We’re all guilty of it: the meandering, incoherent, maybe-were-actually-drunk-but-definitely-acting-like-it-because-this-makes-no-sense Snapstory. We figure: who wouldn’t want to see this Odesza concert, or an extra on-point alphet, or some other tomfoolery? Answer: everybody. Your “Snapstory” was actual drivel, I probably didn’t watch it, and even if I did, I clicked through that shit real quick (sidenote: THANK YOU SNAPCHAT FOR THIS FEATURE). Most of us—myself included—too often ignore the “story” part in “Snapstory” in favor of hyperfocusing on the “snap” part. Snapchat, for better or for worse, has become our generation’s solution to the age-old storytelling quandary of “I guess you had to be there.” Snapchat means you really can be there haggardly chugging that mimosa at Sunday brunch with your best friend, if only digitally. We assume: I find this cool enough to Snapstory so you should find it cool enough to watch.
We are naïve to assume this. Your life, by all accounts, is probably extremely mundane. Unless you are drinking that mimosa out of a diamond-encrusted flute with a side of caviar on a yacht in the Maldives or you literally are Odesza at that concert, probably no one cares about your Snapstory. Snapstories are hard, guys, because stories are hard. Telling a good story beginning to end—I’m talking plot, character development, climax/denouement, the works—is no easy feat. Equal parts spontaneity and forethought, a good Snapstory is, above all other things, an entertaining yarn you weave for your viewers.
In light of these crushing challenges we must bravely face when attempting to construct a fire Snapstory, I asked Mitch Kessler—whose Snapstories are nothing short of legendary and feature wonders like naked bongo drumming, his oddly extensive menagerie of reptiles, a superfluity of hardboiled eggs, and various hot girls sculpting his mun into being—to educate us Snapstory peasants on how to tell the perfect Snapstory. (In case you’re all, “who is this Mitch kid and why should I be trusting him with this most personal of endeavors,” here’s why: Mitchellias regularly posts 60+ second Snapstories and, without fail, has an almost 100% retention rate of 180+ viewers from first to last snap. For a pretty normal dude living in Tucson, AZ who is neither a celebrity nor blogger, this is a very legitimate boast.)
Revolve Your Snapstory Around Your Life, Not Your Life Around Your Snapstory
Another way of thinking about this is if you’re making a Snapstory for yourself, you’re not doing it right. As twentysomethings, we all do pretty much the same shit everyday—Internetting, drinking, flailing around in the dating pool, working, sleeping, Netflix—so the only really new thing you bring to the table is literally yourself. Your perspective on life is completely unique, so use that to your advantage. Mitch almost exclusively snaps himself in the first person (camera front-facing with him talking/reacting/monologuing; this is opposed to third person, where the camera faces out and you’re narrating). As a result, you kinda feel like a GoPro barnacled on his body. You see him reacting to and living in the world through his voice, his actions, his POV, his movements, and his body* (sometimes more of it than I’m prepared to see). Use yourself as a tool to create and drive the story; be the protagonist in your own narrative.
Be Consistent and Weird
“You have to build trust with the viewers,” Mitch says, sounding more like a director than he probably intends to. Try not to be one of those people who never posts a Snapstory except for the once-a-month 150 second blitz of drunken antics and disparate, blurry still-lifes. You are producing content for a viewing audience, so be as consistent and notable as possible in the quality, quantity, and frequency of your product. Whether you want it or not, you are your own brand on social media, so your Snapstory should reflect that and be on-message. Much like Andy did with Drake lyrics, Mitch has recurring people (characters), items (tropes/devices), events (settings/themes), activities (plot), and memes (he may or may not have coined #munlife and #turntblessed). These uniformities create narrative* continuity* in your Snapchat and scaffold whatever kind of image/brand you may be trying to push out in these streets.
Don’t Sacrifice Context for Content
Yes, you’re producing content on the fly with Snapstories, but don’t get too caught up in that (see: aforementioned 150 second drunken barrage example) and ignore the context of that content. Meaning: what’s the story behind that errant condom wrapper you found outside your house? I mean, littering is bad and I’m sorry you had to see that, but I have no context for this random act of birth control. This is where the first person technique comes into play: Snapstory your reaction to the weird condom wrapper on your sidewalk instead of the actual weird condom wrapper on your sidewalk. Snapstories necessitate that you create and edit concurrently, so maybe don’t do them if multitasking isn’t your thing.
Know and Respond to Your Audience
Post things to your Snapstory that are unique to you, relevant to your followers, and suitable for the medium, and then carefully watch how your viewers respond. The attrition/retention rate, or as Mitch calls it, “the drop-off rate,” is this metric for quality. This is how you know you’re pushing entertaining content. If that number—be it Mitch’s absurd 180 or my negligible 20—stays consistent from the first snap of your story to the last, then you know you’ve done well. After all, there’s no built-in like/heart/favorite button on Snapchat, so you have to track your impact somehow, right? Unless you have an actual life I guess.
It’s hard enough to tell a good story IRL. Our attention wanders so easily and we lose the plot so quickly and the raconteur isn’t engaging enough and oh I haven’t checked my Instagram feed in a while, I should do that. This is the same chain of reactions you’ll get if your Snapstory is lacking. So practice at it, y’all. Let’s get weird with this together. Tell me a Snapstory, take my breath away.