First of all, let me say that yes, I’ve heard that Instagram has similar Snapchat functions and no, I don’t see that I’ve wasted my time on Snapchat at all. If anything, it’s made me appreciate the subtle differences between platforms and I’m now more aware of how to use the tools for the right purpose and networks – and audiences.
If you’re using tools to tap into a network of people you want to learn from and connect with, you go to where they happen to be hanging out and what’s right for your own personal learning purposes. (I also know most of my Personal Learning Network are not sharing work-related material on Instagram – and only some on Facebook – and very few are sharing any video (or photo stories) at all on Facebook Live, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope or even, Twitter video so for now, I’ll stick with Snapchat). Thought I’d get that out of the way because the Instagram and Snapchat discussion is going a bit crazy online…
By now many people know by now of my experiments with this platform and figuring out ways to use Snapchat in business for the purpose of people connecting, learning, and networking with each other and with their customers.
One thing I’ve noticed is that at times, it gets difficult to make the distinction between what is learning and what is marketing in social networks. Often these are being blurred. Certainly, many focus only on the marketing aspect and not on the communication, connection, community, collaboration and conversation that comes with building a personal learning environment. After all, personal learning for the sake of personal learning is not front of mind for many people. It’s more about how they will achieve an outcome such as starting a new business, finding new business or achieve a personal goal.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t been tweeting as much as I have done in the past, it’s because I’ve been conversing with people around the world and using the left side of the app. (For those who know, the left side is where all the one-to-one conversation is happening).
It’s been wonderful meeting people from all sorts of professions who like me, similar to my own age in their 40-60s, are trying out this platform for their own business or education. They’re people I would have otherwise not met in person because they’re simply not in my direct network of peers or professions my famil and friends are in.
Lawyers, teachers, librarians, doctors, dentists, salespeople, accountants, microbiologists, real estate agents, psychologists, marketers, students, writers, movie producers, you name it – they’re all getting in on it and trying to figure out how they use the platform to share and show their work (and their life).
There’s no template for what they do. No best practice. No formula. They just share their work and life – and have a bit of fun on it too.
I Don’t Care to Watch People Share What they’re Eating or What They’re Doing
Yes, that’s true for any social media. You can’t control what others will share on Snapchat and everyone is different. Some people prefer not to share work related content because they have other channels to do this such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Meanwhile, others use it to only share their work and relatively little of their personal day-to-day life.
Ultimately, you’re in control in Snapchat. You will need to curate and select your own channels and decide what works best for you. This takes time.
Personally, I want a bit of both. If I’m watching someone share great tips on how to calculate your daily consulting rate in a few snaps while he’s walking his dog, that’s okay because it’s ‘real life’. You know that he hasn’t constructed the video and edited it to perfection to create a pre-produced video with a formal tone or message.
The key is taking away a tid bit of information from the snaps that will help you in your own problem. It’s exactly like having a conversation with someone and they mention something that makes a connection, an ‘a ha’ moment for you in your mind.
However, if this is not for you, there are organisations on Snapchat who share and show their workplace too and these are intriguing to watch. Museums, Libraries, Galleries, Schools, Academic Institutions and Businesses – it’s a great (and instant) way to directly contact these organisations (assuming they have the ‘Chat’ feature on which allows the public to connect with them).
Usually run by a millennial, these business snapchat stories take a behind the scenes views, tours and interviews of their organisation. We watch people at Leadership Development Conferences, we observe them at their workplace, we watch them use the tools and technology in the office, we hear what people do in their jobs. We see areas of the organisation, laboratories, spaces, offices and rooms that the public would otherwise not normally see.
In this way, organisations are using their own interns and graduates to reach out to their fellow millennial audience, not only showcasing their work but using it as a potential recruitment channel.
Watching these snaps you get some sense of how organisations work behind the scenes and what kind of training and development they do for staff. However, the real power for me is being able to instantly chat with people and offer a comment. This is where I have been spending more time – in the ENGAGEMENT.
I like interacting with the people who are sharing these snaps and asking questions. How did they run that workshop? Is the presenter on Snapchat or Twitter? What piece of equipment did they use to do XYZ they just demonstrated? How did they create that snap? Are they on Twitter?
The real power of this platform is the personal one-to-one immediate connection using audio or video or text as well as the immediate creation tool – for example, it was specifically designed to CREATE ‘imperfect’ stories – and not consume ‘well designed and crafted’ photos like Instagram – as the app opens up immediately to the camera and not a feed).
As with any curation process, it’s not instant. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
I am happy that I have spent the time to selectively curate and connect with the people who are behind the channels I follow. I don’t follow everyone who follows me and I am ruthless in unfollowing them if they share snaps that are not relevant to my own personal learning needs.
So the ultimate result is that I have a Snapchat feed of channels that educate, inform and inspire me AND with people whom I’ve directly connected with.
Some Organisations To Follow on Snapchat
Here are some organisations for you to follow, watch and connect with as well as watch milennials at work.
We Are Cisco
We Are Cisco consistently provides excellent content on what is happening inside their organisation. Employees take over the Snapchat account and interview each other and what they’re doing. Watching them work, we see how they’re using the various Cisco products to communicate to each other inside and outside the office.
The NASA Snapchat account provides tours in the various space laboratories, departments, and interviews with scientists and astronauts. This year they even had a live story, “A Day in Space” from the International Space Station. Currently they’re running an application for an Asteroid Sample Return Mission.
Tech Insider is a great Snapchat channel to follow especially when there’s technology or tech related events happening overseas as you get to see some things behind the scenes that you wouldn’t see otherwise on the Twitter backchannel.
Although they don’t post snaps often, when they do, expect to see how Google staff work in their own environment.
Similar to We Are Cisco, interns at GE show various elements of what it is like to work there. At the moment, they have a team of scientists and astronauts going on an expedition to Nicaragua taking lava readings to predict when the volcano is going to erupt. It’s fascinating to watch and learn from these people and the type of environment they have to work in.
This social media site has its own Snapchat account and they use it creatively to engage with their viewers such as competitions.
The New York Hall of Science also shares various snaps on the activities and events happening in New York around science. Although they don’t publish as often as others, their snaps give you a peek into what’s happening in the vicinity.
Interesting Engineering shares snaps related to technology, drones, engineering, and science.
The Society of Women Engineers shares their stories such as interviews, conferences and events from around the world and they advocate and support more women into the field of engineering.
Mayors Office Toronto
I enjoy this snap channel that follows the Mayor of Toronto around the various community events in the city. There’s also behind the scenes tour of their council offices. I seem to know more of what’s happening in Toronto than my local council.
On their website, the White House says, “our digital strategy centers around meeting people where they are. This decentralized approach, in response to the proliferation of social media, aims to provide the American people with a multitude of ways to engage with their government.” Watching their snaps gives us a glimpse of the people who work there, what they do as well as some shots of their president playing basketball.
So what’s next? I will continue to curate my Snapchat channels over time as I’d like to include more libraries and museums especially in France and Germany which is where I will be travelling at the end of the year.
I have also started to follow snappers who don’t come from an English speaking background which presents also a glimpse into different cultures, traditions, festivals and foods which I believe will provide me with another perspective and contacts in countries I don’t usually correspond with.
Do you know of any other organisations snapchatting? Please share!