Ah, Snapchat - the social messaging platform millennials love that has everyone else scratching their heads. Formerly a messaging platform for teens, the number of Snapchat daily users exceeded Twitter's just this June 2016, according to a survey by Bloomberg. Despite this, it's still in its infancy: Wouldn't you like a head start in building a following on the next big social media service where you can engage with and grow your fanbase?
Apart from connecting with followers through sending snaps to each other, you should also use it to promote yourself as a DJ: you can use it to share photos and videos of you DJing with your set-up, making mixtapes in your bedroom studio, or promoting your gigs, basically giving followers an authentic peek behind the curtains of the "reality show" that is your daily life.
Like other platforms, Snapchat is a way for you to show the world who you are both as a DJ and, more importantly, as a person. Unlike other platforms, the informal, raw, and ephemeral nature of snaps (they disappear after 24 hours) makes it feel like you're given permission to post things in your life that would appear mundane if posted on a more "permanent" platform like Instagram or Facebook.
The result is a Snapchat feed, called My Story, that gives potential fans a more intimate experience than other social media services because it can be truly authentic - it isn't overly polished like Instagram, not a lot of thought goes into a post as if it were a blog, and because snaps don't stick around forever, you don't always have to post something special 24/7 to have a decent feed. Of course, great value-adding content will always stand out, and you'll have a chance to get a feel for what your audience finds valuable later on when you've got used to the platform.
It's totally confusing though (the creators purposely made it non-user friendly), so how do you begin? Here are four ways to get started on Snapchat right now.
FOUR TIPS TO GET STARTED ON SNAPCHAT:
1. Get the app and watch this basics tutorial
Snapchat is a smartphone application for Android and iOS - don't expect a desktop or even a tablet counterpart anytime soon. Grab it on the App Store or Google Play (it's a free download), and create your account.
Once that's done, watch the tutorial below. It's around 10 minutes long, but worth it for first-timers. If you've already got Snapchat but you're still scratching your head (a common Snapchat user experience, I assure you), this is also a tutorial that'll explain the fundamentals really well -
2. Use my "SC Rule Of Three" to start simple and snap regularly
One of the biggest problems Snapchat users have is choosing what to snap. Are people interested in my DJ gear? Do people want to hear my opinion on the latest Kanye West video? Will people care about what I had for breakfast?
There isn't a definite answer to these because you still don't have an audience, but the way you grow an audience is to consistently put out content on Snapchat: it could be a short 15-second video tour of your bedroom studio, a photo of what headphones you use, or even just a selfie using a Snapchat Lens filter (Lenses distort your face and give it cartoon-like animations).
To consistently put out snaps to my feed, I follow what I call the "SC Rule Of Three": every day I snap at least three pieces of content, whether video or photo - one about work (writing news and reviews, behind the scenes for DDJT, opinion on gear), one about my personal life (food, watching movies, travel), and one about DJing (promoting my gigs and mixtapes/music, studio work, practice sessions). This mixes up my feed and allows me to come up with fresh content because my Snapchat basically touches all important aspects of daily living.
Your snaps don't have to be earth-shattering or value-adding at this point in time. Getting used to the interface and the nature of snaps are more important for DJs starting out on the platform, and you get to do that by snapping regularly. Posting consistently also shows your current and future followers that you're an active user, as opposed to someone who just signed up for the service and left out of frustration.
Snapchat is still pretty much the "wild west" when it comes to social media, so no one really knows exactly what the metrics are for content success apart from posting authentic snaps regularly that your followers can engage with. Authenticity is what gets you easy wins early on, and even later when you've grown a following.
3. Follow DJs and producers on Snapchat
Get some ideas on what to snap by checking out the feed of other DJs on the platform. Wildly-popular Snapchat user DJ Khaled is a big name in hip-hop, but it was only when he started actively using Snapchat that he grew into a massive, international brand, even landing on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek.
If you look at his feed, you'll just see him going about his day in a raw way: promoting his album or a sponsorship (work), enjoying a walk in his garden (personal), listening to music or snapping a gig (DJing), and so on.
Other DJs seem to follow the same formula, with a little bit extra: A-Trak's Snapchat account has hilarious comedy sketches (he has one about a juicer that he got today), and Dillon Francis doodles on his face once in a while. They're stuff you'd expect more from your college buddies goofing off than big-bucks DJs, and that's what makes Snapchat such an attractive platform for personalities.
Now almost all of us reading this article aren't celebrities, but again you don't have to be a celeb to push out content that's similar in nature with the Snapchat greats - just follow my SC Rule Of Three I outlined previously.
4. Engage with other DJs and fans by sending them snaps
You'll notice later on that some followers may be sending you private snaps. This is one of the key engagement features of Snapchat, because followers can send you either a written message, a photo, or even a short video.
Snapchat isn't a crowded space just yet, so it's easier to get the attention of an audience simply because there just aren't as much DJs on it at the moment compared to Twitter or Facebook. At the same time, it lets you reach out to other DJs and producers in a more personal way than, say a Facebook message or tweet.
You can set Snapchat to allow anyone to send you a private message or snap, and I encourage you to do so. I love getting snaps from DDJT readers, for example, which usually come in the form of short snap videos or messages. I reply to every one of them, and that's the beginning of true engagement with your audience because it's a back and forth between you and them, which makes it real (eg you're not just some bot) and personal. Reach out to the DJs that you follow, and interact with those that follow you as well.
So should DJs be on Snapchat? Yes: Love it or hate it, Snapchat is here to stay, and it's becoming huge. If your gig audience is between the ages of 18-40, there's a chance that a chunk of them are already on the platform with more on the way, and it presents an opportunity to connect with them in a uniquely personal way.
The most crucial element in Snapchat is authenticity, and that's why people love it. It's pretty easy to look like a mega-successful DJ on Instagram just by posting photos that you nicked from another DJ, or reposting festival pictures on Facebook or Twitter. That's harder to do in Snapchat because you're forced to make do with what you've got in front of you when you snap, lending to the authentic nature of posts.
Snapchat is both a direct messaging platform and a feed that encourages you to post your day-to-day, so it feels more real as opposed to the shiny, polished, and heavily-filtered content that gets pushed on other platforms. The way to get big wins at Snapchat is simply by being yourself - nothing more, nothing less.