Snapchat: The New Media Giant

After a few days of tinkering with the new Snapchat’s new Discover feature, I’ve come to a conclusion: this update has turned the app into the most innovative in social media history.

When Snapchat first came on the scene (I believe it was around the fall of my freshman year), I didn’t pay much attention to it. I knew a bunch of people who used it, but I didn’t really see the point of an app whose sole purpose was to send pictures that disappeared after ten seconds. I didn’t download it for a while, and even when I did, I rarely used it and definitely didn’t foresee it experiencing any type of longevity in the social media world.

Fast forward a couple of years, and here we are. Discover has arrived, and with it, Snapchat seems to have established itself as a social media giant. Any concerns about its staying power are gone – this new feature is simply revolutionary; there’s no other way to put it. Snapchat has partnered with 12 different media outlets – including CNN, ESPN and National Geographic – that are going to be publishing their own content on the app every 24 hours.

One of my favorite things about the new feature is something Joshua Benton highlighted in his blog post about Discover: it has been developed specifically for mobile devices. Often times when I’m on my phone and I open links to an article, video, etc., the content from some websites or outlets is a bit difficult to navigate on my phone. I’ll have to zoom in some places to see the text, or try to tap around four or 5 times to try and select a link in small font.

The great thing about Discover is that each and every story is designed for a smartphone (likely for a tablet as well, though I haven’t used the app on one of those yet). The content is all portrait-oriented, and it’s very easy to navigate around the app and switch to landscape orientation for videos and such if you so choose.

I’m seeing absolutely massive potential for Snapchat to continue to grow and expand within the social media world. It’s absolutely fascinating to me that an app that was originally just for sending goofy selfies to your friends has evolved into a living, breathing source of content that is updated every day with current headlines and new information.

There’s no question Snapchat’s Discover feature has made it easier for people to access news and current events by presenting it more conveniently than ever. Despite this, the question still remains as to whether people will actually utilize this feature in order to inject more content into their media diets. We discussed this in class, and I’m pretty sure I raised this point then, but in my opinion, I believe it is still up to us to seek out news. With Discover, the content is right there for us to access, just a couple of taps away. But I’m not sure if I can see people (especially millennials) choosing to look at the daily CNN story over scrolling through their Twitter and Instagram feeds.

One thing is for certain, though – Snapchat has established itself as a media giant, and it’s only going to continue to grow. I can easily see those 12 partners turning into 20+ in a matter of months. Everyone is going to want to get their hands on an opportunity to establish themselves in a space that exists at the touch of an entire generation’s fingertips.

Back in September, Snapchat was valued at $10 billion. With the implementation of the Discover feature, I would not be surprised at all to see that number rise into the $100 billion range. And I’ll be able to say I knew it when it was just a little old picture sending app.

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