How Snapchat Teaches it's Users New Features

April 08, 2016

As someone who is in their late 20’s, I’m fascinated with Snapchat. It’s the platypus of social apps and I don’t get_ it like younger people do. A couple of weeks ago SnapChat released the 2.0 release of their messaging features.

For social services like Snapchat a big feature release is one of the biggest days for your service. You’ve spent months developing the newest features. If users can’t find these new features it could mean a loss of revenue or engagement. Often times a popular way to teach users about new features is an overlay called a coach mark.

I decided to fire up Snapchat to check out the new messaging features. I quickly realized that in their platypus way, they might have cracked a new way of teaching users about a new feature.


When users viewed the Snapchat Discover stories (generally reserved for content from the likes of ESPN, CNN, Vox, etc.) the first story was from Snapchat.


The first screen of the story was a coach mark used to explaining some new UI interaction. Right away users were being taught how to use the new features.


Next, if there was any doubt about what you were viewing, you were told that you were being shown new features. The next few screens weren’t great to screenshot (they were animations), but they went through all of the new calling, video chat, and sticker capabilities of Snapchat.


Finally, at the end it told you that those features were available now and gave you an opportunity to get even more info.

While I might not be enamored in the faceswap culture that Snapchat has popularized it is a great place to see how new releases and features are being shown to users to help engagement. I’m extremely interested in their decision to use a spot in the Stories section to show users the messaging capabilities; For perspective I can’t remember the last time I learned about a new Facebook feature. The next time that you’re involved with the roll out of a new feature in your service think about a unique way that you can reach your users to teach them how to use your big new release.

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