10 reasons why you should use Snapchat to share research ideas (and 4 reasons not to)
- It’s exhilarating to try new things. You’ll learn to think with a new tool, and that helps you think fresh.
- It’s ephemeral. Your story only stays up for 24 hours, so you don’t have to worry too much about what you post. It’ll be gone tomorrow anyway. (You can download your stories if you like, and repost them to a blog or YouTube or Facebook, but you don’t have to.)
- It’s visual and concrete. Walking through the world as you think about how to explain your ideas, you’ll stumble across examples that will help push your thinking.
- There are no likes or shares, so you can’t worry about getting them. This is surprisingly odd, and anxiety-causing, and liberating, which I think is healthy stuff to experience. On the other hand, you get very detailed information about exactly who watched which part of your story. But most of your viewers will have weird usernames you won’t be able to connect to a real person anyway.
- You can’t edit it, so you can’t spend too much time fussing over it. All you can do is record a snap (either a ten-second-or-less video or a still image) you can add text and doodles and emoji, and then you can either post it or not. Then you do the next one. You can delete an individual snap in your story, but you can’t change a snap you already posted, or insert something you forgot. It turns out this gives you an immense freedom. When I’ve tried to make videos before, I’ve always tried to do it so well, and I’ve spent so long editing and never been happy with the result so havent finished them.
- Each video snap can only be ten seconds long. That means you get a lot of practice explaining your ideas in clear, simple terms. When you record a ten second video, it is instantly played back to you, and you can either redo it or post it to your story. Hearing your own words, instantly, is an amazing tool for editing speech, because you’ll immediately hear what sounds unclear or where you um and ah too much. This is great practice for giving a talk or answering a question succinctly or giving a journalist soundbites.
- It doesn’t take longer to create a Snapchat story than to write a blog post. Most of my stories have taken me 45–90 minutes to make. I spend at least that long on a blog post, and often end up saving it as a draft and then never finishing it. You can’t do that with a Snapchat story. Either you post it or you don’t.
- If you feel uncomfortable you can just use a silly selfie lens. It’s impossible to worry too much if you use a silly selfie lens.
- If you’re still uncomfortable you can try walking while talking. People do that a lot on Snapchat and it really does take your mind off the fact that you’re talking to a screen. Or doodle and add emojis. Snapchat is fun. And silly. And makes users happier than any other social media platform.
- After all that, you might actually get used to seeing yourself on video. I remember when I worked in the Student Radio, many years ago, there was a point where I finally got used to hearing my own voice on tape and didn’t find it alien anymore. To my surprise, I’m almost there with video, after just a few weeks of Snapchatting. I actually never thought I would feel this relaxed about seeing video of my wrinkly face, which I sometimes think looks pretty and sometimes think looks awful but have rarely been able to just let be what it is. I’m surprised that it’s happened this fast. And I think it’s immensely liberating. Oh, I still think I look weird?—?but I spend way less time worrying about it than I did when I started Snapchatting, just a few weeks ago.
What’s not so good?
- You’ll not get a lot of feedback, although a few people might snap you. I’ve received more feedback when I post a Snapchat story to Facebook than I have on Snapchat itself.
- You won’t really know who is watching. I’m not sure whether I should be imagining myself speaking to teens, fellow academics, social media experts or random friends on my contact list. Although Snapchat is very heavily a youth space, I doubt I really have that many 13–24 year olds watching my stories.
- You can’t cut and paste a Snapchat story and use it in a publication, they way you can sometimes do with a blog post. But you can reuse the ideas in the same way as you might a blog post.
- I can’t think of anything else bad. I suppose I could have spent those 45–90 minutes a day writing papers. But I probably wouldn’t. And since I snap chatted instead, now I have all these great ideas!
I’m jilltxt on Snapchat, and of course I’ll be snapping this.