My Rules of Snapchat

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It took me awhile to get on board with Snapchat, but after an initial warm-up period it's quickly become my latest social addiction. It provides a simpler way to showcase what's going on in your life, without the need to have everything look perfect. Instagram originally started out that way for me, where I would take random pictures as a fun glimpse into my life, not worrying about every detail being perfect. But we all know how high the bar has gotten these days. Unless breakfast includes a fancy pastry with a candle burning, fresh flowers, and magazines framing it, it's not Instagram-worthy. (Last week I posted a picture of a croissant on my desk, and instead of having it on a gold-rimmed plate, I had it how I was eating it--on a paper towel--and someone commended me for being "brave"). I still love Instagram, but the immediacy and ephemeral nature of Snapchat makes it so appealing. What works for me may not be your thing, but these are the general rules guiding my snapping activity.

  1. Don't worry about it being too perfect or pretty. I kind of view Snapchat as the behind-the scenes look at what you might post on Instagram. It’s not so forward-facing, so embrace the of-the-moment nature. Snapchat isn’t about rearranging something for 20 minutes in advance of the snap, it’s about sharing and having fun within real time.

  2. Switch it up: In terms of telling a story, the best way for me to create is to switch between video and stills, and not show too many of the same thing. Alternating from live video to stills brings something to life in a more compelling way than seven still shots in a row.

  3. Angle variety: In that same vein, I like to switch up angles so it’s not the same view every snap. For example, the first still might be a bird’s-eye shot, followed by a panning 360-degree video, a straight-on still, and then a selfie (of the lipstick I’m wearing that day, etc.)

  4. Word play: Adding text is a great way to enhance the story, but there are a few ways to approach your prose. If you have one or two words to include in a snap, use the handwriting/drawing feature. It's more creatively flexible and allows you to insert more of your personality. More than two words should be typed out, since all the handwriting could get messy. 

  5. Strategic filters: While Instagram is all about filters, the options on Snapchat offer a little more creative expression. You shouldn't use them on every photo/video, but applying them to the right moment adds a more dynamic detail other apps don't provide. Whether it's the custom city logos, current temperature or MPH (speed), each filter gives you both a literal or ironic way to bring more to the story.

  6. Sound effects: In my view, it’s best not to snap when you’re in a loud, crowded place like a concert or club. Though it’s probably very fun in the moment, it never quite translates and can be really jarring for the viewer when they’re tapping through and all of a sudden blaring techno music starts playing. If you’re at a concert, maybe snap one special moment of a song and leave it at that. I try to keep loud sounds to a minimum.

  7. Mundane matters. Snapchat isn’t always about capturing the amazing dream vacation, sweeping landscape, or crazy dramatic moment. In fact, while it’s nice to share instances as they occur, it’s really more about the little things happening on a daily basis. That said, know the difference between the mundane (like the traffic jam you’re sitting in), and what might feel basic to you, but is potentially interesting for other people. For instance, if you have a special process for making coffee in the morning, documenting that process makes a cute snap that other people might want to try. Things like your three go-to beauty products, favorite salad ingredients, or the new Netflix series you’re addicted to, when shared with anecdotes via talking to the camera, emojis, and drawings, make fun content to consume. And of course there’s always the simple, sweet things that are fun to watch. (babies, pets, etc.) 

  8. P.S. My Snapchat username is e.schuman if you want to follow me!