With 265 million daily active users (DAUs), Snapchat is among the most popular social media platforms, particularly for Millennials and Gen Z in the U.S. In fact, more than 75% of the 13-34-year-old U.S.population uses Snapchat, translating to greater than “$1 trillion in direct spending power of Gen Z and Millennials.”
As we’ve grown accustomed to across other social platforms, Snapchat’s algorithms and terminology are ever-evolving, and can be confusing if you’re not a frequent user of the app. For consumers and advertisers alike, we’ll demystify how Snapchat’s algorithms work, and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the app.
Snapchat Best Friends Algorithm
On Snapchat, your Best Friends are the people you Snap and Chat with most often. Users cannot see each others’ Best Friends lists, though there are ‘emoji indicators’ that will reveal shared best friends. This is explained in greater detail below, within Snapchat Emoji Meanings.
You can have up to eight best friends, all of whom will be featured on the ‘Send To’ screen when you send a Snap, and in the Chat section of your profile.
Snapchat is notoriously secretive about the specific algorithm that determines your Best Friends list, and which factors play into the rankings, though we do know this list updates in real-time as users interact with different friends.
Prior to 2018, the algorithm looked at users’ interactions with each other over the past week, then created an ordered list based on the number of interactions. Now, the algorithm is more complex, factoring in participation in group chats, the number of Snaps sent, and more.
Snapchat Emoji Meanings
On your Snapchat Friends list, you may notice that some friends have emojis next to their names. Each Friend Emoji has a different meaning, explained below:
What does the pink hearts emoji mean on Snapchat?
The double pink hearts emoji (💕) means that you have been each other’s #1 Best Friend for two months in a row. This person is considered your Snapchat Super BFF.
What does the red heart emoji mean on Snapchat?
The single red heart emoji (❤️) means that you have been each other’s #1 Best Friend for two weeks in a row. In Snapchat’s world, this is your BFF.
What does the yellow heart emoji mean on Snapchat?
The single yellow heart emoji (💛) means that you are each other’s #1 Best Friend – aka Besties! This is the person that you send the most snaps to, who also sends the most snaps to you.
What does the smiley emoji mean on Snapchat?
The smiley emoji (😊) means that they are one of your Best Friends, but not your Bestie. This is someone you send snaps to often, and is considered one of your BFs.
What does the grimacing emoji mean on Snapchat?
The grimacing emoji (😬) is the face of Mutual Besties. If you see this emoji alongside a friend’s name, it indicates that your Bestie (#1 Best Friend) is also their Bestie.
What does the face with sunglasses emoji mean on Snapchat?
The sunglasses emoji (😎) signals Mutual BFs; one of your Best Friends (BFs) is also one of their Best Friends.
What does the fire emoji mean on Snapchat?
The fire emoji (🔥) means that you have a Snapstreak with that person. The number next to the fire emoji tells you how many consecutive days you’ve sent Snaps to each other. Once your Snapstreak has reached the 100-day mark, your efforts will be rewarded with the 100 (💯) emoji.
What does the hourglass emoji mean on Snapchat?
The hourglass emoji (⌛️) means that your Snapstreak will end soon. You need to send a Snap to each other within 24 hours, or your Snapstreak will expire. Think of the hourglass as a fire (🔥) extinguisher with a ticking clock!
What does the birthday cake emoji mean on Snapchat?
The birthday cake emoji (🎂) serves as a reminder that it is your Snapchat friend’s birthday, if your friend has enabled this information in their settings.
How Do Snapchat Stories Work?
On the Stories screen, you can watch your friends’ Stories, publisher and creator Stories, Shows, and more.
Stories are broken into three sections:
- The Friends section, which shows your friends’ Stories at the top of the screen.
- The Subscriptions section, which shows all of the Stories and Shows that you’re subscribed to.
- The Discover section, which shows third-party stories.
You can also swipe left on the Stories screen to explore content in the Spotlight section, which highlights “the most entertaining Snaps” from the Snapchat community. Users can submit a Snap to Spotlight by creating a Snap, then selecting ‘Spotlight’ at the top of the ‘Send To’ screen.
What is Snapchat Discover?
In the Discover section of the Stories page, users can find Stories from:
- Snap Stars
- Sponsored Stories
- …and more!
The Discover section is particularly relevant to brands who want to advertise through Snap Stories. Story ads are “a series of 3-20 Single Image or Video Ads” that users can watch by tapping a branded tile in the Discover section. To learn more about the advertising opportunities available on Snapchat, check out our Ultimate Guide to Snapchat Ads.
Snapchat Filters and Lenses
Snapchat Filters are design overlays that users can add after they take a Snap. Filters can add color effects, show location or weather information, highlight a special event, and more.
Advertisers can create sponsored Filters to promote an event, brand, location, and more. Sponsored Filters must have a visible brand logo or brand name.
Snapchat Lenses, on the other hand, use augmented reality (AR) to transform users’ appearance or surroundings while they create a Snap. Lenses can add 3D effects, characters, objects, and transformations.
Lenses use a face detection algorithm to apply features and effects onto users’ faces before they take a photo.
How Does the Snapchat Face Detection Algorithm Work?
Snapchat Lenses use the Viola-Jones algorithm to apply Lenses to a face. The algorithm recognizes that most people have similar facial structures and features, called Haar Features.
Next, the algorithm uses the Active Shape Model to fully detect your features. This model has been trained to identify the borders of facial features on an “average face.” With that training, the Active Shape Model can use machine learning to create a 3D model that can move and scale with your face.
With Snapchat’s Lens Web Builder, advertisers can leverage Snapchat’s AR technology and create immersive, 3D Lens campaigns. Like Filters, Sponsored Lenses must include a visible logo or brand name.
How does Snap score work?
Like the Best Friends algorithm, Snapchat won’t reveal exactly how Snap score is calculated. However, it takes into account the number of Snaps you send and receive, as well as how many Stories you’ve posted.
Does Snapchat keep your photos?
Snapchat deletes your photos once all recipients have viewed them. If the Snap remains unopened for 30 days, it will be deleted.
How far back does Snapchat data go?
Snapchat automatically deletes chats and Snaps once they’ve been viewed or have expired. Stories are deleted after 24 hours. You can also set your Stories to automatically save to your Memories folder.
Snaps submitted to public Stories may be viewed on Snapchat for varying amounts of time, though users have the option to delete their Stories from public Stories.
Do Chats on Snapchat count for Best Friends?
How often you chat with someone will only affect your potential status as Best Friends where those chats include Snapped pictures or videos. Traditional conversational messages (sending text-based messages or non-Snapped, stored photos or videos) does not “count” toward a Best Friends status.
Is the number of followers you have on Snapchat visible?
Your follower count is only visible on Snapchat if you choose for it to be; by default, your follower count is not shown. Snapchat first gave users the option to show how many followers they have in late 2020; this has been a largely welcomed update by high profile creators, influencers, and brands with sizable followings.