Snapchat is no longer just an app for teenagers. Look carefully and you’ll find entrepreneurs, founders, and even developers, all happy to share their knowledge with others.
In the past few years I’ve learned many lessons as a co-founder of a rapidly growing company. I love to share those stories, but the old social networks like Facebook and Twitter never resonated with me.
Snapchat is different. Recording a short, unprepared video of a stream of my thoughts is exactly what I like. It’s easy to simply think about the topic and share my opinion. I’ve been doing it regularly for the past few months. Hundreds of people seem to enjoy what I share.
Most Snapchat users record short videos from their lives. While 10 seconds is enough to show what you just ate, it’s not enough to explain how the Profit and Loss report works. That’s where Snapstorms come to help.
What is a Snapstorm? ⚡️
It’s a collection of many short videos tied together to form a longer narrative. There’s usually one main topic of a Snapstorm, with each short video describing a specific component of the argument.
Most Snapstorms last from one to three minutes, but it’s not unusual to have a 10 minute long Snapstorm consisting of hundreds of short videos.
Recording a Snapstorm is fairly easy. Basically, you just say what you want to say in short chunks. Over time, though, I have learned a few ways that you can make a Snapstorm way more interesting. Here are my rules for making a good Snapstorm.
Have a structure 🏢
Split your narrative into logical sections. Don’t handle two thoughts in the same clip. It’s way better to have two separate videos, one for each thought.
You can record multiple videos for each section. Just make sure you always start and finish one sentence in the same record.
Adding a caption at the beginning of each section is another good idea. Firstly, it shows people when a new section starts and the previous one ends. Secondly, it gives people hints about what you plan to say. This gives them a chance to skip it if they don’t find the topic interesting.
For longer Snapstorms, share your plan and structure at the beginning. Let people understand what kind of things you’re going to cover and how. Sometimes people show the agenda written on a piece of paper. I personally like to say what sections people may expect in the next minutes. Then I go through all of them one by one.
Change your background 🏙
When you record a lot of videos, make sure that the background is the same throughout the whole Snapstorm. By changing an environment you show people that you have started talking about something new.
Many Snapchat users skip videos after milliseconds when they see something not interesting to them. They look at a first frame of a new video and quickly (unconsciously) decide if it’s still something boring or it’s something new. Changing the background is the only way to quickly give them a hint — Hey, there’s something new here!
Give your audience a chance to come back to your ideas. Snapchat does allow users to download your clips, but it’s not a pleasant experience. You would need to have amazing content to convince someone to go through this manual process of saving each clip. Even then, they will probably encounter too much hassle and give up.
I like to prepare an easy to read summary: one screen with the key points listed. You can write it on paper, or just use the in-app text engine. People can then make a quick screenshot if they find it interesting. This experience is an order of magnitude better than saving all the clips separately.
Oh, and remember to mention you’ll have a summary before posting it. Just say “Take a screenshot of the next snap to save the quick summary.”
While many people use Snapchat every day, they don’t necessary watch everything on their feed. Once you follow hundreds of people you probably open the app a few times a day and just watch a snap or two. The short lifecycle of your Snapstorm doesn’t help – they’re gone after 24 hours.
You can use other social media to promote your upcoming story. Let people know in advance that you plan to discuss a given topic, giving them a heads up about your plans.
Let me give you an example. After my first excitement with Snapchat I recorded my whole day as a COO of Pilot. A day before, we tweeted about my plans. We also posted information about it in Facebook groups for startups and founders. The next day I had more than 100 new followers watching my story.
Make watchable videos 📺
Your Snapchat doesn’t have to be perfect. Imperfection is kind of expected, as it seems more real. With this in mind, you can still follow a few tips to make your videos look better.
Have good lighting, so people can see you. Use the front camera flashlight if you don’t have good conditions.
Use headphones when you’re outside, to eliminate 90% of background noise. There’s no point in recording something if people can’t hear you. Speaking of audio — remember not to cover your microphone when you record a clip without headphones. I did it too many times.
Look at the camera or at least your screen. You’re talking to other people; keep eye contact with them. Hold your phone at head level when you talk – holding it lower makes you look bossy, while holding it higher makes you look small.
Don’t do too many retakes. I always try to do no retakes at all. Small mistakes and misspellings make your snap more natural. Of course, sometimes your mistake is huge and people will not understand you, or you may realize that something didn’t make sense at all. Then remove your snap and just record it again.
Don’t do more than one Snapstorm a day – give everyone a break from you. You don’t have to share all of your knowledge in one day.
Follow me 👣
Snapstorms are an amazing way to learn new things. It feels like a friend describing how things work. I personally prefer them over articles or long lectures and find they make it easier for me to understand topics.
My favorite Snapchatters in recent months are @msuster, @michaelmeiernyc, @brianpark, @justinkan and @alexisohanian. Follow all of them to learn a little bit more about tech, startups, VCs, and real estate. If you’d like to hear about how we run Pilot, follow me at @kolarzowski. I try to explain technical details of management and running a business.