Snapchat for Brands: How to Navigate the Interface

July 9, 2016

Have you learned how to use Snapchat for your brand? Don’t worry if you feel lost in the Snapchat interface; the network is often confusing for new users. I’ll walk you through each of the main Snapchat screens and the steps you can take in each to improve your brand profile.

How to use Snapchat’s interface:

The first step in learning how to use Snapchat is becoming familiar with the platform’s interface. Here’s a simplified map of the app’s navigation:

How to use Snapchat -- Map the app


1. From the camera screen, swipe down to your profile screen. Here you will see your “snapcode” — the QR code that looks like a yellow square with black dots around the shape of the Snapchat ghost. Below this you’ll see your username and Snapchat score, along with options for “Added Me,” “Add Friends,” and “My Friends.”

2. Click on your ghost and add a “selfie” of your brand logo. When you take the selfie, Snapchat will take five photos in quick succession. You can move the phone around to get different angles and make it seem like your logo is moving, or you can just keep the same angle for all five shots for a static image.

3. Tap on the gear in the upper right hand corner to go to “Settings.”

How to use Snapchat -- Profile screen

4. Scroll down and under “Who can…” tap on “Contact Me,” and set it to “Everyone.” Do the same for “View My Story.” Because this is for your brand, the more people who can see what you’re putting on Snapchat, the better!

5. Under “Manage,” make sure your filters are turned on.

6. Also under “Manage,” turn on “Travel Mode” to reduce Snapchat’s mobile data usage.

How to use Snapchat -- Settings


Tap on the back arrow in the upper left hand corner to get back to the profile pane.

1. In the center of the top of the page you will see a trophy symbol. Tap on the trophy.

2. Now you should be on a screen entitled, “Trophy Case.” This is where you can see which trophies you have earned on Snapchat (which is probably none yet, given that you just created your account). You can earn trophies for sending a certain number of snaps, completing different activities, and more.

How to use Snapchat -- Trophies

Added Me

1. On the profile screen, the “Added Me” section will eventually house a list of Snapchat accounts who have added you, but who you have not added back. You will know that someone new has added you when the white ghost on the home screen is highlighted in yellow. New friends will be highlighted in light purple at the top of your “Added Me” list, but only the people who are not also your “friends” will remain there.

2. People who you have already added as a friend will appear in the “Added Me” list along with all of your other new friends. They will have a purple check next to them and will disappear after that first notification.

How to use Snapchat -- Added Me

My Friends

1. In the profile pane, the “My Friends” section will list the accounts you have added as friends.

2. You can add people as friends in a few different ways. Tap on “Add Friends” to see the choices. You can search, use your address book, add by scanning someone’s snapcode, or use “Add Nearby” to find people who are located close to you. (This feature is particularly useful for conferences.)

How to use Snapchat -- My Friends


To find brands and influencers to add, check out the Snapchat discovery app Ghostcodes. You can also look at who you follow on Twitter to see if anyone relevant has a snapcode as their profile picture. Only add people once you’re ready to start snapping.

Snapchat Friend Emojis

Friend emojis are found by a friend’s username. Each emoji represents different aspects of your relationship with that friend. Friend emojis are private, and can only be seen by you. Use this guide to see how Snapchat explains friend emojis:

How to use Snapchat -- Friend Emojis


You can also customize your friend emojis by choosing a different emoji to symbolize each of the statuses listed to the right. Go to Settings, then “Manage,” and then “Friend Emojis.” Tap the friend emoji you would like to change and then select the emoji you would like to change it to.

Snapchat Stories

1. From the home screen, swipe to the left to get to the stories screen. Here you can see your story, along with the names of the Snapchatters who have viewed each snap, the number of views each story update received, and the number of screenshots taken of that story update. You can also see stories that Snapchat is covering under “Live,” and stories your friends have posted under “Recent Updates.”

2. To view a story, tap on that person’s name in the list and their story will start playing. If you want to skip an update, tap on the screen. If you want to skip that account’s story, swipe to the left and the next story will play. If you do nothing, all of the stories in your list will play in a row.

3. If you want to replay a friend’s story, you can do so for an unlimited number of times in the 24 hours after it was posted. Scroll down to the “All Stories” section after viewing the story once.

You may also have the option to swipe up in the middle of playing a story in order to chat with that person. This chat availability is based on the other person’s “Who can…” settings.

How to use Snapchat -- Snapchat Stories


Try to only use Snapchat when you have a WiFi connection, especially for watching stories and sending snaps. Snapchat uses a lot of data, so unless you have a significant amount left to burn on your mobile plan, be selective with using Snapchat outside of WiFi range.

Snapchat Discover

Swipe left twice from the homescreen to get to your Snapchat Discover screen, where select brands publish featured content directly to Snapchat audiences. Discover is different than the rest of Snapchat. On Discover, a select group of publishers, chosen by Snapchat, feature articles, videos, and other content for a limited amount of time to anyone who is on Snapchat.

How to use Snapchat -- Snapchat Discover

Chat Inbox

Swipe back to the home pane, then swipe to the left. This screen is your “chat” inbox, which shows: your friending activity; snaps and chats you have sent (with arrow icons) or received (with square icons); and snaps that have been replayed (with an icon of an arrow creating a circle).

How to use Snapchat -- Chat Inbox

Each activity is color-coded:

How to use Snapchat -- Message Symbol Meanings


To chat with a specific Snapchat account, select a username in your inbox and swipe to the left. Chat availability is based on the other account’s “Who can…” settings. You can chat with Snapchatters, send them photos, GIFs, video, and audio messages. Or, if you are both friends with each other, you can have a live video chat. Sent chat messages can be saved in the chat history log. Once you are in a chat conversation with someone, you can swipe to the right and a left-side bar will appear with their profile in it. It’s also important to note that once you start typing in chat, the other person will be notified.

How to use Snapchat -- Chat

Home and Camera

Swipe back to the home or camera pane. You’ll see several icons which represent different Snapchat functions.

1. Flash: In the upper left hand corner you can turn the flash on and off by tapping on the lightning icon.

2. Night Mode: The moon symbol represents Snapchat’s “night mode,” when the camera adjusts for low light.

3. Camera View: In the upper right hand corner, tap on the camera icon to switch the view from selfie to an external shot and back again. You can also do this during a video.

4. Story Notifications: In the lower right hand corner, tap on the three dots to go to the stories screen. If the three dots are highlighted in purple, that means your friends have posted new stories.

5. Chat Inbox Notifications: In the lower left hand corner, tap on the speech bubble symbol to go to the chat inbox. If it’s highlighted in blue, that means you have received something new.

6. Point-and-Shoot: Tap on the circle in the bottom-center of the screen to take a photo, and hold down to take a video up to 10 seconds long.

How to use Snapchat -- Home and Camera

Want to learn more about how to use Snapchat for brands? Download The Snapchat Marketing Guide for Brands now!

Download The Snapchat Marketing Guide for Brands!

Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community