In the age of technology and social media, more and more people are sourcing their information online. Traditional media no longer seems to be the authority on current events. On the contrary, network news appears to have become a vehicle for reporting on social media trends. The power is in our hands to decide what matters and we are empowered to share our thoughts on it. In 2011, Twitter caught onto this phenomenon and enabled publishers and websites to embed their tweets expanding the reach of their content and converting non-users to users as a result. In addition to Twitter's decision to allow this, Instagram and Facebook both allow the embed feature as well. I believe this has sparked because media companies and publishers along with social media platforms has identified how important it is to also reflect upon and report public opinion and it's significance in news reporting. Snapchat has always kept their content exclusive but with a lot of new blood in positions of power, not only is Snapchat seeing a major redesign, but they are also soon allowing the embedding of their content in hopes of expanding user growth. Their new initiative is called "Stories Everywhere" and is lead by Rahul Chopra, former news corp executive.
Snapchat is calling their new initiative to expand their user engagement "stories everywhere." They hope that this change will empower publishers and brands to engage with their audience using Snapchat. They also hope that this will cause for more non-users to be converted to users. It's been reported that the user network of Snapchat has seen some decreases this year and allowing content to be accessed beyond the app might entice people not on Snapchat prior to join and start engaging increasing the app's content by highlighting unifying moments like sporting events, holidays, etc to show how everyone is connecting over Snapchat.
Snapchat has expressed that they want to be more thoughtful in releasing their content. Twitter made some mistakes in their transition to allowing their content to be shared everywhere. Snapchat wants to avoid having their content manipulated, edited, and screenshot. Having seven years to see how Twitter has lost control of a lot of their content by allowing the embed is a cautionary tale for Snapchat and how they execute their own expansion. Chopra being new to the company has not announced much yet, but we can definitely expect the nature of these embeddable snaps to be a little bit different than what we're used to with Twitter.
Snapchat has voiced their unique philosophy behind user experience recently stating that they believe that the social aspects and media aspects of applications should be separated. Unlike Facebook who chooses to intertwine news and media content with user generated content, Snapchat will be treating the two like church and state. One side of the app will be dedicated to where users can engage with their friends and the other side of the app will be exclusively the discover tab where Snapchat will continue to feature content from their publishing partners which they hope to expand upon as well.
As a user, I see the benefit to this. When you're checking in on your friends, you don't necessarily want to have to weed through tons of click-bait; however, at the same time, I do hope there is some kind of function that will allow for users to share stories with friends. I find this form of sharing information online to be largely influential on how we consume news media today.
It's no breaking news that Snapchat does things differently than Facebook and Instagram. Facebook on a mission to monopolize social media, has not been able to touch Snapchat. I got a little worried when Instagram and Facebook released the stories feature that Snapchat would become less relevant, but the company has done a wonderful job of keeping up if not advancing ahead. Some unique features are the map that you can view stories from around the world and see where your friends are. Perhaps the most unique feature is how they handle their "Discover" tab.
Facebook has seen a number of problems with fake news being spewed across their platform. Satirical or incorrect articles are interlaced with the real articles causing for some tension and misinformation when users share an article that isn't totally truthful. While it's incredibly powerful that we as civilians have the power to access so much information and even publish it, at the same time we must remain vigilant that the news we're sharing and creating is correct. Snapchat has made sure of this in the past and seems to intend on continuing this in the future. Instead of allowing for just anybody to publish featured stories and news content on their "Discover" tab, they have paid employees reviewing everything that is featured and displayed in the "Discover" tab to avoid the short comings of Facebook and other social media platforms that have a news sharing element.
That said, with the ever changing consumption habits of audiences, Snapchat is working to keep up. Because we're such a visually charged society, Snapchat is a great way for younger users to consume news and information. While Snapchat is diligently checking everything that appears on their Discover tab, they are also looking to expand their list of publisher partners. According to Nick Bell, their 2018 content goals include "doubling down on news."
While Snapchat has appeared to be threatened by the looming monopoly of Facebook and just generally the increasing number of social media platforms for users to choose from: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, just to name a few, they continue to keep up because of their commitment to quality content and tapping into the "in an instant' mindset of the millennial and Gen x generations that are largely consuming on their apps. I think with their new initiative for "Stories Everywhere" they will largely increase their user base by showing older generations the benefits of being a Snapchat user.
Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify. Press inquiries here.
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