A few years ago, joining Snapchat meant one of two things: you were looking for a safe place to send nudes through, or simply a place to send weird, gross selfies to your friends from. Now, with the addition of the story feature and stickers, it's transformed from a sexting haven into a social networking platform all of its own. Yes, things have gotten a bit more complicated, but exponentially more fun as a result.
While likes, comments, and followers may seem like a petty thing to worry about (and they sometimes totally are), they're invaluable when you're trying to build your personal brand, or even just when you're sharing products and causes that are near and dear to you. Luckily, though, Snapchat is totally different from YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and basically every other social media platform. It isn't about stats—it's about engaging your audience with compelling snapshots from your life. Self-expression is key, and by experimenting alongside your followers, you'll be ushered into a new era of Internet fame.
Click through the gallery below to find out how to use Snapchat to your greatest advantage.
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Find your brand. Kylie likes to lip-synch in the car, DJ Khaled likes to reveal the keys to life and wax poetic about how "they don't want you to" do just about anything, and Paris Hilton likes to tell you what a beautiful day it is in L.A. while overlooking her doggy mansion. And while those are all well and good to incorporate into your own story from time to time, it's important to find your own thing (even if that thing may be impersonating a different celebrity every day). If you're into music, use your Snapchat to introduce your followers to new music and remind them of old-school jams. If you're into fashion, stage mini runway shows in your closet and snap your way through a shopping trip. If you're a beauty fanatic, review products and turn your stories into makeup tutorials. Or, if you're a weirdo like I am, adopt an alter ego and have them take over.
Use your story to actually, well, tell a story. There's nothing more pointless than a Snapchat story that doesn't actually have a narrative. Whether it's telling a strange story from your day, talking about some pop culture event, or going on a rant about the intersection of hip-hop and pop music, you should always be offering something to your readers, either in the name of education or entertainment. And remember: While not every snap has to relate to each other, there should be some overarching theme weaving each part of your story together.
Use the lenses, stickers + drawing tools. Every morning, Snapchat changes up its lenses. Most of them are recurring (like its puppy and rainbow puke faces), but there will inevitably be at least one brand-new lens to play with. And if you use them in creative ways (aka not just posting a video of you sitting there and staring at how different you look with exaggerated eyes and a downturned smile), they can be the most valuable way to build your brand and engage your followers.
While not nearly as new and shiny as lenses, the built-in stickers and drawing tools are the greatest ways to not only make your posts pop, but also to create a story. Using an emoji or an illustration of your own design, you basically increase your props tenfold and open up your snaps to a world where ghosts manifest themselves on screen and the moon emoji lurks behind every corner.
Face swap through a block. As with any social media site, it's important to constantly churn out content and engage your followers. If you're at a loss for what to post, face swap with a photo of a celebrity, or an actual, real-life celebrity if you have access. Play on the most caricature-worthy parts of their personality and really go for it. After all, there is literally nothing like face swapping with Kylie Jenner and informing your followers about the non-existing dangers of chemtrails.
And the most important lesson of all: Cross-promotion is key. Much like you can't wait around for a chance meet cute with Leonardo DiCaprio to happen and prove to you that soul mates are, indeed, real (trust me, I've tried), you can't just wait around for people to find your Snapchat. You need to preach your greatness and promote your Snapchat handle on your other social media platforms. Because no matter how annoying it is to see that ghost emoji next to a handle on a caption, there is a reason for it all.