Today, Snapchat started rolling out a redesigned ‘Discover’ section that aims to make it easier to boost the views of publishers’ content, a move that will fuel Snapchat’s only revenue stream — advertising.
Switching to squares with larger images helps to better discern what might be inside a ‘Story,’ and adding the ability to subscribe is another great metric for publishers to track, but the core issue is the same as it’s always been: Discover doesn’t work on Snapchat. It’s a square peg vying for a place in a round hole.
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The redesign is an effort to attract more eyeballs to publisher content, and as a whole, it accomplishes that. What it doesn’t accomplish, however, is making the feature feel as if it’s part of the Snapchat experience. The stories are overly produced, expensive to make, and feel like they’re taking a hard left from its core product offering, a move that shifts the focus to advertising revenue rather than good content.
Snapchat is an ephemeral source of raw and underproduced photo and video content with little reliance on text. Discover flips the script by being overly-reliant on text with a short teaser video (which is closer to a GIF) to entice users to click. It’s an RSS reader slapped on to the top of a platform made for short attention spans, and creativity.
Honestly, it just seems out of place.
Unlike other platforms, Snapchat’s quirky format and over-reliance on vertical-only video makes these stories hard to repurpose and use elsewhere, a decision that forces publishers to eat the expense and essentially move all-in to keep creating daily updates. In addition, it’s only available to a few publishers (19) and completely overlooks those that could provide the needed innovation to make Discover shine.
Snapchat was always a platform (much like Vine, Instagram and others) that favored the underdog, a scrappy hustler who was equal parts creative and ambitious. The platform gave a voice to the little guy and allowed him (or her) to compete with big brands through creative storytelling, timely videos and authenticity.
If Snapchat really want to fix Discover, open it up to the people that made Snapchat worth using. Strip away the heavy production and allow brands to create raw, authentic content like the rest of the Snapchat user base; only then will the feature begin to seem at home on the thriving platform many of us have grown to love.