As twenty-somethings, we likely use Snapchat on a regular basis or have a friend who does. Developed by former Stanford University students Evan Spiegel and Jonathan May in 2011, Snapchat has become a major force in the social media world.

Three years after its creation, Snapchat is a multi-billion dollar company with millions of users. Although a money-making powerhouse, the gist of Snapchat is simple. With Snapchat, users can send photos and videos called “Snaps” to friends for 1 to 10 seconds. The Snaps then will disappear and the recipient can send photos or videos back.

When Snapchat first premiered, it appealed to users for its fleeting photos. It removed the responsibility and permanence of photos, like we see on Facebook and Instagram. Snapchat’s photos only lasted a number of seconds and users could come away with a clean slate. 

Users, many of them twenty-somethings, then began relying on Snapchat for entertainment, humor, and short-conversations. Users began sending pictures of themselves in class, with friends or at home along with brief captions. Snapchats even helped usher in the rise of the selfie, aka a picture of oneself taken by oneself.

Although a popular app, Snapchat comes with its own setbacks. Since nothing is permanent on Snapchat, it’s difficult to hold meaningful conversations through it. Snapchat also revealed that it doesn’t always delete our Snaps, meaning that our temporary photos and videos could be in the hands of strangers.

In terms of professional development, Snapchat doesn’t offer many options. Snapchat may work well for specific brands or companies, but it shouldn’t be used for individual career growth. Instead it should just be a fun means of escape for twenty-somethings. Since Snapchat is more free-spirited than other social networking sites, users can follow these basic tips to enjoy the app.

1. Send Snaps to the people you know well. Don’t send Snaps to co-workers you just met! People can turn to Snapchat when tipsy at bars. Make sure you’re comfortable with the people on your contacts list before anything embarrassing happens. Users can still screenshot photos, meaning your photo doesn’t always disappear after 10 seconds. 

2. Censor what photos you send. Snapchat has revealed that it doesn’t always delete the photos you send to others. Never send compromising photos you wouldn’t share in a public forum yourself, especially since you don’t know where they’ll end up.

3. As a courtesy, don’t take a screenshot of others’ pictures. Users will begin doing it to you too. In a matter of time, Snapchat karma will catch up with you.

4. Create a unique Snapchat Story. Stories allow you to add a series of photos, much like a slideshow, together for 24 hours. Set yourself apart by showing glimpses of your everyday adventures.

GenSocial is GenTwenty’s Social Media Column by Molly Berg. She answers your burning questions on how to use social media to your professional advantage.

READ MORE  Why You Should Think Twice About Which Opinions You Put on Social Media