Snapchat is one of the world’s most popular social media apps, despite what seems like a highly counter-intuitive premise. Unlike other social networks, Snapchat was built on the idea that posts should be temporary. Instead of archiving everything people said or did forever (like other social media apps). They decided to act as a daily diary written in disappearing ink. On Snapchat, there is no permanent record of your thoughts and actions (unless users decide to take screenshots). That disappearing-content feature made the app famous immediately, as people would post pictures that were perhaps indiscreet without having to worry that the photos would come back to haunt them at a job interview or college admissions process.
Snapchat became so popular that its best features were straight-up copied by apps like Facebook and Instagram. Since then, Snapchat has kept to the original premise of disappearing content but has added an immense array of new features, with more added every couple of months. Features including group chats, map tracking, contextual posting, AR filters, and much more to the legacy of Snapchat. Trying to become the app that does everything. It can be incredibly challenging to get used to if you’re unfamiliar with the basic functions of the app. Snapchat doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and that can make it tough for new members of the network to learn what the app does.
One common source of confusion for new users (and even some older ones) is the numbers that are everywhere in the Snapchat user interface. Whether they be ratings or “scores,” they are meaningless if you don’t know their significance, and there’s minimal context to help you in figuring out what each individual value means. Snapchat will probably always have a cluttered interface, but with this guide, you’ll know precisely what those numbers mean when you’re using your favorite social network. Let’s take a look at this Snapchat explainer.
Snapchat Scores Explained
Let’s start at the top. From the home screen of your app, open up Snapchat—we’re using the Android version of the app. Regardless of your operating system, you’ll likely find the interface to be the same. When you first open the application, Snapchat starts in the camera interface, read to take a snap or video. The first place to look is your profile page. Load that by tapping on the small picture of your Snapchat avatar in the upper left corner of the screen. This icon has a couple of different forms; if you have a Bitmoji account synced with your Snapchat account, you’ll see your avatar appear. If you have snaps posted on your Story, you’ll see a small, circular icon displaying your most recent Story upload. And if you fall into neither of those categories, you’ll see a solid-colored silhouette for an avatar instead.
Once you’ve loaded this display, you’ll see all sorts of information. Beneath your name, you’ll find your Snapcode (which I’ve edited out of the screenshot below), which allows you to share your Snapchat contact information easily. You’ll also see your Snapchat score and an icon showing your astrological sign.
Your Snapchat score is a number that acts as a sort of achievement for how well you use Snapchat. Whether or not Snapchat needs a “scoring” method is another discussion entirely—what’s important here is discovering what that score means, how it arises, and what metrics it’s based on. Let’s take a look.
At the core of the app, you gain points for your Snapchat score by using the app. The concept is simple, but the exact rules for the point system are a mystery. Snapchat doesn’t tell users straight out how the points are calculated—their help page  on the topic simply states it’s based on an equation combining the number of snaps you’ve sent, received, posted stories, and “other factors,” whatever that last part means. Filter usage, stories viewed, group chats—it could all mean something or nothing when it comes to your Snap score.
So if Snapchat isn’t going to tell you exactly how the equation works, we’ll have to take our best guess. Here’s what we’ve found Snapchat uses to calculate your score:
- Sending and receiving snaps typically equals a point each, with some snaps occasionally equaling more.
- Sending snaps to multiple people at once doesn’t equal more points.
- Posting a story on Snapchat increases your score by a point.
- Viewing and sending chats doesn’t seem to have any impact on your score.
- Viewing other people’s’ stories also has no impact.
Your mileage may vary, however. Without knowing what “other factors” means when Snapchat describes their equation, it’s impossible to determine exactly how the score is calculated beyond sending and receiving snaps, and posting stories increase your score by a single point. As for why these scores exist? We’ll keep it simple: these scores are around to keep you snapping, and to fuel a competition between you and your other Snap users. Whether you care about the app enough to feed into the competition is really up to you, but a quick Google search for “increasing Snapchat score” yields more than 617,000 results, so enough people care about scores for thousands upon thousands of guides to be written about it.
Oh, and a quick tap on your Snapchat score will reveal two new numbers: your number of sent and received snaps, respectively. Maybe not the most important information out there, but definitely interesting for any fans of hard data and numbers.
What about your friends’ Snapchat scores? There’s two ways to see your friends’ scores, depending on what user you’re looking for.
- Swipe right from the camera display to enter the Chat display inside of Snapchat. All of your contacts are now listed in this display, along with each Story posted by your friends. If a user you follow on Snapchat has posted a Story, you’ll see the Story icon over their usual profile icon (either a Bitmoji or a randomly colored silhouette). However, if there is no Story posted, you can tap on the Bitmoji or profile icon to view the pop-up message displayed below, which will feature their score front and center.
- Alternately, if you’re looking for the score of a user who currently has a Story posted on their account, tap anywhere in the white space of the Chat screen to the left of your camera interface to load their Snap conversation display. In this panel, you’ll find the option to tap on the triple-lined menu icon in the top-left corner of the conversation display. This will open a menu from the bottom of your screen, revealing the Bitmoji, name, username, and score of a friend.
Other Numbers in Snapchat
Let’s take another look at that chat screen we mentioned earlier. Swipe right from the camera display to open the chat interface. There are typically a bunch of numbers here as well, and it can be a bit confusing if you aren’t sure what to look at. Let’s break down exactly what everything means here. Those numbers on the right side of your contacts? Those are your streak counts, which keep track of how many days in a row you’ve snapped back and forth with a user. The numbers were minimized in the recent Snapchat redesign, and, well, a lot of people seem to really hate this. The larger your phone display, the more likely it is that this won’t matter to you, but people did really seem to like the larger emoji and number counts.
Unfortunately, the minimization of these numbers and emojis don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Even more, than the Snapchat scores we just talked about, streaks are very important to a minority of Snapchat users, with some going out of their way to build their streaks with as many users as possible. For more on Snapchat streaks, check out our feature on streaks here .
Now tap on the search icon to open up a hidden display inside Snapchat. Here you’ll find a bunch of new information, including events around you, popular and top stories around the world, and genre-based stories for music, sports, fashion, and more. There aren’t a lot of number-based icons here, but you’ll want to pay attention to the time stories were posted on the account—you can find the minutes since the last story was posted here. Scroll down, and you’ll find some “Discover” stories, as well as your most recent new friends and their own snap scores (along with their related Stories and Bitmoji icons.
Hit back and head over into the camera interface in Snapchat. Snapchat has relocated your personal Stories from the Discover section to the Snapchat menu, as we mentioned at the top of this article. Snapchat Stories have numbers of their own, and it’s important to know what to look for on this display as well. When you tap on the Bitmoji/Stories icon in the top-left of your camera display, you’ll see the menu for your Story in the middle of the display. Tapping on the circular photo to the left will start to automatically playback your Stories, while tapping on the grey area will open up the Story menu, displaying everything you’ve posted.
The number at the top of this page will correspond to the oldest post on your Story, showing how many people have viewed your content. Opening the full list of your posts will show the small eye icon on the right of each Story, along with the corresponding views. On the left is the time passed since you posted the corresponding Story; since posts disappear after 24 hours, you’ll want to make sure you save any posts prior to them disappearing in order to not lose your photos or videos. Tap on the eye icon to load additional information on who has seen your story (users will be displayed in reverse chronological order), as well as how many people (and who) have taken a screenshot of your story. Snapchat will notify you when someone’s taken a screenshot of your story, so you won’t have to check this number too often in normal usage.
Most of the numbers in Snapchat have a perfectly rational explanation—with the major exception of Snap scores, which make about as little sense as one could hope for an aggregate score to make. Snap scores are harmless pieces of information, though, and despite the overall meaningless of such information, it’s fun to compete with your friends for Snap scores—if only to see who uses the app more between you and your friends. If you’re still looking for some tips on becoming a true Snapchat power user, check out our ‘how-to’ guide here .