Snapchat senses that it may be on the downward spiral. It recognises that in the wake of its user stagnation, Facebook has found a formula to engage with users that has counteracted the threat that Snapchat once posed. Snapchat is therefor reinventing itself with a redesign that will differentiate it from Facebook and Instagram. The redesign will have a huge effect on brands, as there will be an emphasis on a separation between real people and professional content creators.
The redesign will look to tackle the downside of the way in which in recent years, social posts have merged with news articles on many platforms, causing social platforms to become less about communicating and more about sharing fake news. To eradicate this, the new Snapchat design will split content into two parts. On the left side of the page will be stories from the user’s friends and to the right will be a collection of carefully curated news stories. Stories are personalised algorithmically.
This will affect brands using Snapchat in a variety of ways; firstly the redesign could be hugely positive. Branded content will potentially stand out more when repositioned away from the huge onslaught of social content. The news stories and branded content are collated and stored in a section called “Discover”, but on the other hand, there is no guarantee users will want to discover these stories. The redesign will answer once and for all what users main motives are for using Snapchat. Are users purely on Snapchat to engage with their contacts stories, if so they will bypass branded content in the discover section, or are users diversifying their Social Media habits? Are they happy to engage with branded content and social stories separately? The new layout will challenge brands to be much more creative with their content, no-one will just automatically encounter their stories, users will have to look for them based on initial eye-catching content.
The split between news stories and friends stories will challenge brands to address media and messaging at the same time, it will really test the creative abilities of brands to be engaging and exciting in their messaging.
One way of sidestepping the pressure brands will feel to produce engaging content, a task they may not feel they are up to, is to shift their focus onto paid offerings, like sponsored lenses and filters as well as Promoted Story ads. This would, of course, be a winning scenario for Snapchat themselves, who make millions from brands buying these promotional vehicles. They have in the past been very successful, with the likes of Disney’s Go-filter and Taco Bell’s taco head filter, proving hugely popular.
However, paid ads will only interest brands, if Snapchat remains a Social Media heavyweight and that will depend heavily on the success of the redesign. The pressure is squarely on the shoulders of Snapchat to get this right as brands can quite easily focus their efforts and investments on other platforms should the app lose its shine.