Snapchat recently launched its “Discover” feature, and columnist Katy Keim explains why marketers should care.
Time to keep an eye on Snapchat’s “Discover.”
A couple weeks ago, Snapchat announced the launch of its new Discover content distribution platform. This signaled an interesting extension to Snapchat’s instant (and disappearing) photo- and video-sharing service.
More importantly (in my opinion), it serves as a confirmation that millennial (and younger) audiences want a new way to consume premium content.
But we’ve seen so many publishing platforms and been through these hype cycles before. Will this new capability resonate? Is this a new tool in our marketing toolkit?
Here’s what we know. First, the service is all about rapid delivery of premium content in 10-second teasers that consumers either choose to swipe up to see more or swipe left to see what else is available.
Second, this content is only accessible via the Discover “tab” within the Snapchat mobile app. Third, the content is ever-changing, with a distinct focus on timeliness.
Lastly, the test launch is limited to only a handful of premium publishers – attracting the likes of CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, and Yahoo! News.
Madonna dazzled at the Grammys with some scene-stealing fashion and a visually spectacular live performance of “Living to Love.” Her video debut of that song on Snapchat Discover just before the Grammys is equally noteworthy and has me thinking I want to Discover more.
Is Madonna on to something? Or was this an all-too-obvious attempt to be relevant to a younger audience? Whether or not the latter is true, this was an act of sheer brilliance in the wake of her new album being leaked well ahead of schedule.
Madonna’s team rode the wave of the zeitgeist and drew more attention to her new video than had she released it via more “traditional” means. She simultaneously widened Snapchat’s primarily young audience to other demographics.
After all, if you’re a die-hard Madonna fan, or at least someone who’s loved her music on and off as she took us on a journey of her various incarnations (I will admit, I fall into that camp), then the only way you could instantly see her new video was to download Snapchat, register for an account, and take a test drive of the Discover service. Smart move by everyone involved.
Why Marketers Should Care
So, should I as a marketer care? Is Discover an option for me? It’s likely too soon to tell, but here are a few observations about why this could be an important trend to follow:
1. Millennials Within Easy Reach
Everyone wants a piece of the younger, tech-savvy millennial audience. Now, thanks to Discover, established publishers and big brands – many with gradually aging audiences – have a unique opportunity to build credibility and loyalty with them in a contextually relevant way.
2. A New Content Model, Focused On Instant Engagement
Discover has publishers and brands re-thinking how to produce and package content for a consumer audience that is both time-poor and also cursed with a shrinking attention span, making the new measure of success being whether a piece of content can spark immediate interest and encourage deeper engagement, all within a matter of seconds.
3. Mobile At Its Very Core
Everything about Discover screams mobile – from its underlying platform to the swipe-and-tap user experience to the content itself. This is not only a sign of what’s to come with regard to next-gen mobile-first experiences, but also how adjacent services, like Discover and Swyft, organically emerge out of unexpected contexts (after all, Snapchat was originally just a rapid-fire photo- and video-messaging app).
Although this is the newest and shiniest object in our content-saturated lives, no thanks in part to Madonna, Snapchat’s Discover service is not the only channel that can and should be tapped for content distribution.
Each medium you use to distribute content is valuable in its own way and attracts its own unique audience. Just because something is new does not necessarily mean that it’s better for your brand or for your audience. But if it’s a good fit for your brand and for the kinds of content your brand produces, it’s certainly worthy of your consideration.
But I’ll leave you with this: while Discover may be the latest fad in content distribution, we can’t forget that, at the end of the day, consumers want to engage, converse, and participate with your brand – they don’t simply want to passively ingest. Will Discover solve for this as well? Only time will tell…