Snapchat has been in my peripheral vision since it launched in 2011, but my knowledge of it was that it was popular with teens and pre-teens, who used it for sexting and saucy snaps, and somehow got caught doing this despite snaps self-destructing after only a few seconds.Snapchat Ghost

However, it appears that it’s been gaining popularity with older users in recent months, as there’s more to it than instant gratification. How useful it is for business owners remains to be seen, but in an age where we share updates of our lives constantly, perhaps it has a place after all.

As well as sending images, it can be used for text-style and video chat. It’s also possible to add graphics, tell “stories” about things that have happened during the day, and even watch live events.

How does Snapchat Work?

So how does it work? Like other social media networks, you can quickly sign up with an email address and password, but because it’s designed to be used with a camera and on the go, it’s easier to download the app on your smartphone. The app then searches your contacts to see who you know who’s also a user, and adds them. It also has a mini video to show you the basics.

As someone who feels awkward with the reverse camera setting on the iPhone, I then didn’t rush to “snap” myself. But the advantage is that you can take a picture of anything, and the story facility allows you to broadcast to followers, so for people whose businesses rely on social media, it’s a great way to have another channel to build relationships.

You choose the length of the snap and how long the recipient has to view it, although stories (multiple snaps) are available for 24 hours. The recipient can then take a screenshot to preserve the snap, and the sender is notified that this has happened. While this raises questions about privacy and security, it could be positive for business users.

Finding Snapchat Users

The Discover feature allows you to look at editorials from news and magazine sites (such as Cosmo and CNN), with fresh content every day. Like Twitter, you can follow anyone you want, but search functionality is a bit basic (unless I’ve missed something!) There is a Snapchat directory available online, but it only provides usernames, so if the person you’re looking for has a username that’s nothing like their real name, you’ll be a bit stuck.

I’ve started to follow a couple of people to see what sort of things they share, and I’m starting to see the potential. I’ll keep you posted!