SNAPCHETIQUETTE: A Lesson in Snap Manners

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Last Monday I shared the story of “How Snapchat Saved My Life” and touched on the subject of Snapchetiquette.  It is such a vast topic on its own that I decided to do a whole post on it. In fact, in that original post I had over 800 words just on this particular subject of manners on Snapchat. So I cut it, only leaving in a short synopsis. But rather than simply paste that written text here, I decided it should be a communal post anyway. Look, I am not the self appointed Miss Manners here.  I wanted people out there in Snap Land to feel free to give their opinions, comments, concerns and even questions about this somewhat hidden social media platform.

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Considering that Snapchat has such a great influence in people’s lives (remember, it saved mine) affecting their relationships, businesses and often their pocketbooks, how we behave within it deserves a closer look. What? How does Snapchat affect someone’s finances you ask?  Well, in a nutshell people are making money on here!  In fact, because it is one of the few social media avenues that is still relatively ad free, it is similar the the Wild West.  Within this uncharted territory often there ends up being a free for all. On top of that, it can be a bit of a challenge to navigate, and not only for non techy people like myself, but even for tech savvy people it isn’t the most user friendly. But that doesn’t mean it still can’t be people friendly!  That is where breaking it down and doing a little analysis can help. So I’m putting the manners under the microscope.

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I used the acronym for S.N.A.P. as a way to simplify it. While not necessary to do so, it can help to categorize the main points. However, this isn’t all encompassing and is an open topic just pulsating with “please lend me your ear.” and indeed your comment! This will be an ever evolving topic and because it is such a grey area, it can also be a hot potato issue.  But there are some basic aspects that we seem to agree on and here goes….

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#1 Shoutouts:

Shoutouts are a great way to share the love about another snapper. Whether you share with a video or photo snap (including the username of the person you are talking about), you are lending your support to someone. This seal of approval in turn helps your followers learn about new people.  For the person whom you are giving the shoutout, it helps them to gain new followers. How does it work?  Ideally it should be a three step communication interaction.

  1. Give    2. Receive  3. Appreciation

First, a snapper can GIVE a mention (shoutout) on their story that a certain person is worthy of a watch.  If inclined, those people who have seen the shoutout will RECEIVE the message and sign up for the person mentioned, which is the second part of the interaction . To note, there is unwritten decorum that the person giving the shoutout should not only send that snap to their story, but also to the person for whom they are giving the shoutout. Because what if someone gives a shoutout and suddenly the person is getting loads of new followers and has no idea where they came from? Then they have to go on their story and say, “who gave me the shout out” which is always a bit awkward. But they do it because the third aspect of this communication triangle is that the person receiving the shoutout should show APPRECIATION to the person who originally gave it. Because our parents raised us to always say thank you, right?  However, number 3 doesn’t always happen. And for various reasons.

One reason as I just said, is that maybe the person who got the mention hadn’t seen the story of the person who gave it (which is why sending your snap to them is important).  Another aspect that has cropped up is that some of the “Famous Snappers” (as they have been called) get so many shoutouts that they’d be spending all their days posting thank yous.  And another concern is authenticity.  Some “Famous Snappers” might be leary that a shoutout isn’t genuine, as if the person giving it knows that they will be getting a public thank you for many eyes to see.  If said “FS” are keeping their “image/brand” in tack not wanting to water it down with some small time snapper living in no man’s land, they might not acknowledge it at all.  Or perhaps they are worried that by publicly thanking someone, their followers will leave them and start watching someone else? Just because a public thank you is given isn’t a guarantee people will immediately go over and follow that person anyway.  So maybe for those people with concerns like these, possibly only a private message is sent.

Personally I think a thank you is always a good thing!  No matter what the circumstances!  As well, I think GIVING shoutouts is lovely too, though I know some snappers, for whatever reason, rarely do.  Then again MY purpose on here is to share the LOVE.  But I will only do it if it’s authentic.  On that note, I’d like to think that no one has said on their death bed “Geez I should have been more stingy with my love and gratitude!” P.S. Please don’t ask someone to give you a shoutout, as it is really bad form!

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#2 N-gaging:

AKA “Engaging”. Forgive me for taking creative liberties with this one, but for the sake of the acronym I needed an “N” so I surreptitiously dropped the “e” from the beginning of the word engaging!  LOL!  Nevertheless, there are certain aspects of Snapchat that you discover over time about how to engage with your “followers”.  I put that in quotation marks because while the people signed up to your account are technically called followers, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. Like I am the leader, which I am not.  Maybe I’m a tour guide.  But I liken this second point of S.N.A.P. (N-gaging) to a conversation, which is meant to be interactive.

And yet often it is a monologue where people just talk to their camera phone (i.e.: to the people of Snapland). Many like that kind of “fireside chat” aspect of Snapchat. You feel like you’re at the feet of a master while they wax eloquently about a certain subject. They might even sit in the same chair and wear a special cozy blanket to let you know, “hey it’s story time” and you feel instantly calmed and connected.  Since each video snap is a maximum of 10 seconds in length, many snaps may be necessary to tell a whole story.  But some feel that if a “story” is too long and static, they get bored and will skip through it. Others get irritated at the amount of time (which can be adjusted from 3-10 seconds ) a picture snap is up on screen. Too short and they haven’t had time to read any text you’ve put on it, and too long they will get antsy. As well, because stories are only available to view for 24 hours, there is a sense of urgency. Some live with constant stress thinking, “Oh my gosh I haven’t watched all my fav snappers yet today!” And as can happen, people might miss out on a really good story because of the time element.  My hubby says that he will email himself an article to read when he gets around to it (which might not happen at all) but with Snapchat, if you don’t go watch a story asap, it is gonzo!

I also think it is worth a mention to discuss “Screen shots” or “screen grabs” whereby a person can take a photo of your snap by pressing two specific buttons on their camera phone. Often snappers will tell you to do so if they are posting a recipe or a quote or something important. But it can be unnerving and upsetting to some if a screen shot is taken of their granny for instance. I suppose that if we post things on Snapchat we have to accept that they are now in the public domain so to speak. Unless we choose to have our accounts on private and only have friends and family follow, then it isn’t a concern. But for many public people such as well known snapper/bloggers, they obviously have to be open. Therefore some choose not to show their family or use emojies to hide their faces. Personally, I don’t post anything that I would have a problem with if people did do a screenshot. And to be honest, I actually do a lot of screenshots myself, not of people’s grannies, but of conversations.  I usually tell people why I am doing it. If they have given me info I need or if I don’t have time at that moment to read their message, I will screenshot to remind me to read later. With Snapchat, once you have opened a private snap message it disappears immediately. Unlike the 24 hours on the story, the messages are something like from the film Mission Impossible and self destruct in seconds!  Oh No! Panic, especially for people like me who are slow readers. So screen shot has become my best friend. And yet there is a weird phobia about it and when people screenshot my message or photos they are apologizing to me up, down and sideways. Honestly, sometimes people get so serious with social media. It is supposed to be fun guys!

Which leads me to another aspect of Snapchat. It is something snappers complain about, yet  it is a mistake that is easy enough to make. Sometimes people send you a snap which is obviously meant for their story. But for whatever reason, the family pic from their cousin’s daughter’s First Holy Communion ended up in your in box.  I will open it and usually respond. But I am social and enjoy the interaction.  I know when I first started Snapchat I hadn’t a clue how to work it and I’d send my snaps to everyone on my contact list NOT to my story which was what I was supposed to do. Sorry guys I didn’t know! And I’ve done it by mistake recently when I accidentally touched someone’s contact name while I was about to send a snap my story. Ooopsiees! I have sausage fingers even though I have mini hands.  But as I ended the last paragraph: “Honestly, sometimes people get so serious with social media. It is supposed to be fun guys!”

The last aspect of N-gaging is sending private messages. Some people (mostly high profile snappers) have their accounts blocked from anyone that isn’t approved. You can watch their story but can’t comment. But for the rest of us, we welcome comments from people watching. Personally I LOVE to eNgage with others. I remember at the beginning of my own snapchat journey six months ago, I would comment on people’s snaps and they would write back saying no one had done that before. But it is called SOCIAL MEDIA for a reason, and it isn’t like a television show to just watch passively (well maybe for some).  I believe it is an opportunity to eNgage on many levels.  However, for some, which is fine, they want to remain anonymous and are watching simply for entertainment purposes, not wanting to be “social” at all.  In fact these people often don’t even post any snaps themselves, they are just along for the ride.  While they might be name shamed as “Trolls” I think it is fine so long as they aren’t being inappropriate.

#3 Appropriateness:

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 I think it goes without saying that any images or video on Snapchat should be appropriate and decent. But for some, it is not. Many have been shocked to receive something that is x-rated. There is even a crass name for it, which I won’t repeat. Of course that person sending it  would hopefully get blocked and reported to Snapchat Headquarters.

Because there isn’t a “ratings” system like in the movies and television, people can say and do what they like without repercussions unless they are reported. And it can actually be entertaining for some to hear the use of crude language and wild behavior. Apparently, the “day after hangover” snaps from bed are pretty popular for some. Again, to each his/her own. Some don’t mind and others, well they can choose not to follow someone if they are offended by certain behavior, words or major bed head and pajamas. Personally, my language is clean. In fact, I have had numerous messages from people with children saying that they let their kids watch my snaps because I am “safe”. Hopefully that doesn’t mean boring! LOL! But I don’t act a certain way or avoid certain language just for Snapchat. I am that way in life. The cool thing about Snapchat is that it’s meant to be a real representation of a person. Warts and all. And that may mean a curse word here or there. No biggie. If you have a problem with it, don’t follow that person.  For some they aren’t bothered by curse words so much as upset by the use of inflammatory language about another person’s race, creed or gender which is just not considered acceptable. That goes without saying!

What is also concerning is the latest issue on Snapchat, that of mean spiritedness. This is nothing new to social media.  Many governments are instituting anti-bullying legislation for social media. But sometimes there can be an undercurrent of meanness that isn’t overt but people can still sense when someone is speaking about a topic and/or person, and everyone else knows who is the target of the negativity. For me, I haven’t experienced it, or witnessed it, but I have heard this issue addressed openly by some snappers. Bottom line, each person is responsible for their own content and no one else should tell them directly what they should or shouldn’t post.  As well, it isn’t nice to criticize someone else’s content on your own story as it’s perceived as being gossipy and passive aggressive. The best practice is to just not follow people that you don’t like. I tend to use my “Energy Vampire” gauge.  If I feel someone (whether on Snapchat or in real life) is an energy vampire and sucking the life out of me, I will disengage. By the same token, if someone is an “Energy Vision” and brings light and joy to my life, I will be enthralled and want to soak it all up!

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#4 Promoting:

Let’s face it, Snapchat is here to stay and is literally taking the social media world by storm. It has also become a place for companies to promote their products. I mean, it is understandable since there are now billions of Snapchat users.  A captive audience indeed! However, since there aren’t traditional ads and marketing in our faces, we might forget that we are still getting sold to, left and right.  Companies are targeting certain influential snappers, giving them free products, and often paying the person as well, to talk about the product on their snap stories.  It isn’t a problem as such.  However, while not all of them are doing it, the proper etiquette is for the snapper to disclose to their followers when they are promoting something.  It is an idea that is catching on in other places such as Instagram where users place a #sponsored in their comments section.  But because Snapchat doesn’t have a comments section (let alone a bio, or any sort of link to the user’s blog etc) we don’t know unless we are told.

The consensus among snappers who shared their thoughts with me about this topic is that there should be a watermark in the bottom of the snap. This will let us know, oh hey, this girl isn’t just using a self tanner to get ready for a holiday.  She is getting paid to use this. Then we have the knowledge about the intentions of the promotion. With today’s Apple Pay and fingerprint touch to purchase an item, we have become a bar code society.  However, what makes Snapchat so popular and accessible is the fact that it feels homey, familiar and relatable.  But rather than be duped thinking your “Snap Sista” is sharing her latest fab eye cream that now you must go and buy, because, I mean your family member wouldn’t be selling you out right?!  Well, it would be polite, proper snapchetiquette if she just let you know that “not only did I not buy this, but I am in fact getting paid to use it” then you have the TRANSPARENCY so vital to making informed decisions.  I am sure advertisers hate this notion.  But I’m not the only one who thinks information is key.  Otherwise we are like sheep blindly “following” while others unbeknownst to us are profiting off it.

Personally, one look at this blog and you can see I am not a professional blogger and do not get paid for anything I use on my Snapchat story or in real life.  I haven’t been given anything for free (apart from the stuffed #Snappy doll that Snapchat Headquarters gave me when I dropped in some custom made Snapchat donuts).  But if Mr. Kitchen Aid Mixer man walked up to my door and offered me a free mixer would I turn him away?  No!  And I have two Kitchen Aid mixers already.  One here with me in London and one back in the U.S.  What I would do first though, is invite him inside, serve him a delicious goody I made using my own Kitchen Aid mixer, and offer up the “promoted” mixer as a free give away on my Snapchat account,  But I would defo let all those watching know where it came from and let you all meet Mr. Kitchen Aid man as well!

In life, everyone has their own way of doing things, and Snapchat is no different. There are a plethora of beauty snappers out there, but rather than thinking the “market is saturated” I like to focus on the notion that they are all quite different because they have their own voice and their own personality that they bring to their snaps. The same goes with the foodie world which I am a part of, doing cooking tutorials and restaurant reviews and all.  My style is a bit wacky with my bad singing and dancing, and some folks might not care for it. But my main purpose of being on Snapchat is to spread some LOVE, and I know that for some, they don’t want to hear it or have to look at the heart shapes splashed all over my snaps. And I’m fine with that.  I won’t change who I am for anyone.  This is the way God made me.

It’s like going to a restaurant and ordering from a menu, some might be craving a burger and fries,  another might go for a roasted chicken dinner with all the trimmings and someone else might just get a light healthy salad.  It is all food, but at different times we might want a different flavor or style. But it is still important that the person delivering the meal is polite and offers good service.  At a restaurant the waiter/waitress in fact might get a gratuity or a kind word if you were happy and felt satisfied.  On Snapchat it is similar.  You are “served a meal” (a story) and you may be in the mood for some junk food, or something healthy and satisfying.  But you still would like it to arrive in a mannerly way, wouldn’t you?  Hence a little Snapchetiquette would go a long way in making this amazing social media experience, our little Snap Sista hood, a LOVING one!

With LOVE and THANKS!

YDP

P.S. I would like to thank all of the folks that kindly sent me snap messages commenting on this topic. It’s really nice to be part of a community that cares!  I am going to list their Snapchat user names below once I have their full approval (mine, by the way is: blissbakery).

 

One thought on “SNAPCHETIQUETTE: A Lesson in Snap Manners

  1. Absolutely fantastic article Karen !! So well written and eloquently put, just like the wonderful lady you are. You are a wonderful human being and you have just created another word for the Oxford English Dictionary to add SNAPCHETIQUETTE !! XX

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