How To Use Snapchat In 2016: An In-depth Guide




Welcome to 2016 folks.

This is the year that will blow the lip off Snapchat, and place it firmly up there with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as one of the most popular AND influential social media platforms.

A quick search on Google will produce a whole host of in-depth guides and posts about how to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And while there are a few about how to use Snapchat, there isn’t a guide that I’ve seen that encompasses everything that I wanted to know when I first set up my account.

So, on that note, compiling bits of info of what’s already out there on the net and incorporating what I’ve learned as a Snapchatter, I’ve went and created that guide!

how to use snapchat

How to use snapchat guide

We decided to put together this guide on Snapchat to give you an in-depth look at how to use this amazing platform in either your personal or business life.

You’re going to find a lot of information in this post along with a ton of photos, which will give you a visual footpath to follow for certain aspects of the app.

For those of you who are familiar or experienced with the basics of Snapchat, then you can skip the irrelevant sections.

However, before you do that, have a quick look at the Index below just so you can see what’s going to be covered in this Snapchat guide:

Snapchat Guide: Index

History and Introduction

PART 1: Setting up and using Snapchat

1a. Snapchat definitions
1b. Create an account
1c. Finding your way around the app
1d. Taking and editing your first snaps
1e. How to share your snaps
1f. Quick reference guide

PART 2: How to add and interact with other users

2a. How to add new users
2b. How to view the stories from people you follow
2c. How to use the private messages screen
2d. How to understand the private messaging symbols
2e. Using Snapchat “Discover”

PART 3: Using filters, Lenses and some advanced tricks

3a. Using filters
3b. Custom Geo-filters
3c. Using Lenses
3d. Advanced tricks
3e. Settings

PART 4: How brands use snapchat as part of their marketing strategy

4a. MapQuest
4b. S-Trip
4c. Eleven Lights Media

PART 5: The future of Snapchat

5a. Potential future updates
5b. That’s a rap
5c. Follow us on Snapchat


Ok, grab yourself an extra large cup of coffee and settle down for about 30 mins.


History of Snapchat and an introduction to its uses

Rather than me rehash the history of snapchat, here’s a link to a quick slideshare article that will give you the bones of the story – Brief History of Snapchat

We did create a little infograph, however, to give you a visual look at how snapchat has evolved throughout the years:

snapchat infograph

Snapchat is different

Snapchat isn’t just another social media platform that conforms to the same methods of interaction as the other usual suspects.

From the outset, the app allows users to send and receive video, photo and text messages and the data is only available for a specific amount of time.

However, if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that it provides a unique and intriguing way to distribute content to a massive demographic.

Snapchat isn’t just for teeny boppers anymore!

Remember back when Facebook started? Everyone said it was just for teenagers…and they were right, because Facebook was initially invented for college students to communicate with each other.

Nowadays, everyone and their mothers are on Facebook and if a business doesn’t have a Facebook page, then they’re leaving potential money on the table.

Snapchat is now at the stage Facebook was at back in 2010….it’s ready to EXPLODE!

Brands like CNN, MTV, Nat Geo, and Taco Bell just to name a few, are all using the platform to interact, promote and engage with their audience (more info coming later on about how brands use Snapchat).

How is Snapchat effective?

Snapchat mirrors how we interact on a day-to-day basis.

If you met someone on the street and had a conversation, then once that conversation is over, the content is no longer available to analyse.

Think about it for a minute!

When we talk to people in general day to day life, we don’t record/store that conversation.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms that keep a visual record of what you post, Snapchat deletes it after a limited time.

Snapchat provides a place for quick one-off video and photo updates with a limited amount of editing capabilities available.

This keeps things real!

Snapchat has HUGE engagement rates

Let’s use Facebook as an example to illustrate this;

Let’s say you’ve got 5,000 followers that like your Facebook page and you publish a piece of content (photo/video/status update). Facebook’s algorithm makes it impossible for all 5,000 of your followers to see your update in their news feed.

You’d have to pay for that privilege and even with that, you’re still unsure as to exactly how many people actually saw your update in their feed.

It’s the same over on Twitter, because when you post a tweet at any given time during the day/night, there will only be a selection of your followers online at that time. Research has shown that the shelf-life of a single tweet is about 15 minutes!

ENTER Snapchat!

People choose where their attention goes on Snapchat…..they make that decision, and algorithms don’t interfere with it.

When a person that follows you on Snapchat views your story, photo, video or text message, then they intentionally clicked on the snap to view it. They had to take action to see what you posted.

What’s even better is that when someone clicks on your snap, the screen opens up fully to 100% so that they see nothing but your content.

Nothing else is cluttering their view.

You get to deliver your message on 100% of the screen and there’s not too many places where you can do that, is there?

Snapchat keeps updates to a Max of 10 seconds

This is a low time investment for people to view your content. It’s a safe bet to assume that if you’ve 1000 people following you on Snapchat, then at least 500 – 800 of them will view each snap you deliver…as long as you keep putting decent content out there of course.

That’s CRAZY attention metrics if you ask me.

Ok, that’s enough of an introduction to this social giant….let’s get started on this how to use snapchat guide by creating and using an account.



Snapchat Definitions


Ok, in order to make sure you’re following along with me, I’ve added a few definitions that are used to describe certain elements inside Snapchat.

Snap: This is an ephemeral piece of content (video/photo/text) sent to your story board or another person through Snapchat.

Friend: If you’ve added another user to your contact list then he/she is considered a friend.

Follower: This is when a user adds you/follows your snaps, but you do not add/follow them back.

Story board: When you take a Snap, you have the option of sending it to your “story”. A story is a chronological collection of your snaps and they last for exactly 24 hours.

Utilising the story board feature is how brands are using Snapchat to deliver engaging content to their audience.

Anyone that follows you can see your “stories” unless you’ve changed this setting in the settings section. You can also view the stories of those who you follow (unless they’ve changed the setting themselves to only allow people they follow to view their stories).

Creating a Snapchat Account


Creating an account on Snapchat is as easy as you’d expect it to be.

Depending on whether you’re on an iPhone or Android device, you’ll need to go to the relevant app store and search for the app.

iPhone users go Here to download it.

Android users go Here to download it.

For iPad device owners, then you will need to go to the app store on your device and change the setting from “iPad” to “iPhone” so that the results will show the Snapchat app when you search. This is due to the fact that the app was only created for use on phones.

So, once you’ve installed the app on your device, you just need to click the “Sign Up” button.

Your username will be what you use when you log into the app. Other users can also use your username to find you and possibly add you as a friend etc.

Your display name can be changed to something that will be easily recognisable to your friends.

So as a quick example, our Snapchat username is “nxtstopwhoknows” but our display name is “Next Stop Who Knows”.

After you input your username, you’ll need to enter your name, DOB, email and any other information so that you can get logged into the app for the first time.

Finding your way around the app


Ok, so the first time you use Snapchat, you’ll more than likely be confused with how to find your way around the app.

Swiping left, right, up and down can confuse the best of us, but have no fear, because the best and easiest way to fully understand the Snapchat maze is to see a visual representation of the screens.

You can use this image as a quick reference guide if you’re having trouble finding the various screens in Snapchat.

snapchat guide

Just take a few minutes initially to swipe through the various screens and get used to where things are.

It gets a lot easier to understand after the first few interactions with the app.

Taking and editing your first snaps


Creating and editing a snap is as easy as either tapping (photo) or holding the button (video) on the camera screen below.

snapchat guide

Whenever you take a photo or video, you have the option of deleting it by pressing the X in the top left of the camera screen.

If you’re happy with the snap, then you have options to add text and icons as well as drawing on the snap.

Ok, so let’s add some text in this snap by pressing the T button at the top of the screen:

snapchat for travel bloggers

Once you tab the T button you can start typing away. To get out of the typing mode, you just have to click anywhere else on the screen.

You can also reposition the text by pressing and holding on text and dragging it up or down.

If you would like the text to appear bigger, then all you’ve got to do it tap the T button again and the text size will change.

Ok, you can also draw in a snap by pressing the pencil Icon in the top right hand side of the screen. I’ve drawn a few blue arrows up towards the sky because my drawing abilities are extremely limited I’m afraid!

drawing on snapchat

You can also change the colour by moving your finger up and down the vertical colour line on the right.

If you make a mistake while you’re drawing, then you can tab the backward arrow beside the pencil to go back.

When you’re finished drawing, you just have to tab the pencil icon again to get out of the drawing mode.

Now let’s add an emoji or sticker to the snap. These emojis add some creativity to the snap and you can place as many of them as you like on any one snap.

I’ve just added a thunder cloud emoji to my masterpiece to add some emphasis to the text I’ve written.

snapchat emojis

To add an emoji you just have to tap the post-it note icon in the top right of the screen and you’ll get access to a full library of various icons. As I said, you can add as many as you like so you can be as creative as you like.

When you’ve placed your emoji, you can then increase or decrease its size by pinching in or out on it with two fingers.

Right, so you’ve taken a snap, added some text, made a silly drawing and added an emoji to it.

Next, you need to set the amount of seconds that you want the snap to show up for on your friends screen when they view it.

To set this, you tap the clock timer in the bottom left of the screen and change the duration anywhere from 1 – 10 seconds.

This is only relevant for photo snaps, since video snap duration will be determined by the length of time you held the camera button down for.

Now, the only thing left to do is to send it to someone.

Note: You don’t have to add any text, emojis or drawings to your photo or video snaps. This is just to illustrate the mechanics of how things work if you do want to get creative with your snaps.

Note: You can also add filters, face lenses and geofilters to your snaps, and we’ll talk about these a little later.

How to share your snaps


Once you’re ready to share your snap, you’ve got a choice of 3 options.

1. Share it to your story

Just tap the square with the ‘+’ sign in it at the bottom of the screen and that’s it done.

Everyone that follows you will be able to see your snap as part of your 24-hour story.

2. Share it to individual friends

Tap the right arrow button at the bottom right of the screen and you’ll get a list of all your contacts/friends that you follow.

From here, you’ll be able to select which friends you’d like to receive your snap.

When you’ve selected who you’d like to receive the snap as a PM, just click the right arrow on the bottom and you’re finished.

3. Share it to both your story & individual friends

Tap the right arrow button at the bottom and click both the “story” and the individual friends that you’d like to receive the snap.

When you’re done, you can click the right arrow button to send the snaps.

Note: You may be asking why you’d send the snap to both the story and individual people?

Well, since the story only allows your snaps to be visible for 24 hours, some of the friends that you’d like to see the snap mightn’t be on the app during that time and they’ll never get to see what you posted.

Sending your snaps to them privately gives you the guarantee that, should they not be on Snapchat for let’s say 2-3 days, your snaps will still be seen by them when they choose to log in again.

To illustrate the sending process, I’ve put together a quick GIF that shows you exactly how to do the above:

snapchat gif

Notes about sharing

1. Your snaps that you add to your story are available in chronological order from oldest to newest.

2. Snaps that you send to individual people disappear after the time you set them for (1 – 10 seconds)

3. Snaps in your story can be viewed as many times as someone wants to see them in the 24 hour period.

4. All snaps can be “screenshotted” by whoever follows you (friends/followers).

That’s the end of Part 1 of this guide.

It may seem like a lot to take in if you’re new to Snapchat, but it’s easy once you go in and mess around with it for 10 minutes. Don’t do it yet though!

Here a quick reference image for you to look back over:


quick reference guide part 1


How to add new users


In order to use snapchat to its fullest potential, you’re going to want to add a few people to follow. This way you can also gain some new followers if they add you back.

To get started, you need to tap the snapchat icon at the top of your “camera screen”.

This brings you to your profile screen. From here you are presented with the Add Friends option.

How to add by username

There are a few ways to add people but I’m just going to give details of the two most common methods.

The first method is: Add by username.

As the name suggests, this allows you to manually type in the name of the person you are looking to follow on snapchat.

When you input the username, a square box with a “plus” icon in the middle of it will signify that the username exists.

You can simple tap this square to “add” the person.

Here’s what that looks like:



snapchat add my username

How to add by snapcode

This method of adding people is pretty neat and can be done on the fly.

Each user has their own unique snapcode, which is basically an arrangement of dots.

If you open the snapchat app to the home/camera screen and point the camera at this snapcode then the app will recognise the pattern and give you the option of adding that user.


adding user by snapcode

Note that this method is not possible if you’re looking at a code through your browser or on FB etc. If you see someone’s snapcode on FB or on a website and you want to follow them, this is what you have to do instead:

1. Save the image to your camera roll or gallery

2. Choose the “Add by snapcode” option as above

3. Select the image you just saved on your camera roll or gallery

Snapchat will then do the rest for you by scanning the snapcode and giving you the option to add that person as a friend.

If you’re a little confused, then here’s another GIF that will show you how easy it is:

how to add users on snapchat

How to view the stories from people you follow


In order to view someone else’s story in snapchat you’re going to have to navigate to the “story screen” first.

You do this by swiping your finger to the left hand side of the screen when you’re on the home/camera screen.

This brings you to the stories screen.

From here you’ll see a list of all the users you follow under a “recent updates” list.

As I mentioned earlier, these stories are only available for 24 hours. So if you don’t see an update from someone in particular, it may be due to them not updating in the past 24 hours….or you being late to the party!

To view their story, all you’ve got to do is tap that users name and it will automatically load for you.

Note: Snapchat recently just released an update for the app which autoplays the next story in your list once the current one is finished.

With the new update you can also swipe your finger from right to left during a users story to advance to the next users story.

How to use the private messages screen


In order to access your private messages screen, you’ll have to swipe from left to right on the camera/home screen.

Once you’re in the private messages screen, you can view and send private messages.

The most recent update to snapchat has added a bunch of new features which all add a lot more functionality to the app.

Here’s another quick GIF for you to show you how to access the private area.

snapchat update features

Here’s some information about the new features that snapchat have added:

Video calling

While the old version of snapchat did have a video calling function, it wasn’t the easiest to use. Both users had to be in the chat window at the same time for it to work.

Now, with the update, you can leave a video message whether they’re in the chat window or not.

You have the option of “watching” the video call if someone opts to video call you. This means that you can see them, but they won’t be able to see you.

Also, you don’t have to have the whole screen taken up by the video chat with the new update. Instead, all you need to do is swipe on the screen to change from full-screen to a quarter sized circle on the screen.

What this means is that you can continue to add photos, messages, stickers etc while you’re in the video call.

Video notes

If you hold down the camera icon in the private message to a user, the you can record at clip of up to 10 seconds long. It only activates the front facing camera.

Audio notes

You can now send audio “voicemails” in Snapchat in just the same way as you can on Whatsapp.

In order to send a quick voice note, you just hold down the “phone” icon on the screen and talk away. When you let go, it automatically sends it.

If you don’t want to send the audio note while you’re talking, then just drag your finger over the red X in the middle of the screen and it will delete it for you.

Audio notes work in the same way as they do in other apps. The audio comes through the speaker if you don’t have the phone held to your ear during playback.

The latest update in Snapchat has added a ton of functionality and I assume that Snapchat is going after a slice of the Whatsapp market…especially with the amount of millennials using Snapchat on a day to day basis.

How to understand the private messaging symbols


When I first started using Snapchat, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the various message symbols meant.

If you’re feeling like I did about those symbols, then don’t worry because I’ve created a handy image below that illustrates what the various symbols mean. You can thank me later,

how to use snapchat

It’s really easy to use the one-on-one private messaging features in the app after you get used to how they work.

The benefits for brands/businesses etc to be able to quickly respond to their audience/customers is huge.

Using the “Discover” feature on Snapchat


This feature allows users to consume content from big brands in the form of a snapchat story.

Just like normal snapchat stories, these “discover” stories disappear after 24 hours.

This is a huge marketing opportunity for the brands that are currently partnered up with Snapchat.

Yahoo News, Nat Geo, CNN, ESPN, Daily Mail and Cosmopolitan are some of the brands currently using the Discover feature to pump out tailor made content specifically for Snapchatters.

To access the Discover screen, you open up the home/camera screen, and swipe from right to left twice until you get to the Discover page.

snapchat discover page

Once you get here, you can then choose what content you’d like to view.

As I said, the content in the Discover section is created especially for Snapchat, so it contains video, audio and text elements.

Have a look through the various brands there and you’ll see how cool the content created for the platform is.

To exit out of the Discover screen, just swipe upwards.


In part 3 of this guide, we’re going to talk about using filters, lenses and a few other neat tricks to expand your creativity inside the app!

Using Filters


One of the coolest features that you can add to any of your snaps is a filter. In addition to being able to add text, emojis and drawings to the snap – you can also add a filter…or two!

These filters can change the colour of your snap by enhancing the saturation, turn it into black and white, speed up/slow down, reverse the direction of the snap, show the time that the snap was taken at and also the speed at which the snap was recorded at.

Geo-filters are based on your location and are very cool, especially for travel bloggers. Most of these geo-filters will show the name of the city/town that you’re currently in, but there’s also custom geo-filters that can be used by brands for a specific geo-location.

When you take a snap, all you have to do is swipe left or right anywhere on the screen in order to view the various filters that are available to you. The usual ones will always be available (slow motion/speed up/slow down/time/enhancements etc) and, depending on where you are, there may be some, one or no geo-filters available .

Not every location has one of these geo-filters available.

Here’s an example of a geo-filter added to one of our snaps from Athens:

How to use snapchat

The value that these geo-filters bring to the table for the big brands who are willing to invest in their own customised geo-filter is huge. It’s still early days, but in two or three years time, these geo-filters are going to be everywhere!!

Custom made geo-filters


Some of you may not be aware that you can make your own custom geo-filters on snapchat.

It’s an easy prediction to assume that custom made geo-filters are going to be a huge marketing tactic for brands and businesses.

Unless you’re tech savvy with the likes of photoshop and/or illustrator, then your best bet is to pay someone who knows what they’re doing. Luckily, we know a fellow travel blogger who provides this service for a nominal fee.

Cailin O’Neil from Travel Yourself is one of our favourite travel bloggers on Snapchat and she has made some pretty cool custom made geo-filters for the app, including this one:


cailin o'neil custom snapchat geo-filters

Custom made geo-filters with Cailin O’Neil

If you’re looking for information about your own geo-filter then she’s the person we’d highly recommend to get in touch with.

You can email her at: Cailinoneil (at) travelyourself (dot) ca

Contact her on Snapchat at: cailinoneil

Using Lenses


Lenses are a recent addition to snapchat and aren’t as beneficial as filters in my opinion. They are a lot of fun though!!

They’re basically masks that allow the camera lens on your phone to distort your face. See below and you’ll get the picture I’m sure!

To use one of these lens (they change every so often), all you have to do is go to the home/camera screen and make sure that the camera is facing you.

Hold down on your face on the screen for a second and the camera will recognise it. Once it does, you’ll see a selection of different lenses that you can apply.

Swipe left and right to see the new effect the lens has etc.

We’ve gone to the trouble of adding a few of us here for you : )

snapchat lenses

Advanced Tricks

Additional colours

You’ve already probably noticed that black or white (the individual colours) are not available on the colour ladder when you’re drawing on a snap.

However, additional colours can be found (including both black and white) by dragging your finger down the colour ladder from the top to the bottom of the screen.

Try it out and you’ll see what I mean. Just place your finger on the colour ladder and drag it down and you’ll see the colour option changes (black). If you drag it over to the left instead of down, you’ll also see it changes (white).

Third-party apps

Some brands/users are using various third party apps to upload content created outside of Snapchat to their storylines. This goes against Snapchats T&C’s so be very careful if you go down this route.

Some people say that it takes away from the whole reason why Snapchat is so appealing in the first place. Others say that it can add to the story if used in the correct way.

It’s really down to personal preference on this one but I feel that there’s enough polished content going on the likes of FB and Instagram that it’s nice to keep things as real as possible as Snapchat.

Cross promoting your snap stories on other platforms

Snapchat is a pretty tough platform to build a following on.


It doesn’t have any generalised search function built into the app so that you can randomly find others to follow. You must either know their username, or have their snapcode in order to find them.

That also means that other users won’t be able to find you unless they also have your username or snapcode.

What can you do so in order to gain followers?

Cross-promotion on other platforms is the answer.

There’s no other easy way about this. If you’ve already built up a following on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube then you can most certainly leverage them to your advantage.

Why not have your email signature include your Snapchat username?

Or why not change your profile photo on your other channels to your snapcode image, just like we’ve done here on Facebook?


snapchat on facebook

Change your facebook profile photo for more exposure

You can also schedule in some tweets with your snapchat username in it telling followers what you’re up to on the app.

By letting people know on other social media platforms that you’re going to be posting content exclusively on snapchat about something, then you’re inviting them to join you if they want to catch all the action.

Making people feel like they’re missing out if they’re not following you on Snapchat is the key to getting them from your FB, Instagram and Twitter accounts over to follow you on Snapchat.

One of the biggest tactics to repurpose your recorded content is to download your story and then upload it to Youtube so that it’s available after it disappears from the Snapchat servers (24 hours).

To do this is pretty easy.

1. All you need to do is head to the “stories screen” from the home/camera screen by swiping right to left.

2. At the stories screen, you press the 3 vertical dots to the right of “my story”

3. Then you’ll see a downward pointing arrow.

4. Click this arrow and your story will download to your camera roll!


Once you have the file available in your gallery or camera roll, you can then upload it to Youtube and repurpose it there.

A few notes about doing this to bear in mind about image/video quality

  • When you upload a photo or video snap to the Snapchat servers, they compress the photo/image
  • When you download a photo/video or story from Snapchat, then the quality will have been already compressed
  • Snapchat servers keep the file sizes of photos and videos to 1mb max (I could be wrong here?)

You may notice a degradation in image quality if you download snaps after they’ve already been uploaded to Snapchat.

In order to keep the original quality of your photos and videos from Snapchat then there’s only one solution:

Download each photo and video individually to your camera roll/gallery BEFORE you upload them to the app.

While this is not exactly a practical way to go about things, you may want to publish a particular Snapchat story to your youtube channel with the best quality available, so this is the only thing you can do to ensure it for now.

If anyone else knows of another method, then please let me know!



In order to fully maximise the exposure you can get in Snapchat, it’s important that you have the correct settings enabled.

Make sure you’ve enabled “everyone” in the who can “contact me” and “view my story” settings.

The series of images below show you how to do this.

snapchat settings

I was messing with the settings a while ago and forgot to make sure that “everyone” was ticked.

Suddenly our views per snap decreased over night by about 70%. We didn’t know what was happening as it was such a huge drop.

It turned out that it was because I’d only enabled “friends” that I followed to see our snaps and not “everyone”.

It took me a week to figure out my mistake. Once I clicked it back to “everyone” then the views per snap went straight back up to normal.

For those who are trying to build brand recognition, making sure that people are actually allowed to interact with you on Snapchat is important.

The downside to letting everyone contact you is that you invariably will get random private messages from users.

If those messages are inappropriate then you can block them, but it can be annoying and time consuming to constantly police it.


How brands use snapchat as part of their marketing strategy

As part of this guide, I wanted to include a section where I showed you some real life examples of how brands and businesses are using Snapchat in their marketing campaigns.

In order to do this, I reached out to five different businesses and I got a favourable reply from three of them, who were happy to provide an insight for this part of the guide.



The folks at MapQuest were extremely helpful and went out of their way to provide as much info as they could with this section. I had a video call with two of their employees so that they could explain in detail how they’ve been using snapchat over the past few months.

To reach the 18 to 24 year old demographic, MapQuest has most recently begun to engage users through SnapChat. This month (March 2016), MapQuest launched four custom made geo-filters to complement its safety-focused efforts in the spring break capital of the world, Panama City Beach.

Each year, more than 370,000 college students embark on spring break adventures in Panama City Beach. To help ensure a safe week of fun and adventure, MapQuest spent twelve days onsite reminding students to make safe transportation choices and to stay hydrated.

Since the start of the spring break campaign, the MapQuest SnapChat has seen a 1,174 percent increase in followers with 64 percent of those followers viewing MapQuest stories.

Although the geo-filter ads can run for a maximum of 30 days at any one time, to date there have been 163,915 views and 2,482 uses of the geo-filters they used in this campaign.

They were kind enough to send me some examples of their custom made geo-filters that they used for the spring break campaign as you can see below:

mapquest on snapchat

While they’ve only been using snapchat for about six months now, MapQuest has seen the huge engagement potential that this platform can provide them.



Up next is S-Trip!

They are a student travel company from Canada and the USA that travels over 30,000 youths from the age of 16-24.

They admit that they’ve found SnapChat to be an incredible platform to reach their target audience.

We utilise the SnapChat story to communicate with our audience, share information, gather feedback on merchandise and design, and run fun contests and giveaways.

An example of this:

“Recently we were deciding on a few different designs for sunglasses that our travellers would receive, and we decided to share both options on our SnapChat story, and within minutes we had over a hundred real-time votes directly from our demographic.”

That’s pretty cool in my opinion!

They also run fun contests, like asking their followers to show off their ‘must-have-item’ in their luggage.. S-Trip view, interact, and pick a winner.

It’s a great way to have direct contact with your audience. With SnapChat, you have their full-attention, and there are no other distractions.”

s-trip on snapchat

Their marketing manager, Derek continued with this:

“So our trips are very cyclical, and our heavy travel season is March, and June/July. So as you could imagine we have a lot of time away from traveling, in the office, preparing for our next set of trips.

We love running little contests that actually get our followers involved. Whether it’s getting them to share their favourite travel memory, show off their packing style, or just to draw their best beach photo on the SnapChat app, we love seeing submissions and share them with our whole team when they come in.

Another way we use Snapchat is to get direct feedback about a variety of different things.

We often have little votes, or polls where we Snap a picture of new sunglasses we are thinking about creating, or a new logo for a hat we are planning on giving to travellers on our trips.

We even had a SnapChat vote (studenttrip) to determine the cover photo of our 2017 S-Trip! Brochure which goes out to over 100,000 people.

We are actually letting our audience decide what they want to see before trips, on-trips, & after trips, because who better to set trends than our trendsetting audience.

During travel season, it’s a whole other strategy. We have over 300 destination staff that travel with our groups, and are with them throughout their entire trip.

So what better way to get first hand photo and videos than from our awesome Trip Leaders. Our staff then take the reigns on our account and create some epic SnapChat stories from all over the world.

In one day you could have a story about a beach party in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, a Volunteer Abroad excursion in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Ziplining in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, or a City tour in Nassau, Bahamas.

It’s always so exciting whether you’re on a trip, at our office, or just a casual fan to check out our story and feel like you’re there.

s-trip snapchat

Derek concluded with one tip for brands/businesses that are using snapchat:

The one thing I would suggest is to never let your content go stale.

If your audience keeps seeing the same content over and over again, they grow passive and will skip over your story.
Mix up your SnapChat content with epic photos, fun videos, and calls to action to get your audience involved.”

I love that advice, because it’s so true. If your followers keep seeing the same content then they don’t need to watch your stories any more!

Eleven Lights Media


Sarah from Eleven Lights Media told me about her social media agency that’s based in Australia.

I’ve been using Snapchat specifically for the last 6 months as a marketing tool.
Some of the things I do include hosting a ‘#LessonsWithLinc show’ where viewers can ask questions to my dog Lincoln about social media.

eleven lights media

It’s just an interesting way of disseminating information instead of just being a talking head.

Another thing I do is show the behind the scenes of filming (I have been creating videos over the last month) and people get to see snippets and then I let everyone know when it’s live on Facebook.

Probably something I do that’s a little more strategic is when I write for Medium, I put the link on Snapchat as its own link so I can monitor who comes from Snapchat.

These are just a few examples of how I use it as a marketing tool.

The above three examples show a few different approaches as to how Snapchat can be used as a really powerful marketing tool.

Brands like Taco Bell do a lot of mini “movie” storylines with their snapchat and they’re pretty cool to watch.

In order to get creative ideas for your own snapchat approach, it’s a wise move to follow other influencers and see what angle they’re taking.

There’s no right or wrong way to use snapchat, but if you’re smart about how you use it, then you can quickly build a following.



The future of Snapchat


Snapchat’s fifth birthday is this year. With over 100 million daily users and 8 billion video views per day, one thing is certain; Snapchat is here to stay for a very, very long time!

Make no mistake about that. It’s not just another one off platform that will soon disappear. This thing is BIG, and it’s going to gain even more momentum in the next few years.

The app has already changed a lot since its inception, with the addition of the “Discover” feature, story mode and a host of other features that have been slowly added over the years.

There certainly will be a lot more changes introduced in Snapchat and there’s plenty of speculation about what those features could be.

Here’s a few of the big updates that you may very well see shortly in Snapchat:

These ideas mainly come from a very insightful website created by Oscar Lance, called

Oscar goes into a lot of detail on what he thinks the future holds for the app. He’s even created images showing us what these new changes would look like.

His website has been featured on The Business Insider website, so please check it out.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the main changes that he envisages;

1. Ability to tag friends

You’d be able to tag as many friends as you wanted in a snap. If you were tagged, then you’d get a notification and be able to see who else was tagged in the post.

This would give you the opportunity to follow the others that were also tagged – increasing both users exposure.

2. Better profile details

The ability to view a short bio about the person so that you can get to know a little bit about them before you decide to follow them.

This profile info piece may also have the ability to showcase a few “saved stories” so that new followers could catch a glimpse of a few of your best snaps. I personally like this idea a lot.

3. Stronger search function

Being able to search by name and get recommendations and suggestions based on your location and interests.

4. Name your story

Say you’re currently running a story about a trip from Rome to Paris or something like that. Having the ability to name your story could be possible in a future update.

5. Show the number of views in your story

This is a feature that a lot of Snapchat influencers and brands would definitely like to see I’m sure.

Maybe we will have the option to turn on/off this feature?!

6. Better way of managing your friends

Having their profile image show up in the “my friends” section rather than the current ghost image that’s there. Also possibly adding friends into groups could be on the horizon!

7. Ability to save stories

This would allow users to save a story for up to 7 days or something like that. This would be suitable for those running a longer storyline for instance.

8. More editing features

We’re already seeing slow motion, reverse/fast-forward video clips and other additions in recent updates, so don’t be surprised to see plenty more creativity added in the near future.

Those are some of the features that Oscar talks about on his website.


Of course, there are going to be people who will hate any change with Snapchat, but as I said before, the app has changed massively since 2011 so it’s not going to suddenly stop evolving.

Whether you agree with the above suggestions or not is entirely a matter of personal preference. I think change is a good thing, and there are areas for improvement within the app so bring it on!

That’s a rap!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this monster of a guide to snapchat?

It’s by far the most time I’ve ever spent writing a blog post. In fact, the last time I spent so much time on a writing project was my thesis on clinical oncology in college (which was considerably more difficult!) 🙂

This guide was created to give beginners an in-depth visual look at how snapchat works, its huge potential as a marketing tool and a look at how brands are currently using the platform to engage with their audience.

If you’ve any questions, then please drop us a comment below and feel free to share this guide if you feel it will show your friends how to get started on snapchat.

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And, of course, you’re welcome to follow us on our journey where we show you the good, the bad and sometimes ugly side of travel – in other words…the real side of travel!

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