Snapchat’s ascension to its social media throne has been a long one, but in no way has it been subtle. Instead, the Snapchat team innovated early, bringing new and interesting ways for people to view and interact with other users. The foundation of the app’s appeal is in its speed, enforced by the “self-destructing” nature of all media shared on it. Instead of static feeds like Facebook and Instagram, where videos and images linger until you decide to delete them, Snapchat media lasts only seconds–a maximum of 10 for a single image or video. You can make that a little longer with a paid feature, and you can put together a 24-hour “story” of combined images and videos, but everything shared on Snapchat is a bright, fast-burning flame; it’s meant to be brilliant and eye-catching while it’s there, but once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
While some users might find that a bit of a limiting way to have their photos and videos treated, the millions and millions of active Snapchatters will certainly do a lot to cement the app’s widespread popularity. On top of that foundation, the team has added significantly more features, both fun and useful. We’ve seen stickers, filters, lenses, and most recently Snapchat has even added video calling to its repertoire, making it very nearly as useful for communication as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.
Behind all of its usefulness, though, what Snapchat succeeds at best is providing its users with a social media platform that moves as fast as their own lives; moments are appreciated as moments, and each upload that you make to your fellow Snapchatters has plenty of room to flex your artistic expression. It’s a happy melding of fluid social media and on-the-fly creativity.
While all of the app’s additional features are fantastic and fun in their own right, filters have received a ton of special attention. They’ve gone from a simple feature into a monetized powerhouse, where users are now able to create graphics that are representative of specific areas and upload them for review. With on-demand filters, you can even pay to have your custom filter distributed within a specific location for a limited time, either for fun or to promote yourself or a business.
However, there are still heading features, little tricks, and techniques, that don’t stand out immediately to most users. One of those (and it was only recently added, so we can’t fault you) is the birthday filter. It’s special for all of the reasons that you might guess, and it’s only available one day out of the year. You can probably guess which day that is, too!
Snapchat Filters – What’s the Deal?
If you’re a new Snapchat user, or you haven’t been using it for very long, you might not know what a journey the app’s filters feature has been through. We’re all familiar with how they work, by now–a graphic overlay that encompasses all or part of an image or video, changing its colors, composition, or maybe just embellishing it with flashy graphics.
Instagram has mastered the trend of the “photo filter,” but Snapchat is still killing it when it comes to pop and flair. It can be artistic or fun or both; the app provides plenty of opportunity for any avenue that you might want to take for your particular snaps.
Much like the fast-burning-flame that is Snapchat media, filters also can be a fleeting thing. While you’ll always have access to filters, the particular graphics that will be available to you are always changing. Different photo filters are occasionally swapped in to replace those that have been around for a while, and changing your location can most certainly provide you with new and interesting options. The app’s “Geofilters” guarantee that specific locations are going to bring along their own fun. The Snapchat team has made many, and crafty users have made more.
All that you have to do is swipe from the right on the Snapchat home screen, after shooting a photo or video. As long as location services are enabled on your phone, you’ll be provided with a full spread of available filters for your enjoyment.
Let’s Talk ‘Birthday Filter’
Except, of course, the brand new birthday filter made available in one of Snapchat’s 2016 updates. This nifty filter is only going to show up one day out of the year, and it’s guaranteed to land on one of the most special days for you. As long as you’ve been honest about when your birthday is (don’t worry; your friends don’t have to know how old you are!), you’ll get access to this feature, but it won’t be you alone!
One of the coolest things about Snapchat’s new birthday filter is that it isn’t just for you. Though you’ll get the chance to throw a little bit of confetti on your snaps during your special day, a cake emoji will also show up next to your name on all of your friends’ contact lists. They’ll know it’s your birthday, and tapping the cake emoji will let them send you “Happy Birthday” messages with about as much flair as the Snapchat filters system can muster.
The entire feature needs to be enabled, though; for many users, it isn’t by default.
Enabling the Birthday Filter
From within the Snapchat settings, simply select the listing for your own birthday. The information may or may not already be entered, but ensure that it’s accurate. Snapchat will confirm your age, and then you’ll be able to toggle on a feature called “Birthday Party.” Flip that switch and you’re good to go!
Do know, however, that you can only change your listed birthday a specific number of times. My own attempt to change the setting to the current day (it’s an innocent lie, all right?) was not met with success, so if you have a birthday that’s yet to come up in 2016, simply look forward to it! Try to switch that special day too many times in the settings menu, and it’ll be locked for a short duration.
Snapping on Your Friends’ Birthdays
If someone on your contact list has a birthday coming up, you may see a tiny “cake” emoji next to their name! This means that it’s their birthday and they have the Birthday Party feature enabled. When you’re sending this person a message, you’ll have access to the “Happy Birthday” filter that will help you in wishing them a very special day.
Not that any of us needed help remembering when all of our friends’ birthdays were, of course. Nevertheless, this is a remarkably handy feature for that reason alone; you won’t have to miss another one, and on top of that, Snapchat can give you the means to send something even more personal than your typical birthday card!
Snapping on Your Birthday
On your own birthday, you’ll be given a special filter that you can use to mark the celebration. I hope you’re a fan of confetti because you’re going to be seeing it in ample amounts!
You’ll be accessing this filter in the same way that you get to the rest of Snapchat’s offerings. Simply snap a selfie and get to swiping! Do know that you have to have the “Birthday Party” feature enabled, but once you do, it’s a precious way to add a little bit of sweet celebration once per year.
Before we close out this quick little guide, how about a neat trick that will take your birthday party and “turn it up to 11?” We’ve already talked about on-demand Geofilters on Appamatix, and how they’ll allow users to share limited-duration, custom filters at specific locations. Prior to your party, knock out a custom design and upload it for the Snapchat team’s approval. For only $5, you can share a unique Snapchat filter at your birthday party, allowing users to subsequently wish you a very unique, “Happy Birthday!”
It’s simple in concept, but that’s why it works so well. It’s why most of Snapchat’s many features work so well; anybody that can swipe themselves into the settings menu can take advantage of them with little effort required. Additionally, there’s something intimate and important about features that help to make a special day even better, and that’s exactly what the birthday filter has been designed to do.
Snapchat’s reigning popularity isn’t likely to diminish anytime soon. This once-simple app has blossomed into a fully-featured communication suite that not only connects people but helps them to showcase moments in their lives with the sort of representation that they deserve. Hopefully, as we move through 2016, we’ll see even more new features and updates along the lines of this small (but significant) addition. The Snapchat birthday filter isn’t going away, so keep an eye on your contact list and never miss another birthday!