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Snapchat has launched a new feature called Discover, the social networking app’s latest attempt to kill off Facebook. Both social networks have been battling it out for the lucrative teen demographic and with Facebook users reportedly ageing far too quickly, Snapchat has released a number of features over the last year to stay young and fresh.
Anger against Facebook
Last year Facebook angered many brands that depend on it for sending traffic to their sites. In altering its news feed algorithm, the organic reach of posts on Facebook started falling, and managers of Facebook pages notices their posts were reaching a smaller and smaller fan base. Facebook admitted it had altered the algorithm to make sure users “have a meaningful experience on the site” and ensure brands actually start paying up for reach. Marketers were clearly disappointed and threw money at the problem in an attempt to make sure Facebook choose their content in news feeds above everyone else’s — but often without much success.
That’s why Snapchat’s announcement of Discover this week was quite interesting, and could very much be seen as a direct attack on Facebook’s falling out with marketers:
“[Snapchat Discover] is not social media. Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”
Snapchat lures creatives
With the above paragraph, Snapchat has made its intentions known: to get “editors and artists” on their side. Since the internet is regarded as a place where free expression is celebrated, marketers often consider themselves as artists. And now that Snapchat is offering them free reign over its app, of course they’ll be paying more attention to their Snapchat strategies than Facebook’s. And as an editor (and former employee of many editors in the past), the best part of this paragraph is Snapchat’s assertion that editors are in fact the best people to “determine what’s important”. You won’t believe how much editors love to think that and believe its their destiny to determine what’s important. I can hear every struggling newsroom editor across the world take a giant sigh of relief thinking: “Snapchat really cares about me!”
Publishers and “gorgeous advertising”
In the world of media and advertising there are two opposing forces that new entrants have to suck up to: editors and publishers. Editors are often the hardest to get on your side with their strong believe in independence and authenticity. Snapchat just ticked that box by saying they count on editors. But publishers are the guys and gals carrying the wallets, the people with spending power who are often more important. That’s why Snapchat continues writing:
“[Snapchat’s] Discover is different because it has been built for creatives. All too often, artists are forced to accommodate new technologies in order to distribute their work. This time we built the technology to serve the art: each edition includes full screen photos and videos, awesome long form layouts, and gorgeous advertising.”
The word most important to publishers was left for last: advertising. But this isn’t just any kind of advertising, they’re talking about “gorgeous advertising”. That is the kind that gets publishers especially excited. And since Snapchat was built “to serve the art” there’s good reason why we’ll see the creative industry follow in droves.
Snapchat for all
I’ve only been on Snapchat for a week, a week in which it took me two days to figure out how it works. Even though I’m a millennial, I looked at Snapchat in the way my mom must have looked at Facebook the first time she saw it. What is this for? How does it work? For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out until friends (who quit Facebook because they just turned 20) showed me how.
I can’t quite explain Snapchat’s appeal but it’s a new way of content discovery and sharing that makes Facebook look outdated. What the new Discover feature does is give 12 well-known media brands direct access to Snapchat’s users. The jury is still out whether this partnership will benefit anyone but it is a good enough reason to give Snapchat another go.