In one of the more surprising turns of events in recent memory, I am LOVING Snapchat. Like a lot of people, I used to see it as that confusing app that nobody over age 17 uses. Now I’ve come to see it as an indispensable tool for getting a glimpse into the lives of friends and celebrities I admire.
What’s so great about it? Here’s my quick summary:
Snapchat is an app that lets you create a mini documentary about your life each day. Watching the updates of people you follow is like watching a reality show about people you know and like.
Interestingly, I find that I watch TV shows a little less often these days, because I get so much entertainment from following people’s lives on Snapchat. The combination of short video moments with pictures makes for dynamic, timely updates that you can’t quite get in any other social media.
In fact, I would suggest that Snapchat is not as much a competitor to Facebook and Instagram as it is to television.
A bunch of people have asked me to explain this app to them, so here’s a guide that covers a few of the features I think you’ll most enjoy:
Jen’s Top 4 Things
to Understand About Snapchat
1. SNAPCHAT STORIES
Watching Snapchat stories is similar to following people’s updates on Facebook or Twitter but with some unique twists:
- New updates are rolled up by person: I will see all of Bob’s updates at once, then all of Jane’s updates, then all of Kelly’s updates, etc. rather than having them mixed together by time of update like on other social media.
- You only see the updates from the past 24 hours, which relieves pressure to keep up with everything everyone has posted since you last logged in. If it happened more than 24 hours ago, you missed it. Whew!
- The updates auto-play. I often play my Snapchat updates while I’m doing the dishes in the evenings. It’s fun to watch them roll by, one after another, like I’m watching a TV show.
- People can update with video or photos, which brings you more fully into their lives.
- The videos are limited to 10 seconds, which keeps things moving quickly.
Again, I find following people’s Snapchat stories to have a similar entertainment factor to watching my favorite TV shows. And I love being able to bring people into my life with more immediacy and detail than other social media allow.
2. HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN UPDATES
– Open Snapchat. Hold down the big circle for video, or click it once to take a picture:
– If you want to play with facial filters (optional), before you begin recording, press and hold where your face appears on the screen:
– To add the image or video to your public feed that anyone who follows you can see (i.e. to your “story”), click on the square at the bottom of the screen:
Unlike in other social media, doing multiple updates at once is a good thing. They will all be grouped together to form one cohesive story for your followers. Again, it’s like making a little movie about your day.
Also, you can download your photos and videos to share elsewhere. I often email my Snapchat stories to relatives, and they love seeing the latest mini-documentary about our family!
3. HOW TO FOLLOW PEOPLE
Snapchat has no easy way to search for people by name, so you’ll need to find people’s usernames (I list some of my favorites below). Follow people by adding them as a Friend here:
Unlike Facebook, the word “Friend” is used loosely here. It’s customary to add people as Friends whom you don’t know personally, especially if they have any kind of public presence.
Then you can view their public stories by clicking on the bottom right:
Click on the top story under “Recent Updates,” and the app will auto-play all the new updates from everyone you follow. (Washing dishes will never be the same once you discover this. Trust me.)
4. FIND A FEW FOLKS TO FOLLOW
If you would like to follow me, you’ll see lots of stories from the craziness of my house, and my endless struggle to stay sane as I write books and do a daily radio show while homeschooling six kids.
Below is a list of a few other people I enjoy following. Add a few of these folks as friends and you’ll have lots of interesting stories to follow right now!
If you’ve ever wondered what real life is like for the fabulous Gaffigan family, you’ll find out when you follow Jeannie on Snapchat. Their children are adorable, and it’s a blast to see all the places they go on Jim’s tour. (Jim Gaffigan is on there as well, at JimGaffigan4.)
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I am so happy whenever I see Sister Chelsea Bethany’s updates pop up. Her sense of joy pours through the screen as she brings us in to her life as a young nun.
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My friends and I have been texting all week about what Gwen’s been posting on Snapchat. The consensus is that it’s so interesting to see a behind-the-scenes glimpse of her tour, and we find it really inspiring that she’s dedicated to staying close to her kids despite the fact that she’s an international superstar. (And, okay, we spend a lot of time speculating about what she does to look so gorgeous.)
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Catholic News Agency has one of the best Snapchat accounts out there. With innovative videos about world events and intimate glimpses into pilgrimages and tours, they’re a must-follow.
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My friend Hallie is so fun to follow — she is currently juggling a speaking career and the launch of a bestselling book, which is super easy since she only has seven young children.
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Th3 Saga is a powerhouse battle rapper who also happens to be a devout Christian (he taught me to battle rap on my radio show!) His updates bring us in to his career as a rising star in the music world.
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Join my friend Rachael Escandon as she tries out her latest Sephora purchases, works out at her lifting gym, contemplates a new tattoo, or tries to control the chaos as she homeschools her five young children.
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Bo Bonner’s daily thoughts on the Scriptures are one of my very favorite things on Snapchat. His insights are both brilliant and funny, and always give me something to think about. (He also does updates specific to Mercy College, where he works as a campus minister, but stick with him to hear his reflections!)
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There are a lot of things I love about Christine Johnson’s updates, but my favorite is her chronicles of getting fit as part of the Couch to 5K program. Every time she goes out and runs even though she doesn’t feel like it, it motivates me to do the same.
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I met Christian hiphop artist J-Nice the Kingdom Builder in person at a recent music festival, and I can tell you that he is just as kind, warm, and funny in person as he seems on Snapchat.
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If you’ve ever wondered how Blessed Is She founder Jenna Guizar manages her life as a mom and entrepreneur, you’ll find out when you follow her. Her updates are fun, down to earth, and always encouraging.
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I have always wondered what it would be like to sneak along in author and speaker Lisa Hendey’s suitcase as she travels the world. Now, thanks to Snapchat, I know — and it’s as entertaining as I thought it would be.
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Carolyn is an artist and blogger whose updates never fail to inspire me, whether she’s honestly recounting some challenge from a tough day with young children or sharing her latest amazing work of art.
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Leticia is the pop culture correspondent on my radio show, which basically means that her job is to pull deep insights out of the latest Kardashians episode. You’ll get those kinds of thoughts on Snapchat, as well as the occasional rant and a look into her life as a grandmother of two who’s under 40.
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Speaker and youth minister Joel Stepanek brings us into his life and travels. He documented a tour of Auschwitz recently that was deeply moving.
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I always feel a little less alone after seeing Cate’s stories. She shares honestly about the ups and downs of each day in her life as a mom of two who recently re-entered the workforce whose engineer husband is in multiple bands. There’s always a great new tale in her updates.
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Heather Renshaw is hosting a big women’s conference in a few weeks, so her life is crazy busy right now — and yet she still manages to joke around and share inspiration with the rest of us. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.
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If Haley Stewart updated 100 times a day, it wouldn’t be enough for me. I love living vicariously through her in her life on a farm co-op (with no flushing toilets!), where she raises her children while working on her booming writing career.
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These were just a few folks who happened to be in my updates recently — certainly not a complete list of everyone who’s great to follow — so I may do another list in the future. If there’s anyone you love to follow, let me know in the comments!
Meanwhile, see you over on Snapchat!