Snapchat is yet another social media tool that has taken the Net by storm, first by teens who have loved the photo sharing capabilities (which can be viewed for only 10 seconds) and the similarly short videos that can be recorded and sent as a private message or shared with friends and the public as “My Story.”
Now I hardly fit anywhere even remotely near the demographic that has been driving Snapchat for the past year or so.
But I'm a user now.
And if I'm right, you may be, too, some day soon.
It's now being heavily marketed to groups well beyond the teen years. And one group I think may find the platform worth knowing and using is my constituency: The RV community.
It's a great way to easily create and share video diaries of our travels.
Like Twitter and Facebook and other social media platforms, people choose to follow you and you can follow them back. You can text them, send them little audio files or send a photo that can be stylized with text and different filters, or effects. That part of Snapchat isn't of particular interest to me. For one thing, they disappear after 10 seconds or so. Why? Well, early on, and, truthfully, probably still a lot today, the kids were using it for “sexting,” sending short and revealing photos and videos that were meant to only be seen privately for a very short time.
But the part of Snapchat that I think RVers will appreciate is the ability to create those little 10-second videos and string them together into ongoing video diaries of our travel.
Here, let me give you an example by sharing one I made yesterday of our new dog, Bo, and how, as a puppy, I'm trying the get him acclimated to traveling in our RV. The video is shot portrait style, with a vertical orientation. Most of us are used to landscape sized videos, or the 16:9 ratio we get on computers and TV. Snapchat really wants the vertical orientation to be the default as that is the way most people hold their mobile devices. So it's the easiest way to shoot.
But you can hold your device sideways and shoot video in the landscape mode, though it is much more cumbersome to do so. You need to put your thumb or a finger on a small little on-screen circle and keep it pushed to record video. A single push takes a still photo. Especially on the larger mobile phones, it's just much more awkward holding it that way rather than than straight up and down.
Here's how it landscape looks. Much better, don't you think?
When done recording a video, it immediately plays back, continuously looping unless you push a little X up on the top left of the screen to delete or another control on the bottom that either saves it to your mobile device photo gallery or adds it to your My Story for that day. You can delete any photo or video and start over and keep doing it until you are happy.
So how would RVers use Snapchat? I think using Snapchat's “My Story” video compilation feature is the way. That's what I did in the video about Bo. I shot a whole series of videos – 18 of them in all – each one just 10 seconds long. As I finished each one, I sent it to “My Story” where they can be played as one continuous video in the sequential order in which I shot them.
My Story compilations disappear form Snapchat after 24 hours. That's because they are meant to be seen by other Snapchat users, watching on their smartphones. They are aimed at being immediate, a record of what's happening today.
You can, though, preserve those stories by saving them to your device, where, as noted above, it goes to your photo gallery. I did that with the Bo story, then sending it from my iPhone's gallery to my You Tube account, where I can keep it forever and share it with whoever I want, even embedding it into my web page, as done here.
RVers can use the app to record video entries of their travels. Maybe one clip is shot as you are starting out in the morning, another one could highlight a hike you took, another a beautiful vista or sunset. Your friends and family would see them on their smartphones, if they have followed you as a friend. You can limit those who see you to friends or everyone, which I have done.
You can add friends to follow by manually entering their name or by opening the Snapchat app up and focusing the camera on the little yellow box the the ghost shape.My snapchat name is roadtrekingmike. If you have the Snapchat app, focus the camera on that little yellow box and push the screen. It will immediately add me as your friend.
Snapchat is far from being intuitive. The learning curve is pretty steep. It took me several hours of experimenting to figure out how it works. The instructions are pretty skimpy.
But, the app does work. Amazingly well. And it looks like it is going to become much more popular with older users.
For me, Snapchat is just one more tool I can use to tell stories about the RV life.
If you decide to try it, let me know so I can follow you.
And be sure to tell your kids and grandkids that you are a Snapchat user.
It will drive them nuts.