Could Snapchat Spawn the Rebirth of Traditional Journalistic Values?

Posted by: Greg Vodicka

The Content Excellence® play

For the past two years, Snapchat has dominated the Content Excellence® landscape, allowing brands to personally connect with consumers in a friendly, informal way. The launch of the Discover feature proved that Snapchat plans to be a powerhouse content provider.IMG_7540

Discover allows publishers to share their content in a snackable manner that millennials have grown to appreciate. Quick, digestible content is the media play of the future. This new feature is also creating a space for older outlets to connect with the powerful younger millennial audience that doesn’t often connect with traditional media. Snapchat also plans to publish original content of their own noting their intrinsic ability to engage with this moving target of content consumers.

These changes may prove to be a pair of aces in Snapchat’s hand as they play with likes of other top millennial content publishers like Mashable, Huffington Post, UpWorthy and Elite Daily.

Not unlike other digital media providers, Snapchat is quickly working towards inventing innovative ways to deliver original content to users, not to mention make money from it. As traditional media outlets struggle to keep advertisers in their Rolodex, Snapchat’s list of anxious publishers and marketers will surely grow.

Snapchat stepping away from the “social media” title

Considering the polarization that exists from those who share content on Fecebook’s Newfeed, we must acknowledge that the relative percentage of users posting and sharing is not an accurate representation of the general population (or even of one’s network of friends). Have you ever noticed that someone you barely talk to is always on your newsfeed? Many of the “fringe” users we see on our feeds are there because the content they are consuming is trending.  Therefore, assumedly, it is representative of the mass opinion.

The problem with social media companies is that they tell us what to read based on an algorithm of likes, shares, clicks, views, etc. which equates to overall relevance. However, Snapchat is quick to say that it does not plan to live in the social media space. This suggests that the content published on Discover will be curated by editorial boards that will determine what is most relevant to their audience.

Could this be the resurrection of traditional journalistic values and the rebirth of an editorial board with less emphasis on popularity determined by clicks?

For Snapchat’s media partners, the obvious next step is to start selling advertising through content published on Discover (the profits of which will likely be shared with Snapchat).  However, it’s fair to assume that Snapchat will likely aim to reach a critical mass of users engaging with the Discover platform before attempting to introduce ads. We can also expect that Snapchat will have a uniquely designed strategy for incorporating advertising so it feels authentic to the platform. While this may limit the range of marketing that aligns with Snapchat, it will certainly not limit the engagement value for those marketing messages that fit the mold.

A conflicting vision

IMG_7542While media companies like CNN hope Snapchat users get hooked on their published content on Discover, Snapchat has conflicting ambitions aiming to maintain their ownership of user engagement through original content specifically geared towards the Snapchat fans that have awarded them this success story.

Will Snapchat’s original content platform make a move to compete with the mammoth publishing houses that they’ve recently invited to the Discover game?

The content disruptor is holding its cards close now but we can expect they will they’ll continue to place bigger bets in the coming months.

Photos via Flickr: Maurizio Pesce

About Greg Vodicka

Greg is the Strategic Growth Director at Barkley and one of the founding members of the FutureCast team. He believes that we can no longer rely simply on trends and insights to be indicative of...See Greg's full bio.

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