News for Authors

Snapchat 101

by Milena Schmidt |October, 2016

It’s time we looked at Snapchat, one of the fastest-growing and most-buzzed-about social platforms, with more than 200 million active users. Snapchat is known for its high concentration of millennial users, which makes it a great tool for connecting with the thirty-four-and-younger set.  However, recent reports show that older users are quickly taking to the app as well. 

Perhaps you created a Snapchat account to see what everyone is talking about but haven’t done much with it. Or maybe you use Snapchat in your personal life and have been thinking about ways to incorporate it in your book-promotion strategy. Before you start snapping, take a minute to consider if your books and readership align with Snapchat’s demographic. If your readership skews much older, it might be better to consider other social channels and types of promotion.


Snapchat Overview

Snapchat is a messaging app that allows users to take photos or videos, called snaps, and send them to other users. An astounding 8,796 snaps are sent per second and 7 billion videos are viewed on Snapchat per day, compared to Facebook’s 8 billion views (Bloomberg News, January 2016).  Snaps can be sent to users with whom you are connected for a maximum of ten seconds, after which that snap is deleted forever. Unopened snaps expire in thirty days. Users can also post a snap to a story. A Snap Story lasts for twenty-four hours and users can watch your story as many times as they would like during that time. The platform also allows users to chat directly, sending text, photos, and videos from a separate page of the app, much like a text-message screen.


Using Snapchat’s Features

Filters: Add Snapchat filters after taking a snap to give your photo or video extra flair. Swipe right after taking a picture to add various filters, tap the T to place text over your picture, tap the pen to draw on it, and tap the sticker tab to place emojis and images on your screen.

Augmented Reality: When lining up the perfect photo, press and hold on your face to activate one of Snapchat’s newest and most popular features. Snapchat is an early innovator in augmented reality, and you can impose various masks over your face that will follow your movements and will react when you open your mouth or raise your eyebrow.

My Story:  Snapchat’s “My Story” feature allows users to add multiple snaps to this section of their profile. It is the easiest place for followers and other users to access your latest content. To post a picture to My Story, create your snap, then select “My Story” when you send it. Depending on your settings, each story is accessible either to your followers or to everyone who uses Snapchat. The story section provides analytics that allow you to see how many views each snap in your story has received and also how many screenshots of your content have been taken. This information can help you see what types of content resonate with your readers.

Our Story: This feature highlights a location or event and creates a public feed for it. The feed is viewable by anyone with Snapchat, but only those present at the location/event can post to the feed. This differs from a single user’s story because it has multiple contributors. After you craft a snap, the local or event story will show up just below My Story. Simply check the box to send it to the public feed.


Snap to It!

Snapchat is all about sharing life’s fleeting moments with others, and presents many opportunities for authors to connect with readers. Once you’ve downloaded the app, take a few minutes to read a guide to getting started and snap away.

Snapchat isn’t known for its search capabilities, so be sure to share your username with your readers on your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Follow a few literary and author accounts to see what others are snapping. Some pros you can take cues from include John Green (johngreensnaps), Scott Sigler (scottsigler) Lena Dunham (lenadunham), and Chrissy Teigen (chrissyteigen).


Below are ideas to help you create engaging content for readers:

  • Give your fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your writing life. Show them where you write or the inspiration for your work, and snap from an event or signing.
  • Create short videos that showcase your areas of expertise. This is an easy way for cooks, crafters, and other lifestyle authors to share valuable tips and build an audience.
  • Reply to a snap. It’s not realistic to do this for every snap but the occasional direct communication will compel readers to seek out your content.
  • Tell a story with a series of snaps. Stories on Snapchat allow you to add a sort of narrative structure to posts. Document a book tour or other events in this manner.
  • Enhance your snaps with text, drawings, and filters to capture the viewer’s attention.
  • Team up with another author that your followers might enjoy and cross-promote each other’s snaps to grow both your audiences on the platform.
  • Share book coverage as snaps. If a blogger or journalist mentions your book, feature these snaps on your profile so that your audience can easily find the content.
  • Snap part of your new book trailer and direct readers to a website where they can view the entire video.
  • Ask your fans for pictures or videos of them reading your book, and send out snaps featuring them.


Contact your marketer if you have questions about Snapchat or ideas for a promotion on the platform.


Milena Schmidt is part of the Consumer Marketing Development and Operations Group.