They were sitting in a theater quietly when all of a sudden a train came at them out of nowhere. The crowd screamed, flailed, and ran out of the room in terror. One of the first publicly shown films had quickly become one of the first horror films, when the audience thought that the train on screen was actually zooming towards them. The famous Lumieres Brothers’ film is a great example of how new mediums can take some getting used to. Just like the first big screen films, Snapchat has required some adjustments and learning curves from both the audience and content creators alike.
As a medium, film has definitely seen some hiccups as it became a standard form of media—something Snapchat is currently experiencing. This is the time where mistakes are being made aplenty. While many mistakes are understandable and part of the learning experience, there are definitely some common no-nos that you can avoid at this stage in the game. Continue reading for examples of Snapchat mistakes you might be making, so that you can avoid creating any unintentional horror films.
What not to do on Snapchat
Screenshotting a private message
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is why we can’t have nice things. When Snapchat first arrived on the scene, screenshotting was considered the cardinal sin. More recently, however, it seems screenshotting has become widely accepted. My cousin sends me photos of her baby and I screenshot them so that I can show my Snapchat-free mom. My friend sends me Snaps of her and her fiance’s Face Swap and I, for reasons unbeknownst to me, screenshot them. What kind of creepy photo album ode to my friend’s relationship am I planning on creating?
I understand the knee-jerk reaction to screenshotting certain Snaps, but it might be time for you and I to come to terms with this problem. Before you screenshot a Snap, think to yourself:
- Would I be upset if I sent this Snap and somebody else saved it?
- Was this Snap meant for my eyes only? This doesn’t necessarily mean the provocative pics Snapchat was initially infamous for (please don’t make me explain any more), but Snaps containing sensitive data of any sort.
- What would be the repercussions of this Snap being seen by anyone other than myself?
Many take comfort in the fleeting nature of Snapchat, and screenshotting private content without the sender’s consent means that you are disrespecting them and the inherent nature of the network.
Sending useless Snaps
Snapchat’s informal nature can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you don’t necessarily need to worry as much about creating perfectly produced content all of the time. Your followers aren’t expecting Hollywood levels of production value or Instagram aesthetic curations of images. On the other hand, it’s easy to get lazy with your Snaps and get carried away with thoughtless postings.
Snapchat is the perfect social network for fun, but this doesn’t have to mean pointless. This is important to remember for anyone, but especially if you’re running a brand’s Snapchat account. While of course not saying that every Snap you send or add to your Story be a recital of the latest developments in quantum physics theory, balance the playful with the practical. If your Snap Story is always just a collection of long-winded selfie videos or irrelevant images, you’re not bringing any value to your followers’ experience. Some ways to strike balance between the fun and worthwhile, include:
- Create a branded Snapchat geofilter for your business
- Have your employees share quick personal tidbits about their jobs
- Host a Snapchat takeover
- Complement your useful (but perhaps drier) content with emojis, stickers, and illustrations
- Use Snapchat features (such as the sped up or slowed down video effects) to add interest to otherwise boring content
- Follow an established plan for your content (such as aiming to do 30 percent fun content with 70 percent professional and valuable content)
- Pay attention to brands who are doing Snapchat right (Saje Wellness, Buzzfeed, Everlane, etc.) and how they are balancing the nature of their content.
It can be hard to find this harmony, but as long as your content isn’t existing simply for the sake of existing you should find the mix that works for your brand.
Posting all of your Snaps at once
Most of us don’t think twice when posting to our Snap Story, but it could pay to think twice before publishing whole day’s worth of content at once. Snapchat organizes Stories by how recent they are. The newest content goes at the top and anything older follows. If you’re posting all of your content at once, you risk being pushed down the line of your followers’ Snap Story page without them having the chance to see your content.
Think strategically about how you want to post your content. If you post to your Snap Story once every two hours you have a greater chance of being somewhere near the top of your audience’s feeds.
If you have content that you need to shoot and have ready, a little trick would be to turn your phone to Airplane mode so that your Snaps won’t send. Your Snaps will all fail to send due to a lack of internet, but then when you turn Airplane mode off, your Snaps will all be there and ready to send. You can then “Tap to Retry” sending your Snaps at your convenience or according to your strategy.
Sending the same Snap to individual users and your Story
If you grew up watching Barney, you know how important it is to feel special. Have you ever received a Snap from somebody and felt so very special, only to see that they had also posted it on their public Snap Story? Tragedy for the ol’ ego, let me tell you.
You never want your followers to feel as if you don’t care about them, and an easy way to avoid this is to make sure you only send personalized Snaps when you really mean it. A private Snap is a kind of ‘I love you’ to your audience, and you wouldn’t say these words without really meaning them. Take the time to send personalized Snaps if you can (such as a birthday message or personalized filter for a brand advocate, etc.) or at the very least refrain from posting the same content to your Story. You can do it.
Posting Stories of only yourself
While there’s nothing wrong with a good selfie, if your Snapchat presence consists of only photos and videos of your face you may want to rethink your approach. There are of course exceptions to this (Kylie Jenner, we’re looking at you), but for the most part these kinds of monotonous front-facing Snaps and Snap Stories are quickly closed.
Instead of posting a 100-second Snap Story of yourself talking to the camera, mix up your Snap presence with other content. Users come to Snapchat for quick, easy-to-digest content, and your lengthy self-indulgent videos don’t satisfy this purpose. You need to engage your viewers with entertaining and attention-grabbing content, so find the mix of content that works for you.
Trying to fit a message into one line of text
Have you ever seen or received a Snap that had a line of standard text with one or two words that didn’t fit, written out in a red scribble? I know I’ve been guilty of this one in the past, but today there is no need for it.
Trying to fit your text into one line can make your message unclear, so there are a few options available to keep your Snaps legible.
Snapchat recently updated so that you can fit almost two lines of text in, which has been helpful when wanting to include that one last emoji. If you need space for more text, the following Snapchat hack works great:
- Open a Note on your phone.
- Press enter a few times until you reach your desired number of lines necessary.
- Hit ‘Select All’ and copy these lines of blank space.
- Paste this into the text box of your next Snap. You will now have a space as many lines long as you wish, to enter the text and emojis of your choice.
Take landscape images
Whether you’re a brand or a personal Snapchat user, this is a don’t. People view Snapchat images on a vertical screen, so ensure your content fits this practice. There is nothing more jarring than watching a Snap Story of someone’s pet and trying to figure out why it’s lying in such a terrifying position—only to realize the photo was taken horizontally. Make your Snaps as watchable as possible, and make life easy on your viewers by keeping things vertical.
Snapchat is designed for vertical consumption, so your content should be too—unless you want to force your audience to live like my dad, pictured below in a (vertical) Snap I received from my brother.
While I hate to act like the Snapchat police, the above tips are ones that can greatly enhance not only your own experience, but those of your community.
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