How to Win Snapchat



Article Highlights

  • Christine Mi, a senior Economics major at Ezra Stiles, is a Snapchat artist and influencer.  
  • Her Snapchat art, usually creative selfies, have been featured on prominent websites such as CollegeHumor, Smosh, and Seventeen. She has been listed by The Verge as one of the top Snapchat accounts to follow, alongside Taco Bell and The New Yorker.
  • She now works with companies to create engaging Snapchat campaigns. Her previous partnerships include work with television shows and movies such as ABC’s Pretty Little Liars and 20th Century Fox’s Insurgent.


D: I saw one of your Snapchat pics for the contest to meet Evan Spiegel a few months back and knew I had to talk to you. How did you get started with Snapchat? Did you know it was going to get big?

“Well, it started with ugly faces and then silly doodles. I have always had a strong interest in art and it just came naturally to start drawing over my snaps. Once I figured out how to get more colors, I started making more intricate doodles of me as random characters and sending them to my friends. After a while I decided I wanted a place to put them all together, so I made a tumblr for them. It sort of blew up from there and then it got picked up by various publishing outlets, and it’s been a crazy fun ride since!”

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Christine’s earlier works

D: Your artwork is known for being really detailed for a Snapchat pic. Are you able to do this all by hand? Do you need a stylus?

“I typically will use my hand since that’s what Snapchat was designed for. There’s a lot of undoing involved because it’s hard to be precise, but it helps to have an idea of what you’re doing beforehand. Having a stylus has made things a little easier – as has upgrading to an iPhone 6 plus!”

D: It’s awesome how you took a casual hobby of yours and made something out of it. How did you end up working for different brands? What are your projects like?

“A few months ago, an agency reached out to me about opportunities for Snapchatters to partner with brands. Of course I jumped on that opportunity! I haven’t been doing this for that long, and it’s still a little nerve-wracking when someone calls me! But I’ve gotten to work on a lot of really awesome projects. Most of the stuff I’ve done has surrounded television shows and movies, but I’m also working with non-profits and other brands. I also got to help with the brainstorming for a scripted Snapchat show in partnership with AT&T. It’s been great, and I’m still learning a lot on each project!”

image02NBC’s The Voice

D: I skimmed through your blog and there’s a lot of interaction between you and fans of your art.  How does that relationship work on Snapchat? Are your Snapchat stories specific to anything?

“Basically my fans look at my Snapchat Story, and they can take screenshots or send me Snaps. I try to open all of them and respond to questions. A lot of them find me through Tumblr or online articles, and they come from all over the world which is really cool! My stories are usually pretty art-heavy, and sometimes I’ll engage with my followers by doing mini-contests and interactive stories. For instance, I told my fans I was going to be drawing a Pokemon battle – and asked for submissions on who to battle who and ended up with Charizard and Mewtwo. On Easter I had an Easter egg hunt and an egg-decorating contest with tons of awesome submissions. I love how creative you can get with the platform.”

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Christine’s Tips + Tricks

On Snapchat pics:

  • You can get a whole spectrum of colors once you drag around outside the bars, so you’re not limited to the color bar.
  • Sometimes I’ll get ideas but be in a situation where it’s not socially acceptable to take a selfie, so I keep an archive of selfies for emergency situations…
  • The caption is key to a great Snapchat!

On marketing:

  • Every person works on a campaign differently but it’s important to stay organic and native to the platform!

On being shameless:

  • Sometimes I get insecure about my posts and wonder, “Is this too shameless? What are people that I know going to think about this?” You just have to realize that for every person who dislikes what you’re doing, there are more who appreciate it. I am fortunate to have support from friends, family, strangers. When all else fails, I turn up the Beyonce and throw some shades on – haters gon hate.

D: How effective is marketing with Snapchat when all of the photos disappear and the space limits functions that the public can see, for instance comments or likes? Instagram and Twitter seem better suited for publicity.

“Brands are definitely struggling with these questions now: What’s the point if the content goes away? There’s not really a science behind it. You do get some analytics, but ultimately, it’s more than just numbers. In creating an engaging Snapchat campaign, the right questions to ask are: Have I created value? Are my followers interested? Have they made an organic connection with the brand?”

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Art history series

D: Is this something you’re thinking of pursuing in the future?

“My gut is saying this is the time to do it. I just made the decision to pursue this full time after I graduate. I value job stability and security as much as any other Yale student, but I think I would really regret it if I didn’t let myself at least try, even if I failed miserably. My parents are really supportive, and I think I’ve played it safe for long enough. I just turned down a management consulting job offer, so it’s starting to feel very real.”

D: Anything unexpected you gained from this experience? Have you learned anything you wouldn’t have before?

I’ve learned not to sell yourself short. Don’t discount yourself just because you’re still in college, or a recent grad, or young, or scared, or whatever. Have confidence in yourself, and others will have confidence in you.