I’m Determined to Figure out Snapchat

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Snapchat might be the best app ever made for educators to share their story. Not blogs. Not Twitter. Not Instagram. Snapchat. And… maybe. I might be insanely wrong, but after three weeks of trying Snapchat, I’m quickly becoming convinced. Here’s my early Snapchat moments. But first, quick backstory:

I blame @GaryVee. He is all-in on Snapchat.

I need to be honest—I had written it off Snapchat as a nefarious app that let kids make bad decisions. At best, it was an app “the kids” used. I finally downloaded the app, mostly just so that another billselak wouldn’t install it first and take my username. (Remember the @rushtonh debacle on Instagram when “@rushtonh” was taken, and Rushton Hurley was forced to create a different username: @rushtonwastake? Dude. Scary times.)

The ridiculousness of Snapchat is also the fun of it. So, I downloaded Snapchat and figured out how to follow GaryVee. I figured out pretty quickly that “My Story” was a public place to share. Unlike Instagram, you could post a series of quick photos or videos. Unlike the text-heavy interface on Twitter, Snapchat was mostly visual. Unlike Facebook, or really any social media, the goal was NOT to curate your life’s work—it was to share a simple moment or thought.

And the I forgot about Snapchat.

 

It was a the CISC Symposium that I, like GaryVee, decided to go all-in on Snapchat and finally figure this thing out. I had been hearing more about it, and seeing people linking to it like they link to their blogs. It was time.

A quick aside: one of the great things about learning a new social platform is that nobody really pays attention to you at the beginning. You simply don’t have many followers. Part of that is because you’re new and it takes time to get followers, but part of it is that your content kinda sucks. You haven’t figured it out, and it’s not that interesting. Yet. So, I felt comfortable (enough) to start posting stuff publicly on Snapchat. It was time to start populating My Story.

Curated vs. Moments

You can draw on images, which is ridiculous or amazing. Or bothOne of the draws on Instagram for me was the ability to share carefully edited photos. I love taking photos, and enjoy curating, editing, and sharing them. It was clear to me that Snapchat was NOT the place for this. Not because you can’t post quality imagery, but because the point (for me) is to share moments, and these moments expire in Snapchat’s My Story after 24 hours. It seemed like the idea was to take lots of selfies. And I don’t like those. I don’t think I’m that interesting to look at. And, more importantly, I do think that what I take nicely-edited photos of is interesting to look at. But, as I digress, Snapchat is about… uh. I’m still trying to figure that out.

Meet Jeremy

Enter Jeremy Cole. If you rewind 17,000 tweets, you’ll see that my first tweet ever was to Jeremy. The dude gets it. He is an early adopter, and figures out how to use social media to make connections. The moral of the story: when Jeremy starts using a platform a lot, you should too.

Jeremy pointed me to Ben Rosen’s Buzzfeed article My Little Sister Taught Me How To “Snapchat Like The Teens” An investigation. Now I have a better feel of what Snapchat is and isn’t. Most importantly, I learned to post more photos and less videos in My Story. And selfies. Take many many more selfies. And make them silly.

Snapchat is fun. And that’s ok.

Good times after a meeting about the new 8th grade capstone project!So now I’m trying to post more selfies, and post less video. Disclaimer: there aren’t many people I follow, and they’re all over 25 years old, so it’s a small subsection of users, and a not-cool-like-a-teenager subsection of users. That said, the people I follow post lots of videos. I’m trying to find a balance between the alleged way “the kids” are using it as described in the Buzzfeed article, and the way that my actual friends are using it so far.

 

So, three weeks in, I must admit: using Snapchat is fun. It’s spontaneous: I don’t spent a long time taking photos, deleting bad ones, editing good ones, and carefully captioning and posting photos. I take a photo, add quick text on top of the image, and post it. Here are some fun, ridiculous, and not-perfect photos and videos:

Perhaps it’s the lack of followers or perhaps it’s the interface, but the entire experience feels more authentic, less curated (in a good way), and fun! I feel like I tell a more complete story of how I’m integrating technology into the classroom, like I’m sharing my learning and my work more frequently, and like I’m including more colleagues than ever before.

So, if you’re not on Snapchat, sign up and follow me. Save this image, open Snapchat, swipe down, and Add Friends > Add by Snapcode. Then we’ll hang out, and figure out Snapchat together along the way.

  • Laurie Witte

    I am a high school teacher and have a deep dislike for social media because I see all the negativity connected with using the various forms: Twitter, Snapchat, Face Book, Instagram, etc. Too much of it is used as a forum for bullies and teenagers lives have been destroyed by posts. I don’t use any of the above social media tools, mostly because of the above reason, but I’d like to. I am getting closer and closer to downloading snapchat and here are a few reasons why….I have kept in touch with many of my past students and teachers I use to work with by text message, but I miss out on all the really important things in their lives. Some that I wish kept in better contact with me, don’t text as often as I’d like but with snapchat I wouldn’t have that problem. The 2 reasons keeping me from downloading the app is how confusing it seems to be to use, but after reading your blog I feel more confident that I can. The second reason is, I really don’t care to see all the dumb things people do snapchat every minute of the day. I am still on the fence but closer to your side. Thank you for showing me the positive side of snapchat.

  • Laurie, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think of social media as a tool, much like a pencil can be used to write offensive things. However, we give our students pencils in school all the time. If they write an inappropriate note, we deal with it as teachers. Social tools like Snapchat are the same. If you’re following the right people, Snapchat and Instagram and Twitter are amazing places to connect with other educators and past students.
    I totally agree that Snapchat is not straightforward to use. To me, that’s part of the fun of it. If you swipe up, something happens. If you long press on your face, something happens.