Snapchat Discover: Is Bite-Sized News Just for Youth?

Snapchat Discover: Is Bite-Sized News Just for Youth?
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Social media site Snapchat launched its Discover platform early this year, which brings together content from a number of publishers. However, Meltwater’s senior content marketing strategist Leslie Nuccio took a look at Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ and wondered if the offering is just for youth, or whether it could attract a more mature audience.

Snapchat is fairly well-known at this point for bucking the trend, and Discover is no exception. The company that famously turned down a $3B offer from Facebook took a swipe at them in its Discover launch blog post, declaring, “This 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.”

Who wants news snacks?

Released in January, Discover is a feature within Snapchat that offers up a fleeting collection of headline eye candy.  But this isn’t news: this is Stories (capital S, per Snapchat), and these stories (small s, per grammar) are heavy on imagery, light on text, and they disappear after 24 hours to make way for a new batch. The content is delivered by a list of hand-selected media partners like CNN, Food Network and Cosmopolitan. In total, the runaway app with 200 million users launched Discover with 11 news and entertainment providers.

Upon first glance, news in the form of text-sprinkled video that’s sugar-coated with catchy music might seem uniquely designed to satisfy the appetites of the 13 to 25-year-olds that make up the majority of Snapchat’s users.

But is this format something that might tempt a more mature audience? Snapchat’s media partners might indicate a larger play… and, as disruption and innovation expert Clay Christensen has said, “most big technologies start off looking like toys.”

Overall, Discover’s content partnerships have raised a lot of questions, from intended users and beyond. Here are a few circulating ’round the horn:

  1. Why was Katie Couric selected for all contributions from Yahoo News?
  2. (Um… Yahoo News?)
  3. Why did BuzzFeed really pull out of the deal with Snapchat?
  4. How will Snapchat deal with less middle-of-the-road media partners and user preferences?
  5. In light of recent user privacy issues (and FTC annoyances), how will Snapchat use and store Discover user data?

Whether Discover will prove a recipe for a mainstream mobile news delivery has yet to be determined. So far, it seems to be doing well from an engagement standpoint: mobile data consumption on Snapchat has increased 3-4X since Discover launched, and session time is up too. But perhaps the biggest question of all is this: if the grownups like it, will the kids move on to something else?

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