you can take a selfie. If you press the screen on your face the funny face options will pop up. The different ‘faces’ change every now and then. Right now I have a dog as my fist option, then you can make yourself look crazy with no nose, a new hat, and even a new face. If you scroll through all options you come to the face swap and face mask options. You must check them out!

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Press the button and you take a photo, and hold it for longer and you make a video.

You have a few different options how to use Snapchat:

send text messages
  2. send symbols
  3. send a photo looking great
send a photo looking crazy
  5. send a face-mask selfie
  6. send a photo with text on, and add emojis
  7. send a ten-second video
  8. send a ten-second video with text and emojis
  9. create a story and share it with everyone in your network for 24 hours
  10. and other ways that I’ve not discovered yet.

There is a paint function in the app, perfect if you would like to highlight something in a photo or video. Create a circle or arrow.

When you take a photo, you choose how long time it will be visible, one to ten seconds. There have been some warnings about people saving photos sent over Snapchat, and that made the function of sharing things secretly useless. Now, if you save a snap that someone sent to you, the sender will get a notification on their screen saying that you saved the photo as a screenshot. An example of this is the daughter who saved her dad’s snaps and he lost his job. Not the best use of social media. We are getting used how to use social media in a better way, and hopefully, we will stop shaming people.

One thing that sometimes confuses me is that some of the text messages are saved in the app and then some disappear. And if someone sends you a photo you can replay the Snap twice. Good to know, in the past you could only see it once.

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To give you more options you can save the photos and videos that you created on your phone. A smart thing to do is to share them in your social media, add your username, and then people may find you on Snapchat and follow you.

Blog images snapchat and Mi.001

My Story

The best thing with Snapchat is My Story. And you create that by taking a photo or film a ten-second video, then you press the small box with a + ‘plus sign’ on the bottom of the screen and then your followers can see the photo for 24 hours.

Last week when I was opening my Snapchat there was a Live story featuring Gothenburg, my hometown. I clicked on it and saw a lot of different clips in a video that was going on forever. If a brand or event choose to be on ‘Live’ then everyone who is around can choose to add their Story to the Live event. Snapchat has created a fab function where you can crowdsource a video. I had no idea that this was the way they did it and thought it looked too funky and creative for being a promotional video.

How to add friends

Press the little yellow Snapchat symbol on the top of the screen and add friends. I downloaded the video and made it my Facebook profile video. To do that only click on the yellow frame and click the save symbol in the top right corner. You can search for people nearby, so if you are at a party and talk to someone you can just search and then add them.

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Snapchat also gives you trophies when you achieved a certain level of messages, and some see it as high status to have sent many snaps.

  1. Tap the little ghost on the Camera screen.
  2. Tap the trophy at the top of the Profile screen.
  3. Tap a trophy to see how you earned it! Some trophies have multiple levels of achievement.

Snapchat may very well become more mainstream now when it’s better. Maybe it actually is mainstream, both The White House and the local newspaper, GP, in Gothenburg, Sweden, where I grew up, use Snapchat now.

For big publishers, there is an option to create a channel in the Discover feature. I don’t think that many users click there. Why would they? You use social media to connect with friends. This function will probably change and be more creative soon, or they may only let people add their videos in the Live / My story tab.

If I was the digital director for a brand I would set up a normal Snapchat account and quickly learn how to get into the ‘Live’ story tab by contacting Snapchat. It’s all about trying, testing, learning and being creative.

An example how BBC News used Snapchat to report the result of the EU referendum.

Happy snap chatting,


Snapchat was founded April 2011, and they launched stories in 2013, and have since then added the partnership function Discovery. In March 2016, they had over 100 million people using Snapchat every day and billion of video views. Headquarters is in Los Angeles, USA. Snapchat has a support account on Twitter