Emerging Platforms: Snapchat Write Up
Our group covered the emerging platform of Snapchat, specifically the role of journalism within Snapchat’s “Discover” feature.
What is Snapchat’s Discover feature?
Is Snapchat Discover Right for Your Brand?
When you think of Snapchat, what do you think of? Personally, I think of a single thing: "It's crazy how much marketing…
“…Snapchatter’s use Snapchat’s Discover feature for their news, to catch up on shows, or to see new sponsored posts from their favorite influencers.”
“Snapchat Discover is a page on Snapchat that’s basically a news feed. On it, you’ll find content in the story format from news publishes, also known as publishing partners…”
Our team analyzed some well-known news channels and examined the pros and cons of each channel as well as giving suggestions for these channels to improve their work within the Discover feature on Snapchat.
Vice World News
Vice World News has 425.7k subscribers on Snapchat. On their channel, you can find video stories just like the ones you see on Youtube or on their website. The layout of their channel is great because they are organized into different seasons and it is smooth to navigate. Vice World News currently has about 135 episodes in total with two seasons under the books. Audiences can benefit from watching Vice World News stories because they have so many different episodes to watch, which are about 7 minutes each.
When analyzing the episode, “Inside a Far-Right Music Festival,” which was published on Snapchat on October 27, 2021, the first thing you notice is that the video doesn’t fit the orientation of Snapchat. The shrunken dimensions cut large portions of the picture and abandon portions of the original video. Noticeably, the episode was taken directly off of Youtube and is also posted on their website. Our team was not fond of the fact that Vice has just been repurposing content on every platform. We think that creating content for a specific platform can create an intimate relationship with audiences. An audience can feel special when there is content specifically tailored for them on their respective platform. Another issue we noticed with Vice’s delivery on Snapchat was the fact that Vice failed to capitalize on the “swipe up” function to link stories back to their website.
One way our team thinks Vice World News can improve its Snapchat strategy is by utilizing the “Snap Maps” feature. Vice World News could geotag their content at a specific place on the map or create a live stream and tag it on Snap Maps. Vice is a channel that is known globally, so utilizing Snap Maps can be a creative tool that allows them to create more traffic on their platforms.
Business Insider has 282.2k subscribers on Snapchat. They use their episodes to tell news stories that tend to be pretty lengthy. Only one episode is released per week and they often are built around an interesting question of how or why (Ex: Why CBD Oil is so expensive or How ships unload waste). For the most part, it appears that Business Insider produces some quality episodes that really go into great detail about the story. The episodes always seem to take a deep look from all perspectives when covering the story. A problem with the Business Insider weekly episodes is that the episodes are hard to find as they don’t just easily appear in your feed and they are too long for the younger audiences on Snapchat. Our team just doesn’t believe that a 17-year-old is going to watch a 10-minute video on why lobsters are so expensive. We think they need shorter episodes with some questions that appeal to younger audiences. Additionally, another issue with the Snapchat weekly episodes is that advertisements drown out the news stories. Nobody wants to sit through several ads, especially ones you can’t skip through, to watch a longer news story.
Business Insider could really improve by shortening episodes, creating educational news questions that attract younger audiences, decreasing ads, and making their news platform easier to discover.
CBC News has 902.1k subscribers on Snapchat. They produce stories each day on what’s going on in the world. Their stories are either breaking news or news that needs to be discussed and shown. In terms of their Snapchat story breakdown, they use intriguing photos and videos. CBC News also includes the “swipe up” tab for articles, videos, and quizzes. Our team also noticed that there is movement in their photos, which makes them interactive and incorporate in the photograph to make the story more engaging.
The CBC News Snapchat team needs to work on timing and pace; they also need to work on their background noise as the music used in the examples isn’t very up-tempo or interesting. To fix that problem, we think they should include a voiceover to tell/explain the news rather than the viewer just reading what’s on the screen. When it comes to Snapchat, their Snapchat team needs to understand who the viewers are and how they can make it more exciting.
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal has 1.1 million subscribers on Snapchat, making it the news outlet with the most subscribers out of all the outlets covered here. It produces an episode every weekday focusing on one popular story, usually pertaining to breaking global news, financial and markets coverage — the typical coverage that Wall Street Journal is known for.
Our team thinks focusing on one key and popular story per episode works well for the Snapchat format. It allows for a deeper focus on one particular story, such as an episode they made about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Journal also mostly utilizes video stories more than infographic-style stories, which is more cohesive with the visual nature of Snapchat. In addition to the main story focus, they add a swipe-up feature to dive further into the story and read it on their site.
What doesn’t necessarily work well with their brand specifically are the random clickbait titles and emojis they’ll use from time to time. While it’s understandable to want to lean into the clickbaity nature of the platform to try and attract a younger audience, this specific approach doesn’t necessarily match the Wall Street Journal as a brand, and it’s a bit off-putting. The Journal should keep in mind their personal brand and try to stick to that for the sake of consistency.
Our Team’s Overall Takeaways
Vice News: Vice World should try to move away from reposting its content in Snapchat. Though the videos are produced well and the content is intriguing, it can, at times, get repetitive. It shows a lack of effort and thought towards viewers’ experience, specifically via Snapchat. Utilizing Snap maps, and potential live stories through that medium could be one way for Vice to keep content fresh.
CBC News: Including a voiceover could take CBC News’ content to the next level. With minimal background noise, the content risks losing the viewers’ interest. One other area where CBC was slightly lacking was pacing when it came to stories. An adjustment on pacing, given the type of story: feature-driven vs. breaking news, would help tremendously. The publication does however do a nice job with visuals and movements which saves the content slightly.
Wall Street Journal: WSJ does understand the Snapchat platform well. They trend very visual and avoid overly-wordy posts on what is a visual platform. Yet, while they do cater to the app, their clickbait-lite titles and emoji use are a bit of a shock. It’s a departure from the hard-news publication we know WSJ to be. It would be nice to see them stay more in line with the rest of the outlet’s platforms.
Business Insider: Business Insider produces a series of weekly Snapchat episodes that go into great detail on engaging topics. However, these stories might not be the best for Snapchat. The app has a plethora of advertisements in between the 10-second snaps that greatly interrupt the flow and risk losing viewers’ attention. This isn’t a Business Insider problem, rather a Snapchat problem. But it does beg the question of whether Business Insider is taking these things into consideration when content planning.
For some reason, Medium wouldn’t let me upload any of the screen recordings our group took from within our presentation.