Snapchat basics // for people over 21

Ok we knew it was inevitable right? Like everything else in this world social media platforms come and go. (Myspace anyone?) And although facebook seems to be staying put for the long haul, when it comes to using social media for your have to adapt to the changes or get left in the dust. 

With all the current hype about Instagram algorithms, it's no surprise that there has been a shift over to the latest social media craze...Snapchat. 

snapchat basics for people over 21

It's been around for a while (it was officially launched in 2011) but has been popular with mostly a younger crowd and has received a lot of backlash around the fact that photos on the platform "disappear" which itself lends itself to concern surrounding inappropriate content etc...It was originally intended as a messaging app but has evolved to much more over the past few years. 

I tried to use Snapchat a while back and honestly I didn't get it. I didn't understand why you would want the photo or message that someone sent you to disappear and it made it difficult to have a conversation with someone when you can't remember what they said or sent you. There have been some recent changes however that have made the application a little more user friendly, more functional and slightly more social (although the verdict is still out on that last one in my opinion.) More on that below. 

The Basics

Alright, let me break down the basics of what Snapchat actually does or what its purpose is. 

Important! Sent photos or videos are called SNAPS.  

Send messages

First, you can send snaps or messages to your friends. The messages can be text only or you can also send snaps. 

When your friend views your message or snap it will only show on their screen for the allotted amount of time that you specified when taking the photo/video (1-10) seconds. Then, POOF, it's gone. (I think you can get one re-play per day and you can pay for more? Don't quote me on that!) 

Create stories

You can also create a story. You do this by taking snaps throughout the day or during whatever you are up too. You can add text, filters the snaps and add them to your story. Your story can be visible to only your friends or you can make them visible to everyone. For example if someone adds you, but you don't add them back and your stories are visible to everyone, they can still see your story, but you won't be able to see theirs unless you add them back. 

Anything you add to your story will disappear after 24 hours. You can save your story at the end of the day (or the end of whatever you are doing) by downloading it to your phone. 

And that's it. You can send and receive messages and create stories to share with people. So here's a breakdown of the good and bad (from what I can tell from my two weeks of using the app). 

The Bad

This app is massively different from other social media apps in the fact that there is ZERO visibility into how many "followers" or "friends" YOUR friends have. I actually consider this to be good AND bad.

  • Its good because you don't get caught up in the numbers game and feeling like you are lagging behind other friends of yours who have more followers. 
  • Its bad because adding or finding friends to follow is TOUGH. It's just flat out hard to find people to connect with unless you know their username or they are in your contacts already. I'll go into a little more detail about how to add people down below. 

The other negative is that for a social media platform, it's really not all that social. Sure you can message but it's kind of cumbersome and if you check the message quickly and can't respond right away, the message disappears and you may not remember to go back and respond. When you share snaps to your story, you are basically putting it out there to the world, but there isn't really a feedback loop or way for people to respond. Viewers of your story can swipe UP and message back regarding any specific snap, but again, it's not super intuitive and it kind of interrupts the experience of watching the story. 

The Good 

  • Its fun.
  • You can add fun filters to your snaps and you can get super creative with your story.
  • Since everything disappears there aren't millions of photos or videos clogging up your phone. 
How to use snapchat if you are over 21

How to add friends

There are a few different ways to add a friend on snapchat. 

  • Add by username
  • Add by snapcode
  • Add from your address book
  • Add nearby


If you know someone's username, you can click this and then type in the username. People name themselves all sorts of things though and it doesn't tie in the person's actual name to their username. So you must know the EXACT username they are using to add them. 


This is kind of a cool feature and why you see people sharing photos of their face inside the little ghost so much on other platforms. If you take a screenshot of their "ghost" and then add by snapcode and select that screenshot, Snapchat will scan that and then add the person into your friends list. 

Add from address book 

Pretty self explanatory. It looks at the email addresses from your address book on your phone and determines if any of those peeps have snapchat. 

Add nearby

If you are around someone and you both have the "add nearby" activated, you can add each other very easily. 

There is a little area down below these options that does make some suggestions for you based on mutual friends, but otherwise there is no way to search through snapchat for potential friends or acquaintances to follow (like you can on IG or FB or Twitter). 

How to use snapchat if you are over 21

Is snapchat useful for your business? 

I definitely think the jury is still out on this one. Since it's difficult for people to find other people unless they are already connected in some other way and since there isn't an intuitive feedback loop, it feels similar to are just putting stuff out there for people to watch but you don't have a way to measure ROI.

You CAN see who has watched or viewed your snaps, which is somewhat useful, but I view Snapchat more as a way to build your brand and share a little bit more about you and your brand in a realistic and uncurated way instead of the intricately curated feeds on IG or FB. 

Snapchat basics and tips

How to take a snap and add a filter:

When you are in the camera screen, take a photo and then swipe to the left and the filters will show consecutively. To take a video, just hold the camera button down and record. The recording will only last 10 seconds!! You can also add a filter to the video by swiping to the left. 

Change to selfie mode:

Double tap the screen to quickly change to selfie mode

To add something to your story:

Take a snap and then hit the arrow in the bottom right corner. You will see the option to add to your story or send directly to a friend. 

How to use snapchat if you are over 21

To download your story

If you want to save your story at any point you can download it to your phone. You can download the entire story or you can download or save individual snaps as well. I really wanted to share a recent story of mine here in the blog, but I can't get the video to upload to Vimeo correctly even after googling extensively. I guess you will just need to follow me on Snapchat to see future stories. (Paul and I are pretty funny FYI.)

How to use snapchat if you are over 21

Alrighty! That's the basics. I'd love to know your thoughts!! Are you using Snapchat? What is your favorite feature? What do you find frustrating about it? Do you think it will be useful for business? Sound off on the comments!