Let’s be honest: DC has needed to embrace Snapchat for a while now. (We’re looking at you, Anthony Weiner.) Not only will it let you sext your intern without getting caught,* but you can now make your boss look like one of the cool kids.
Not surprisingly, Rand Paul (SenatorRandPaul) was ahead of the curve on this as one of DC’s early adopters and Sen. Marco Rubio (MarcoRubio2016) and Gov. Rick Perry (GovernorPerry) have jumped on the bandwagon as well. We’re sure the other 42 GOP contenders are soon to follow suit.
(BTW, Carly Fiorina: where are you on this? As the only candidate with a background in tech and friends in Silicon Valley, we expect you to crush the digital game.)
Yesterday’s Jeb! announcement was curated on Snapchat (and by Snapchat, in cooperation with the Jeb! campaign) using pretty cool “geo-fencing” technology which allowed them to pull content from users on the Miami Dade College campus for a real-time live feed.
Jeb! even had his own Snapchat filter. (Not to be confused with the filters on Instagram, Snapchat’s filters are more likely to be used to convey additional information like the weather, provided by The Weather Channel, or your whereabouts, using Geofilters like “Capitol Hill”, or, in this case, your excitement that Jeb! was getting in the race.)
The Jeb! announcement featured highlights including Barbara Bush being adorable and an experience so real you can practically smell the arroz con pollo.
But for those of us without our own 24/7 digital team, how do you actually use it? What’s so awesome about it? And why on earth do we need to connect on yet another social network? Thankfully, FDC is here to explain…
(*FDC makes no guarantees and will not be held liable for the fallout.)
Step 1: Download the app.
Step 2: Import your Rolodex.
This is a significant improvement over the first generation Snapchat, which forced you to manually search for your friends. As long as you allow it permission to access your contacts, it will now do the work of finding out which of your besties are already on the Snapchat network for you.
Step 3: Follow FamousDC.
Username: TheFamousDC, or open Snapchat and point your camera at the ghost below.
Step 4: Start Snapping.
We recommend your first snap be something innocuous like your lunch or reading material on the Metro, in case you inadvertently tweet it by mistake. (No bueno if it’s a bathroom selfie.) That would also mean you’re in the wrong app entirely, so make sure you see the little white ghost.
Photos and videos (of up to 10 seconds) must be taken inside the Snapchat app, just like Instagram, as opposed to being pulled from your camera roll, which is why the camera view is the home screen. Hold down the big round camera button at the bottom center of the screen to capture photo or video.
So go ahead, snap something and send it to TheFamousDC.
Step 5: Edit your photo.
You can use the little pencil at the top right corner to draw on your photo or write a message to your intended recipient. (For example, I heart FDC.) You can also apply a filter, giving your location, the weather, etc. This would be the part of Snapchat that makes us feel like teenage girls, but whatever floats your boat.
Step 6: Get your first Snapback.
A snapback is, well, when somebody answers your snap with a snap. If someone sends you a snap, you see a notification in the bottom left hand corner with the number of unread snaps you have to view. If you get into a good volley of snaps back and forth, that is apparently called a “Snapstreak.”
To view a snap, you must hold down the screen. This takes some getting used to, but is an added privacy bonus, since it’s virtually impossible to do that and take a screen shot simultaneously.
Step 7: Tell your story.
A Snapchat story is content you can share with all of your Snapchat followers and are made available for 24 hours and can be viewed repeatedly in that timeframe. Much like Facebook, it’s a one-directional content delivery mechanism. For example, when Rick Perry got into the race, he released a 5-second video story filmed backstage. The downside for brands and political candidates is that your reach is only as large as your audience.
When you follow FamousDC (TheFamousDC) on snapchat, you’ll be able to view our first story posted yesterday with a theme you’ll surely see with us again. Our story featured, #AskAPanda, in which innocent citizens roaming the Capitol grounds ask a Panda a pressing question to which the Panda replies on a white board.
Step 8: Discover fun content.
Snapchat’s new “Discover” feature is the way that content can go viral, which is to say you can send it to a friend, as opposed to most of its other content that is unshareable.
Right now, the Discover section is limited to 12 channels of editorial content from traditional media sources like CNN, ESPN, and People with some curveballs like Vice, Cosmopolitan, and Snapchat’s own channel with original programming.
All of this content disappears within 24 hours, which begs the question how much time, energy, effort, and money campaigns will be willing to spend… but given that Snapchat has basically cornered the market on the most coveted political demographic, we’re betting it will be substantial.
So, in conclusion, what’s the appeal? Well, it’s grainy, it’s handheld, and therefore, it somehow feels more intimate and personal. I feel like I’m actually backstage with Rick Perry. Or I’m actually sitting next to Barbara Bush. It’s like the difference between a hot amateur sex tape and porn that’s been over-produced in Hollywood.
And why does any of this matter? To your boss, it’s a great way to reach out to the coveted younger voter demographic. And to the rest of us, its appeal is still in the ephemeral nature of the content.
Like a great concert, party, or one-night stand, all you’re left with when it’s over is the emotional experience of how it made you feel… which can often be better than the real thing.
See you on Snapchat.