This morning (Australian time) Snapchat updated their app to include "Snapchat Discover". I found out at 7am thanks to a couple of my “snap” friends while checking my “Snapchat Friends Feed” aka “Stories”. A few people had said they don't really like the new update, or the new changes (in not quite so many words). Since working in online marketing I've found most people are adverse to change on modern social media platforms, interestingly Google with their minimalist design handle this best which I've previously written about. Either way this most recent Snapchat update is fairly subtle in terms of navigational change, although it’s the biggest change on Snapchat I've ever seen since I started to use the app and apparently it’s the biggest change to Snapchat since Stories were released in August 2014.
So what are the Snapchat updates?Snapchat marketing is smart, really smart. They don't publish much detail about their product and its updates, if you look at their blog it’s short and sweet, forcing you to jump straight into the action and get hands-on with the app, whether this is done on purpose, I'm not sure, but I really like this tactic and think it helps with the entire learning and discovery process. Navigation around the app (once you're used to it) is intuitive, quick and simple which contributes to the growth of the Snapchat community, once you've "got it" it's easy. What I find awesome about the company and it's growth is that they're using the Gary Vaynerchuk philosophy. [quote align="left" name="Gary Vaynerchuck"]Try not to convert anyone[/quote] Don’t waste time trying to convert the non-believers, the people who don't like what you're doing, don't waste time trying to sell them to the app. Simply cater to the people who “get it”, the people that have already bought into the idea, who love what you do and they'll sell it for you. The fact is the Snapchat ship is already sailing and the numbers speak for themselves:
The platform is growing like crazy and to cap it off, being offered $3 Billion by Facebook to sell to Facebook is enough (for me) to confirm its value. So… onto Discover, the primary new feature of the Snapchat app.
What is Snapchat Discover?Snapchat Discover or “video magazines” are shown when you swipe right in the app to access your friends “Stories”. Click on the small purple circle in the top right side of your phone and you're in. These “video magazines” appear as bubbles and can be navigated through your phone with ease, Snapchat is working with ten media partners, including, MTV, CNN, ESPN, and National Geographic so there's a range of content for everyone.
Smooth As Silk.Even on the Australian 3G connection I had on my way to work there was no lag, the videos were clear and there was no buffering. I’m not sure of the technology used but in short, Snapchat have absolutely nailed video on mobile. As Casey Neistat put it “it’s about giving people an easy way to tell a story” and Snapchat have done just that. Snapchat Discover allows you to view stories from different editorial teams giving you a story via a different media outlet (apparently updating every 24 hours). If you'd like to read, or see more on that specific story you simply scroll down to see a trailer, read more about the news item or watch whatever video or media is shown, again, quick, simple and easy to consume in a clean, intuitive design. Personally I think this is a step in the right direction and clearly a way Snapchat can begin to seriously monetize the app and their business (on top of Snapchat ads released in October 2014). It’s a quick and easy way to consume media and news on the go via your mobile, and for this reason I think it’s the future of mobile media consumption (in some shape or form).
Keeping it real.It’s great to see that Snapchat haven't rammed this new update down our throats from within the app. Okay they've done an intro and some self-promotion in the app, but they've not messed too much with the overall layout or app design, a la Facebook. They’ve kept your friends personal stories in front of the "Discover" section, which they could have easily moved or changed, so kudos for that Snapchat, thumbs up! So until this point that’s everything Snapchat has added to the new app, but what have they taken away?
Best Friends.All articles I've read today review the new features of the app, including an “add new friend QR code scan functionality” (see "Snapchats Secret New Badge" below), however, what’s interesting to me is that Snapchat seem to have removed a precarious feature... The public "Best Friends" section. I've been single since using Snapchat (no, that’s not the reason for starting to use it) but from what I gather this “Best Friends” section is quite a prominent feature to many disgruntled girlfriends and boyfriends out there in Snapchat world.
1The best friend option seems to have vanished in the new iteration of the Snapchat App, let me know if I'm wrong as the option to choose the number of best friends displayed is still available to adjust in the apps settings:
Personally I feel this is a sensible move for the most part, no one I know can actually explain to me how the best friends ratings worked. I think it was how many times you screenshot your friends "Snaps" plus how many "Snaps" you'd sent one another? However, the "Best Friends" main purpose was “relationship destroyer”, I'd heard of it ending, or at least upsetting a couple of relationships, which is understandable if your Boyfriend is suddenly “Best Friends” with "BigJuggsXXX". Perhaps this is a step away from Snapchat's original “sexting” roots, although let’s be honest, the early adopters and more tech savvy people amongst us already know this is not solely what this video messaging app is for. It’s a new smoother way to communicate, it’s the “mobile video” that 2013 claimed to be, finally coming to fruition and it’s been done amazingly well.
Update - Best Friends Coming Back!?According to Even Spiegel (Snapchat creator) some "high profile" Snapchat users wanted to keep their usernames private, so this was the reason for removing the public "Best Friends" feature, so... it might be back:
We'll bring back BFs soon. A few higher-profile friends wanted to keep their usernames private - we'll come up with a better way to do that. — Evan Spiegel (@evanspiegel) January 27, 2015I'm unsure of this decision, personally think it'll be best left out to encourage growth (and less Snapchat crumbled relationships).