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Managing Mental Health During Quarantine

Mental health is so important, and it is a topic that never seems to be talked about enough these days. According to Mentalhealth.gov, mental health is out emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It controls how we  It think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health effects us all not matter gender, age, or ethnicity. During stressful times such as during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it is extra important that we remember to take care of ourselves mentally, as well as physically.

If you need a reminder that life can still be pretty great, even in quarantine, check out this video series:

The past few weeks have been tough on all of us. People have been ill, lost their jobs, had school and other experiences cut short, and are missing out on some important milestones. To make things worse, we are all stuck inside. For me, and I’m sure for many others, it is difficult to be stuck in my house without being able to run errands, go out and socialize, and meet up with friends. In fact, I’ve started to go a bit stir crazy! However there are a few ways I have found to keep my spirits high when the quarantine scares hit. Here is a podcast that explains a little bit about how I’ve been keeping myself mentally healthy and some ways you can too!

Here are some resources for leaning more about mental health during COVID-19 and ways to contact a professional if you or a loved one needs help:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide

https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/covid-19-coronavirus

Citizen Journalism Pros and Cons

Imagine walking down the street of your own city and seeing something crazy happen, a car crash, a protest, or even an escaped zoo animal cruising down the sidewalk. You have to share this with the world!  You pull out your phone and take a video. Later, you post it online for millions to see. You’ve just become a citizen journalist! Citizen journalism is when news stories are reported, recorded, or written and published by a non-professional. Many journalists don’t like this term because they do not believe journalism can just be reported by anyone but is a professional discipline with certain standards. However, with so much access to public media and social networks it’s becoming easier and more popular to be a citizen journalist. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there is an entire newspaper in South Korea that operates off of over 2,000 citizens sending in their own citizen journalism pieces.

Citizen journalism can be a great tool and an asset to the world of sending and receiving information. By definition, anyone can be a citizen journalist, there is no special training or equipment required. This gives everyone an opportunity to give voice to news or topics of their choice. Additionally, people can report about things that are smaller scale or more specialized. Citizen journalism allows citizen reporters to get very close to topics in their local community or allows them to report to a smaller niche audience instead of news that is geared for a wider audience. Another strong advantage of citizen journalism is that it can take viewers into the action that reporters may not always get to experience. If an ordinary person is making a broadcast there aren’t as many rules, expectations, or regulations as to what they can do or where they can go. This allows citizen reporters to be fully immersed in the action of a story if they choose. For example, if there is a march or protest, a citizen journalist could fully partake in the action while filming and talking to other participants as he or she goes.

Since there are no boundaries or rules in place when it comes to citizen journalism, the report can get out of control, violate laws, or be untruthful. Citizen journalists don’t have television stations or new sites to sensor their content. There could be sensitive or inappropriate material in any report. Additionally, the journalist can knowingly or unknowingly break privacy laws or copyright laws. Arguably, the biggest concern is that it’s likely that no one fact checks the reports. People can publish anything they wish and say it is reliable news. There is also a good chance that the journalist may claim to be reporting facts but is actually reporting with bias or an agenda on a topic. An example of this would be if a citizen journalist is reporting on a crime in his or her town. The journalist may have a relationship to victims and strongly skew the facts to point fingers at a particular suspect if the reporter thinks the suspect committed the crime, even if he or she didn’t.

Citizen journalism is tricky because many of the qualities that make it such a helpful tool also make it risky. Freedom of journalism is a great thing, but it can go poorly very quickly. The same goes for journalists who are unaffiliated with certain networks, on one hand they could be seen as an objective source, but on the other you may never know if what they say is bias. The key is balance. Citizen journalism offers a unique perspective on many topics. However, while watching, viewers must realize that it is a citizen reporting and not a professional, therefore not every bit of information may be true or objective. When creating citizen journalism, it is important to keep audience in mind and ensure the story is factual and fair.

The Impact of Social Media on the 2016 Election

Politicians strive to reach the people in the most modern and personal way possible. At first this was through the radio, then television, and in recent years, social media. Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate to take full advantage of reaching voters through social media. Social media’s impact on elections only escalated from there to the 2016 election. While both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton used social media to further their campaign, the candidates did so in very different ways.

According to Journalism.org, 44% of adults reported having learned about the 2016 presidential election in the past week from social media, outpacing both local and national print newspapers. While both Clinton and Trump posted about the same frequency during the election, they differ in the focus of their posts. On Facebook, Clinton linked primarily to highlights from official campaign communication while Trump linked to news media. Both of these strategies can have advantages and disadvantages. By linking to her own campaign material, Clinton has the advantage of controlling exactly what type of content she displays to the public. While trump risks finding reliable sources giving positive news about himself, the news he does find and link on his page come from outside sources, which makes them seem more trustworthy.

Both Clinton and Trump averaged roughly five to seven posts on Facebook a day and eleven to twelve Twitter posts a day during the campaign. However, Trump’s posts received far more attention than Clinton’s. This could be partially due to Trump’s higher follower count across all platforms. Trump also had a few “breakaway” posts meaning that these posts received a much higher rate of interaction and retweets than his normal posts. Trump’s Facebook post on supporting the police was shared over 72,000 times. Hillary remained steady in her average of 5,600 shares with her highest being a Facebook post attacking Trump that received 15,000 shares, still nowhere near Trump’s post. The other important thing to note about this is that Clinton’s most popular post mentions Trump, even if it’s not in a good way. The more his name circulates the more others will look into him, think about him, and view his posts.

So how big of a role in the election did social media really play? Some people will say it controlled the outcome of the election completely. According to U.S. News, a study was published by the journal PLOS One that claims, “social media use had no measurable aggregate influence on issue beliefs.” This seems hard to believe, but it makes more sense when we take a look at social media algorithms. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all use something called a called filter bubble. Filter bubbles are part of algorithms that figure out what a person likes based on their activity on social media and show them that content. For example, a social media platform can for the most part figure out if a user is a democrat or republican based on what they read, click on, like, type and share. The platform will then show them either mostly or only content than aligns with his or her political views which ultimately reinforces the users’ already help beliefs. While news articles or outlets may offer a more diverse perspective on an election, social media wants to show users what they like, therefore it most likely will not change a users’ beliefs significantly.

MOJO Report: Coronavirus School Closure

I decided to report about school closure due to coronavirus because it is something that affects my family, my friends, my community, and myself. I noticed a difference in the way I was learning and the way I noticed my brother learning. It is especially difficult for me to focus on work when I am not physically in a learning environment and instead in my bedroom in my pajamas. I wondered if others felt the same. My interest was further peaked when a friend explained that her husband, a teacher I wound up interviewing for the video, was struggling because the school he teaches at is in a low income area and many families struggle with online learning.

How Public Relations Differs from Marketing and why it is so Important

In the modern world, connecting products, people and organizations to consumers and stakeholders is vital to the success of an organization. The two main ways organizations do this are marketing and Public Relations. While both serve the overall purpose of promotion, Marketing and public relations are very different and each bring unique strategies to an organization. The first major difference is the goal of each sector. Marketing serves to drive revenue. It focuses on the consumer and is driven by the desire for sales. Public relations focuses on generating positive media coverage and communication with stakeholders. A strong relationship with the public, the media, and stakeholders sells the company brand as a whole. To fully understand the differences between marketing and public relations it is important to take a close look at the function, tactics, and outcome of each.

Marketing focuses its attention on direct, promotional services and advertising. The goal of these tactics is to drive sales. Marketers look to reach both current and target customers. This can involve extensive research on consumer behavior, market trends, and advertisement costs. A benefit of marketing is that the company controls the message that is given to consumers. They can spin any story or campaign to their sole message and brand. The drawback of this is that to the consumer, a message coming directly from a company is less trustworthy. A company wants people to think they are great and recognize all the great things they do, so they will highlight that part in marketing, and not always paint a complete picture of the product.

Public relations isn’t consumer driven, but rather reputation driven. It also involves a lot more communication with stakeholders. Instead of solely focusing on customers, PR maintains strong relationships with anyone with interest in the brand or organization. For PR, the company is the product, and their job is to “sell” it through positive communication with media, community, and stakeholders. Unlike marketing, public relations does not have full creative control over publicity. While marketing often uses advertisements created by the company, public relations focuses on articles written by other media outlets or coverage from influencers. Public relations specialists do not have full control over what is written about the organization, but they can present facts and provide media in a way that will spin a story the way they want it.  There is just not one hundred percent guarantee it will turn out the way the specialist planned.

Another difference is that public relations usually plans long-term strategies while marketing seeks to drive instant, tangible sales. A person on the marketing team may pay for an advertisement in a magazine, consumers will see the ad and sales may go up as a result. Public relations may host a charity event to represent values of the company. While the even may not result in a big spike of sales, it improves the company’s reputation and will help sales over time if people have a good image of the organization.

To manage PR properly an organization must have a person or team of people who understand the public relations industry. PR professionals should have excellent relationship building skills. Building trusting relationships with others in the organization, stakeholders, and media personnel is key. Additionally, the company must ensure its PR team can communicate and execute the company’s values, goals, and mission clearly. Public relations is important because it invests in the company’s trust with consumers. A marketing campaign can be the best on the world, but if consumers have a bad image of the brand, they will never buy the product. Public relations is key when an organization’s reputation comes into question. Companies inevitably undergo scandals or unforeseen poor choices. With a strong public relations team, organizations can properly handle conflict and resolve issues as efficiently as possible while recovering their original reputation. Even if there is no conflict, PR is essential to manage relationship, continue to generate positive press, and communicate with its publics.

Brand and Values of Chick-Fil-A

Brands might not always seem like they dictate what we purchase, but they do, even if we don’t realize it. Brandanew describes branding as a, “complex topic that combines elements of consumer psychology with the tenets of marketing.” More often than not, emotion influences what brands people buy. That’s probably why you’re still drawn towards the same brand of toothpaste or milk that your mom bought you as a kid. Brands are picking up on this and are starting to use it to their advantage. Many brands with already established names such as Chick-Fil-A, Google, and Coca Cola have completely moved their advertisements away from talking about the product itself, and instead focused in on the emotions.

A brand that really stands out to me when it comes to emotional and values-based branding is Chick-Fil-A. This chain of chicken-joints makes it very clear to their customers and employees what their values are and that they will always stick to them. In 1946 Truett Cathy opened the first Chick-Fil-A in Hapeville, Georgia. According to the Chick-Fil-A website, Cathy decided that the restraint would be closed on Sundays to allow for Sundays to be for rest and worship. Every Chick-Fil-A still abides by this every day. That’s not the only way that Chick-Fil-A shows their strong Christian values. The food chain funds a charity called the WinShape Foundation that offers counseling to married couples. The foundation, however, does not offer service to same-sex couples. When this came to light in 2011, the public was outraged. According to the Washington Post, Dan Cathy, current CEO of Chick-Fil-A responded, “We’re inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”  Following these statements, many celebrities and public officials claimed they would boycott Chick-Fil-A. Despite not everyone agreeing with their values, Chick-Fil-A remains strong in what they believe in. The company was built by a devout Christian and the company stands on Christian values.

While it is their unwavering values that make people dislike Chick-Fil-A, it is the same values that make people come back for more. Aligning with their Christian attitudes, Chick-Fil-A demands certain standards of their employees and restaurant atmosphere. Chick-Fil-A employees are required to respond with “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” to create a kinder and more positive customer experience. Additionally, Chick-Fil-A employees are known to be always extremely polite, smiling, and they can even be seen standing in the rain taking orders to customers in the drive through. Such behavior has even launched an abundance of internet memes about how nice Chick-Fil-A employees can be.

Chick-Fil-A does not keep their brand a secret. They live it in everything they do from big company decisions to little things they employees do every day. Since their product, or their food, has already been established, they now focus their advertisements around emotion. The biggest marketing campaign for Chick-Fil-A is a cow or multiple cows wearing a sign that say, “EAT MOR CHIKIN.” This doesn’t necessarily tell the customer anything about Chick-Fil-A or its chicken, but it’s a funny and memorable image that sticks in people’s minds.

Their values come into their advertising more around Christmas time, which makes sense since it’s a Christian holiday. This past Christmas Chick-Fil-A’s commercial went viral. It was a rather long ad of an animated story where a little girl goes into a clock and enters a new world. She learns about the value of time and when she returns to her home, encourages her family to spend more time together. The ad ends with the whole family building a snowman together outside. By watching the ad, a viewer would have no idea what brand or company it was for until the last few seconds when the Chick-Fil-A logo is displayed on the screen. The ad tells nothing about the product, but it does appeal to the emotional values of the company. When someone watches that ad and then associates it with Chick-Fil-A, they associate family, value of quality time, and happiness with the Chick-Fil-A brand. Although it may not say that Chick-Fil-A has the best chicken ever, the ad perfect appeals to consumers’ emotions and reflects the company’s values.

Valentí Sanjuan and Using Social Media to To Turn Passion into a Career

If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I’ve heard this phrase many times. It inspires me to find something that I truly love doing and make a career out of it. While I still struggle in finding my one thing that I love to do, many people have already found their passion and have made successful careers out of it. Let’s be real though, not all passions as a full-time job produce a livable wage. However, tools like social media and digital production can be used to share a passion or specialty with the public and create a following. A large social media following can create opportunities to turn one’s passion into a lucrative business. This past Thursday I had the pleasure of listening to Valentí Sanjuan speak, who has turned his passion into a career using the power of social media and video.

Ten years ago, during the economic crash, Valentí Sanjuan lost his job, girlfriend, house and mother all in a span of eight months. After falling into a time of deep sadness and anxiety, Sanjuan found joy in his daily runs. This joy built up so strong that Sanjuan decided he wanted to take his fitness to the next level and train for an Ironman Triathlon. An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run, raced in that order and is considered to be one of the most difficult and physically demanding races sporting events in the world. This was clearly no ordinary task so Sanjuan decided that he wanted to share his experience of running and Ironman with the world. As social media was just picking up speed Sanjuan learned how to use several popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a few years later, Instagram to tell his story and explain his emotions while competing in Ironman Triathlons.

As Valentí Sanjuan continued to post videos about his races on Instagram, @sanjuanvalenti, and YouTube, more and more people became interested in him. His story and his actions inspired the public. They followed him because they could relate to something in him. Of course, not everyone is going out and doing Ironman Triathlons after watching his videos, but there is a more general message in the videos that make people question, “what am I doing?” This Question of “what am I doing?” is something that Sanjuan discussed with us when I listened to his speak. When audiences see that Sanjuan is training hard and living his dream it encourages them to ask themselves, what their own excuse is to not find happiness and do what they love. During the talk Sanjuan told us, “do what you want, travel what you want, study what you want.” This message is what helps him connect with his audience. People use his extreme case of success to relate it to their own small, daily hardships and find the motivation to keep going and maybe even start something new.

Since his first video, Sanjuan’s impressive physical accomplishments have grown along with his following. He has since completed ten Ironman Triathlons in ten days, several Ultraman Races, and he bike, ran, and swam his way back to Barcelona after completing one of the most difficult bike races in the world in Africa. He explained that great content is key in building a following and a brand. Sanjuan said that it is vital to have amazing content so that you can connect with your audience. When you connect with your audience and gain a following, brands will want to sponsor you and “pay for the whole thing.” By looking at Sanjuan’s Instagram, it is easy to see how he connects with his audience. Starting at the top, a bio is important to let your audience know what you do and give a first impression of your brand. Sanjuan’s bio reads, “As a child I wanted to be a superhero, but something went wrong. Since then I travel the world via Ironmans, Ultramans and crazy races in general.” This bio begins with a quirky statement that invites the audience to recognize the fun and adventurous spirit in Valentí Sanjuan. Additional he is already relating to his viewers, after all, who didn’t want to be a superhero when they were little? He then gives a brief, one sentence summery about what he doe and what can be expected from his account. The pictures and videos following the bio don’t disappoint. Sanjuan posts clear, high quality pictures of him in action, him with his bike, him with friends at races, and even some of the physical results and strains on his body after a race. The beautiful content gives off an upbeat and positive vibe. Sanjuan is happy in all of his pictures. He somehow even seems to radiate positivity in the videos when he is shown struggling through a race. On top of the fantastic content that connects with audiences, Sanjuan also utilizes technical elements of Instagram. He has several Instagram story highlights, IGTV, and a link to his YouTube in his bio.

While Valentí Sanjuan is a great example of how social media can turn one’s passion into a fulltime job, he is not the only one. Another one of my personal favorite examples is the Blonde Abroad. The Blonde Abroad, aka Kiki, is a California woman that quit her job to as she writes on her blog, “embrace on a summer of soul searching.” Through her summer travels she realized her passion for solo, female world travel and began a blog for women who want to travel the world alone or with a group. Kiki used content to connect with her audience and inspire people to travel. She highlights her favorite spots on her Instagram @theblondeabroad and on her blog. While she uses incredible imagery in her content, it is the connection she builds with her audience that boosts her brand and builds her following.

Both Valentí Sanjuan and the Blonde Abroad turned their passions into careers by inspiring their audience through social media. Offering a unique and emotional perspective on things that not everyone can experience first-hand peaks peoples’ interest. This combined with the inspiration that follows asking oneself, “why not me?” creates a connection with the audience that continues to grow as more content is created. While it is important for pictures to be pretty, it is the emotional connection that makes audiences follow creators.  

Why Mojo is the Future of Journalism

In 2007 the world changed forever. The way that people communicated, listened to music, received information, created and shared content was revolutionized by the release of the iPhone. Smartphones today can do pretty amazing things. The cameras are so good that in some cases they can even replace fancy, hundred-dollar studio equipment. This is how Mobile Journalism began, Mojo for short. Mojo allows anyone with a smartphone to become a journalist, reporter, and vlogger. It is a digital form of storytelling where stories are filmed and edited on a smartphone. Many mobile journalists use other equipment to enhance their video and audio such as tripods to stabilize video and a microphone that can be plugged back into the audio jack on the phone, but the smartphone I still the heart of the operation.

So why go Mojo? Well, there are a lot of benefits to using smartphones to capture and tell stories. First off, it is extremely cost efficient. In today’s day and age just about everyone has a smartphone, so there is no need to buy an expensive camera. The only other equipment needed (which is optional) is a camera stand, microphone, and extra light, all which can be found for under a hundred dollars. Second, Mojo is super easy to travel with and transport. Since its just on your smartphone you’ll most likely be taking that wherever you go anyway. Whether you’re chasing a story or just happen to be out and stumble upon something that would be great to record, you are ready for action. For planned travel for stories, most equipment can easily fit in a backpack and is lightweight. Ideal for walking or air travel.

A lot of times Mojo can be more discreet and mobile, which is key as a good journalist. Filming events such as protests, private or personal situations, or even events when bulky cameras aren’t permitted can draw unwanted attention and compromise a story. So many people film on their phones every day that no one will even give you a second look while capturing a story. Interviewees may also get intimidated by high-tech camera and sound equipment. Being filmed on an iPhone is more inviting and casual, making for a better interview. The mobility of smartphones allows for video where big film equipment may not fit, like in the depths of a cave, in a thick jungle or other small, cramped areas.

Marc Settle, former BBC Journalist and current trainer at the BBC College of Journalism, offers some advice on how to be a successful mobile journalist, he writes, “an external battery is a must, and maybe a mobile hotspot, too.” While Mojo has a lot of benefits there are still some things journalists must be aware of. Connectivity is vital. Without WIFI or some sort of internet connection live broadcasts cannot work. Phone battery life is also a matter to consider. While the iPhone batteries are improving with every model, there is still possibilities of a phone dying during an interview or while filming. Mojo is a great tool for anyone who wants to be a journalist. If works for amateurs who work independently and cannot afford lots of equipment or professionals who want the benefits of a small, mobile, and discreet way of filming.

If you want to learn more about Mobile Journalism check out this video:

Beginning Barcelona: Studying Abroad is Lonely AF Sometimes

Social media can be deceiving. We all know that people usually only post the “best” pictures and moments from their lives, but sometimes it’s hard for our brains to remember that as we scroll through endless pictures of people smiling, posing, and visiting cool places. I fell into this trap of thinking that life is all rainbows and butterflies when I arrived in Barcelona last month. I had come to the city alone, not knowing anyone else. It will be fine, I thought to myself, went to college 800 miles from home and made friends so easily. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The difference between starting at a new college as a freshman and joining study abroad program is as follows: when you are a freshman at a new school, you’re in the same boat as almost everyone else, no one knows each other; however, most people come abroad with their friends. I expected this, but I didn’t think fully through all the challenges that came along with infiltrating an already formed friend group. I met people in class and through different activities. They were nice, we talked, we maybe exchanged social media information and that was about the end of it. What followed was smiles and waives to each other when we passed in the hallway but never an invite out or plans to get together. I reached out to friends to make plans, but I was always worried that I was intruding or pestering them too much with my constant requests to tag along on their daily activities.

My loneliness was only magnified by the fact that I was an entire ocean away from home, my friends from college, and my parents. I grew up traveling to other states to stay with relatives by myself, spending a few weeks out of the summer at sleep-away-camp, and even ventured a stiff twelve-hour drive away from home for college and I have never been one to experience homesickness. However, there is something about being in a whole new country alone that felt different.

Throughout my first month I spent days alone in my compact, single room feeling trapped and praying that something would change. If I could just fid one person who wanted to hang out with me, I would be okay. I called my mom and friends from school to fill the long stretches I would go without talking to anyone in person. Its’ not like I wasn’t trying to be social; I am actually a very social person. The group of girls I hung out with during that first month honestly contributed to the problem. Yes, it was fantastic to get out of my room and explore the city, but with them it came at the price of feeling like I was unwelcome and unimportant. Despite the size of the sidewalk, there was never any room for me to walk along side of them. I was always pushed to the back. I was never addressed during conversations, my opinion was not valued, and I always ended up in the odd chair at meals. It even got to the point where when I asked to grab dinner in the café where we have our meal plan, my texts would go unanswered until I went down to get food on my own and saw them all sitting there without me.

After a lot of sad days, I realized that I was worth more. I didn’t need to be friends with people that would treat me as if I wasn’t of equal value. Studying abroad isn’t about making friends, it’s about experiencing a new place, and finding friends along the way. My desire to find friends first was clouding my experience of such an amazing city. I was perfectly capable of venturing out on my own. Once I accepted that my entire experience began to change. I began to explore on my own and do what I wanted to do. I even went paragliding on my own in Switzerland, which was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had and totally empowering. Oddly enough, once I broke away from trying so hard to make girls like me that just didn’t want to add another head to their group, I started being myself more which lead to me meeting more people in my classes, and even making some real friends. My entire mindset shifted. I started living abroad for myself and not for others. I was happier. I was stronger.

Something else that I’ve taken away from this experience so far is that it is extremely common to feel lonely abroad. Usually when I open up about my experience to people, they confess that they have or are going through something similar. When my mom realized that I wasn’t enjoying my time abroad she reached out to some of our family friends who had kids go abroad to see if they had any advice. To my surprise, both people she contacted said that their kids abroad were miserable at the beginning and extremely lonely, as well. They said a lot of people struggle at the beginning but assured us that it gets better with time. Luckily for me, it has been getting better. Even though there were days I felt as if there was no hope, I’ve realized that the experience was overall good for me. I learned to be much more independent and content in my own company. I also learned how to reach out to people and push yourself to be social with strangers even if it feels uncomfortable at first.

To anyone reading this that feels lonely in a new place, keep pushing through. Get out of your comfort zone to meet new people or learn to be happier in your own company. Most of all, know that you’re not alone. To anyone who may be in a place and notice someone who may be lonely, take the step to start a conversation with them and even invite them out if it feels right. I promise, it could change their lives, and yours.

Some Snapchat Secrets

Snapchat is just a social network, right? Wrong. Snapchat was most likely created for friends to share pictures of what they are doing with other close friends in a more casual way than other photo sharing networks. However, Snapchat has many uses outside of just casual conversations with your pals. Sometimes Snapchat can even be used to do some classic teenage girl detective work. Take the snap map, for example. We’ve all done that little one foot in the door one foot out of the door dance on our way to class hoping that we won’t run into that one person we really don’t want to see. With snap map, Snapchat really threw us a bone here. If I’m not looking my best one day, you know I will be checking the snap map to make sure no one I know is in there before I head to campus Starbucks. The way it works is that when someone creates an account on snapchat, they have the option to make their location public on the “snap map” which is a map that shows users where all their friends with their locations on are in the world.

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Another super-secret way to take advantage of Snapchat is by using the snapchat “score.” Someone’s Snapchat score goes up every time they open or send a snapchat. While this trick may be a bit over the top, it can still come in handy. You think that cure girl or boy from the other weekend is ignoring your messages? You just know it can’t be 4 hours since they’ve checked snapchat? Maybe they actually are busy. There’s only one way to find out! Check if their snap score has gone up.

Snapchat stories can be a great way of subtly showing off, as well. A little staged story never hurt anyone, everyone’s doing it, I promise. Sometimes dimming the lights and throwing on a little make up to post a story might make your crush who watches it think you’re out socializing instead of in your bed with your best friends Ben and Jerry watching Friends re-runs at 3 am. It’s a simple trick, but it can be effective.

While Snapchat is a great way to communicate with friends, it has so many more fun uses. If you’re not like me and always trying to trick people into thinking that you’re cooler than you are, there are more ways to use Snapchat like a normal person, too. For example, by subscribing to different public stories Snapchat offers you can get your news, look at beauty tips, laugh at some BuzzFeed jokes and so much more. Snapchat really is revolutionizing the social media sphere by adding so many features. You can even text with our pictures or send money to people. It is definitely one of the most versatile social media platforms out there. With all the competition among social media platforms and constant addition of new features, I am excited to see what Snapchat comes up with next and how I can use it to my advantage!

If you want to learn more about Snapchat, check out their website here.