Move over, “Live Stories”—Snapchat is looking to appease its marketing partners.
With its latest update, Snapchat is giving a boost to its Discover section and the publishers who toil in it.
The update includes a new look for the app’s publisher icons, which have gone from circles to rectangles. Users also now have the ability to press a publisher’s icon and hold it, which brings up an option to subscribe to their feed. If a user subscribes to a publisher’s Discover feed, it will always show up in that user’s feed.
The rectangle icons also tease featured stories for each publisher, which is a first for the Discover section.
"Both Snapchat and its media partners are hoping the refresh will help boost engagement with Discover, which has reportedly been inconsistent. Some channels have claimed to attract millions of users a day while others may be seeing only a fraction of that.
The Los Angeles Times further explained:
"Two dozen publishers have been working closely with Snapchat to provide content to its Discover section. Those companies have been seeking changes that would give them more consistent viewership. Individual Live Stories, whether about a music festival or the latest NBA Finals game, could collect tens of millions of viewers. But companies in Snapchat’s Discover section have attracted fewer than 5 million viewers on a good day."
That meant a media giant such as Viacom drew far more people to a Live Story about the MTV Video Music Awards than it has to its daily-updated MTV feed of articles on Discover. Big events are great traffic boons, but they also allowed companies that weren’t participating in Discover to rack up huge numbers of viewers with successful Live Stories.
Snapchat reportedly splits ad dollars with publishers in the Discover tool, which means that it behooves the platform to drive more of its users to the section.
However, some are concerned how this will affect the user experience. TechCrunch warns that “it could overrun user generated content with top-down Discover channels, making the app feel more like a billboard than a community.”
This will grow even more important as the platform swells with new users. Variety reported:
Snapchat is on pace to grow the number of U.S. active users a blistering 27% this year, to hit 58.6 million—topping Twitter and Pinterest for the first time, according to research firm eMarketer.
And Snapchat will continue to surge through 2020: The ephemeral-messaging service will add 26.9 million users, about twice that of Twitter and Pinterest, over the next four years, per eMarketer’s forecast.
Though publishers are getting love, consumer and business-to-business brand managers will have to wait. There’s no word yet on whether the Discover section will extend to them in order to showcase their content marketing efforts.
This piece was originally published in Ragan's PR Daily