The New Guide to Snapchat

Snapchat started with the idea of a simple photo sharing application that would allow friends to communicate with more than just text. After being available since 2011, Snapchat has grown and expanded its interface in more ways than people have expected. Now the app sits among the most popular social media applications in use today.

As Snapchat grew in popularity, the basic idea of privately sharing pictures that last a limited amount of time needed to be expanded into a more public setting. The application has added many features to strengthen its use and to keep users returning. Users can now post their own “stories,” which stay posted for 24 hours and can be seen by all of the users’ followers. This feature has proven to be popular among its users, accounting for ten billion daily views on the app alone. A private chat service has also been implemented, working in a similar way to their picture sharing in which messages are deleted after viewing. A private in-app archive system called “memories” is also a recent addition, where users can save their stories on the app for later viewing, as well as their own camera roll on their phone.

The most notable feature to be added, however, is the “Discover” tab. This addition allows different media companies the ability to partner with Snapchat and create and post a 24 hour news story in the style of Snapchat, available to view by the entire user base. Popular companies such as BuzzFeed, ESPN, Vice, and CNN have taken advantage of the opportunity.

These Discover stories do not just act as simple sample offerings from each of these media companies. With the immense growth and popularity of Snapchat, these companies are beginning to take their digestible and easy-to-navigate Snapchat stories more seriously. These companies have learned that this is a great opportunity to be seen by the eyes of millions of young users who view these stories in numbers that rival even the social media giant Facebook. Because of this, posters to the Discover page need to make sure they are putting out quality content that users deem are worth their time to view and interact with.

BuzzFeed is a great example of how to correctly use Snapchat’s Discover feature. Using their natural tendency to create content that caters to the younger generation, BuzzFeed creates stories that are easy to read, comprising of list and short articles.

This is the perfect way to format a Snapchat Discover story. With the feature of being able to send a screenshot of an article to friends, edited with emojis and drawings, users want content that invites editing and is fun to share. This will help enhance engagement on the content released under Discover, as well as spreading the brand. Short, easy to read articles are also ideal. BuzzFeed’s brand of “Top 10” articles fits perfectly into the format of having a quick read and moving on to the next piece of content.

Videos and gifs can also be added for more user engagement. The more colorful, well-edited, and quality sounding stories and videos are, the more engagement it will receive. Also note that Snapchat Discover stories must fit into the vertical video format that Snapchat has popularized. While it is not a completely natural way of viewing videos, it is what users have come to expect when using the app. The publisher of the content must be able to edit and format the video correctly. This may extend to having Snapchat in mind when shooting the video initially, to make sure a view of both horizontal and vertical format is planned accordingly. When formatted correctly, a video can come out looking great with all of the content in frame and lower thirds fitting on the phone screen. It can be risky, though. A horizontal video cannot just be cropped to fit the vertical aspect, as the transition is likely to not turn out well. A ill-fitting display that lacks effort will turn users away to the quality Discover pages that put effort into their posts.

Every post needs to be treated as a wholesome offering, giving valuable content to users. Those that are granted access to publish Discover stories need to play it smart. To get out the right content, publishers have been creating dedicated teams that focus on publishing Snapchat stories. With a good focus, the right editing and formatting, and colorful and engaging content, media companies are no longer just putting small, careless snippets on Snapchat. They have realized there is something of value in this medium that attracts millions of views every day — and those posts need to be taken seriously.

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