How to use Snapchat

How to use Snapchat

You’ve come to the perfect article if you want to learn how to use Snapchat. I appreciate how difficult it can be to navigate the app when you first start to use it because I’ve been in your shoes and also found it a little awkward to get to grips with and this is why I’ve written this guide.

I’ll take you through each of the screens and demonstrate how to navigate the app. Following the recent update to the app in June 2016, which makes some usability improvements, I’ve included updated screenshots of the new version.

Before I get started I think it’s worth confirming that you’re making a good choice by choosing Snapchat. Just recently, it was confirmed as having more people using the platform on a daily basis than Twitter with 150,000,000 people a day using Snapchat – incredible.

This is no small irrelevant fact. No, this would put Snapchat in to the top 3 or 4 of social media channels with Facebook, YouTube & Instagram – it means it’s now a big player.

Gone are the opinions that it’s only a platform for the young. No, Snapchat is now a serious business, marketing & network tool which is allowing people to interact in a whole new way on social media.

It’s key, before you step in, that you understand this. Snapchat’s primary benefit is it’s ability to allow you to tell an interactive story in a way which really engages the people who follow you. It has huge potential for marketing & networking as long as you ensure that you use it to provide content & value. That is – if you’re thinking of using it for business do not expect to get anywhere if you only post occasional pictures. No, you need to tell a story using pictures & video – with video being key.

However, if this makes you feel a little edgy you need not worry. You’ll be able to grow & develop your use of Snapchat and it won’t take time before you feel like a seasoned pro. I’ve have another blog explaining some of the benefits of Snapchat and a blog explaining how it might benefit your business.

Anyway, let’s get down to explaining the app to you.

The Front View


When you launch the application, this is what you’ll see (with the black screen showing the image your camera see’s).

This allows you to access the 3 other main areas of Snapchat.

  • At the top, the little bell icon allows you to access the control area – here you can add friends and see who’s added you as a friend. You can also access your settings.
  • To the bottom left, this chat icon will take you to see private messages. These are messages that people have sent directly to you.
  • To the bottom right, the purple icon will take you to see Stories and the Discover options.

Key tips:

  • Swipe from right to left to go to Stories
  • Swipe from left to right to go to Private Messages
  • Press the ‘action’ circle once to take a picture or hold it down to take a video
  • Video: Hold the button whilst taking a video and keep an eye on the red circle to know when your time is up (you get 10 seconds per snap)

Private Message View

Snapchat Private Message

So now you’re in a view which shows you any private snaps you’ve been sent. They’re not private in any sense other than someone has sent it directly to you. So, if someone wanted to ask you a question it would be here. Or, if a friend wanted to send you a picture or simply say hello, it would show here.

You can do a few things here:

  • Double tap on someone’s name to send them a video message reply
  • Swipe from left to right on the icon next to their name to send a text or audio reply
  • Select the chat icon in the top left to find someone else to send a message to
  • You can select the camera or simply swipe right to left to go back to the front screen


Snapchat Stories

In the Stories view you can see your friends Stories plus you can access the Discover section. You’re wondering what Stories are right? Let me explain briefly.

A Story is a collection of your own snaps (pictures & videos) which your friends can watch. They are shown in a chronological order and allow people to view a story you’re telling.

For example, say I wanted to tell the story of my day. I could take snaps (videos or pictures) of my morning routing, of mid-morning meetings, of lunch, of my afternoon at the gym and then of my evening (I’d want it to be more interesting than that, but bare with me!) and I’d send these to My Story during the day. I would then have a collection of snaps, or a story, which was available for my friends to view.

So, if my friend (Bob) views my story at the end of the day he’d see all of those snaps for a complete story of my day. If my other friend (Sue) saw my story at lunch she’d only see my morning snaps but she could then check my story again later and pick up where she left off to see the rest.

People use these in a variety of ways, some span a story out over a day (they only last 24 hrs before being deleted) whilst some will put together a short series or snaps to deliver a message – it’s flexible.

Anyway, in this view you can:

  • Click someone’s user name to view their story (note: you can swipe down to leave the story and go back to Stories or from right to left to go to leave and go to the next person’s story in the list)
  • Click the globe to view “Discover”
  • Click the little dots next to your story to see who and how many people have viewed your snaps
  • Click the camera to return to the front page (or swipe left to right)

If you press the 3 little dots next to your story it’ll take you to the next view…

Snapchat Stories

Snapchat Stories

Here you can see each individual snap within your story and also see how many people view each snap. If you click the number/eye icon you can see which of your friends saw the snap. You can also download your story to video (so you could use it on another social media channel!).

If you want to delete a snap you can select one of the individual entries and hit the rubbish bin icon.

Now, head to the Discover section.

Snapchat Discover

Snapchat Discover

These are paid/sponsored channels within Snapchat. They aren’t very popular and Snapchat have just changed them (June 2016) to try and make them more engaging. They’ve done this by integrating them within the Stories view (as shown above) but they’ve also added headlines and background images to entice us in to view them.

This is the only part of Snapchat where the content is generated by a paying business, everything else is more authentic.

Now, head to the front view (by swiping or selecting the camera circle hovering at the bottom of your Snapchat view – and, if you can manage this you’re probably feeling fairly comfortable about navigating Snapchat :-)).

Snapchat Video

Snapchat Video

Ok, so you want to create a video? No problem.

Oh, you don’t? Hold on. Snapchat’s not judgemental here – people like videos, raw, genuine videos of you being you. Have no fear, just jump in and learn from others – in time you won’t think twice of videoing, TRUST ME 🙂

So, let’s create a video snap…

From the front view, press the circle once to take a picture or hold it down to record a video. When recording, the red indicator circle will move round until it reaches the top and signals the end of the video – this gives you 10 seconds to record. Irrespective of whether or not you’re still holding the button the video will end and begin to play back.

Once your video or picture has been taken, you’ll get this screen.

Snapchat Video

On Snapchat you want to create engaging content and this is where you can add detail to your picture or video. Use the icons along the top to add emoticons (smileys), text or draw over your media.

In the bottom right you can hit the arrow to send your picture or video to either a friend or your story. If it’s your first video, maybe send it to a trust friend to try it out?

The download function is neat (the down arrow), this saves your snap to your camera roll and allows you to use it elsewhere (like Facebook).

Don’t worry – if you practice adding a snap to your story you can simply go to that snap within your story and delete it (press the bin / trashcan icon).

Finally, navigate back to the front view and select the bell icon in the top middle.



You’re now in the area which let’s you access your settings as well as adding friends and seeing who added you. These options are clear shown below.

Snapcodes? Ok, so the yellow image with my picture in it and a bunch of dots around it? That’s my Snapcode. Everyone has a unique Snapcode and people are starting to display them as profile pictures on other social channels and even on business cards so you might be familiar with them already.

If you were to open Snapchat and direct the app at my Snapcode as if you were about to take a picture of it, Snapchat will scan the code and ask if you want to add me as a friend. That is, it can reference the code against the database – recognise it’s me and add me for you – neat eh?

This is why, when you select “Add Friends” you’ll see normal stuff like “Add by Username” etc but also “Add by Snapcode”. I felt that was worth explaining as it’s a bit confusing to new users.

Most of the time you might add by username, so you can do this in the “Add Friends” option as well and then select to add their username. Very simple.


This is a fantastic app. Allow yourself time to get confident with the app but after a little while you’ll have confidence in using it and then you can really start to take advantage of it’s huge user base.

It’s a great tool for networking, sharing advice (the sort you’d see in a blog) and talking to people about your business.

If you’re new to Snapchat my main advice is to follow other people and see how they’re using it – you’ll learn what works and also find out what you do and don’t like about other snappers which allows you to decide how you wish to use it.

Firstly, you can scan my Snapcode here to follow me:

Simon Social Media Snapcode

Secondly, I suggested people to follow in both of these blogs I wrote:

I hope you’ve found that useful and why not leave a comment to let me know what you thought and if you have any other questions on Snapchat?



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