The Snapchat team announced on its website last week, “We’re introducing Snapchat Stories. A totally new way to share your day with friends - or everyone. It’s fun and ephemeral, just like Snapchat.” The Snapchat Stories feature still works in a very similar fashion to the original Snapchat function (where photos and videos are sent to friends and magically self-destruct after a set time) however, instead of disappearing after a maximum of 10 seconds, the Snaps now remain visible for a full 24 hours after they are shared. This allows friends to view the video multiple times before it is eventually erased from the system. The Snapchat Team hope that this will create a narrative, which can be built on by adding more content and creating a 24 hour story update of your life to your friends. As the posts become older than the 24 hour limit they are deleted, so as to create space for new stories and act as a constant update on your life.
The CEO of Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, hopes that this feature will encourage users to act more like their true selves, instead of creating an ‘online persona’ like they might on Facebook or Twitter. This is because on Facebook your timeline provides a transparent view of your life and posts do not disappear leaving them there for a significant length of time and possibly allowing them to lose their original context and meaning. However, with Snapchat there is the ability to send out a story to last only for one day – in this way you can act like your true self, knowing that it will only be viewed for a short amount of time and will not go down on your online history to be referred to years down the line.
Although some may believe that this new feature takes away from the instantaneous nature of the application, the Snapchat team is keen to point out that it still represents the same principles as before – it is a way of instantly sharing your life events. The team commented that “Your Story never ends and it’s always changing. The end of your Story today is the beginning of your Story tomorrow. And each Snap in your Story includes a list of everyone who views it”. Therefore, the emphasis still appears to be on instant updates of your life to your friends, even though they are now available for longer.
What this new feature does provide is a significant new marketing opportunity. Companies have already started to use Snapchat as away to advertise their brands to the correct demographic, for instance Taco Bell and MTV’s Geordie Shore, who have utilised the young age group of this social network to send out their latest updates in a new and exciting manner. With the possibility of now creating stories and videos which last for a more than the original 10 second clips – the potential for brands to use the application has increased greatly. The recognition of Snapchat’s value to brands can be seen in the promotional videos which were sent out to advertise the new feature to all snapchat users. To debut their new feature, Snapchat partnered with a number of brands and musicians to show you their stories – for example the bands Smallpools and Guards. Does this signal that Snapchat is moving to a more business-like approach, hoping to gain revenue from capitalising on companies who would like to advertise on their platform by sharing stories? Will this lead to the monetization of Snapchat?
What do you think?
Have you used Snapchat stories yet? Do you think that it is leading the way for a change in the use of Snapchat in the future?