What does Snapchat’s revamp mean for student marketers?
After weeks of speculation and anticipation, Snapchat yesterday unveiled details of their long-awaited app redesign, and if you use the channel, then you really need to get your head around it.
You can hear exactly what their revamp entails in this quick video – give it a watch, we’ll wait.
The big thing to take away is what Snapchat is calling ‘separating the social from the media’, which is a fancy way of saying they’re putting your friends on one side of the app, and brands and publishers on the other.
When you first open the app after these changes have taken effect, you won’t necessarily notice anything different; Snapchat will still open on the Camera (don’t forget, they see themselves as a camera company) and they’ll still be encouraging you to create.
The changes come when you start swiping.
Head to the left of your Camera and you will firmly be in the friend zone. This is where you’ll find those people who you follow and they follow you back.
Now, you’re probably thinking this isn’t much different to the current setup, and you’d be right. Post-revamp, this side will still be the place for instant messages and chats with your friends. However, the revamp will also see your friends’ stories shake it to the left and join the party.
Another big thing to note is the Friends tab will be controlled by an algorithm – the Best Friends algorithm in fact. As you’ve probably guessed, those folk you interact with more often will be at the top of the list.
Post-revamp, if you wander to the right of your camera, you’ll find yourself in the Discover section – again, so far, so much the same.
But, with your friends taken out of the mix from this section, Discover is now all about brands and publishers – with those you already follow at the top, followed by others you might be interested in below.
Like with the Friends page, Snapchat is rolling out an algorithm to the Discover tab too, which sounds like it will take a while to click into gear but should still be noted.
Not only that, but Snapchat has also promised some tools to help creators profit from their work on the platform. Well, sort of anyway – they just haven’t bothered with any of the details just yet.
Why has Snapchat done this?
It’s difficult to underestimate how important this revamp is for Snapchat – they’ve had a pretty tough year and a bit since Instagram copied Snapchat’s homework and launched their own version of Stories.
Where Snapchat has continued to be relevant has been for friends communicating with each other, so this revamp puts relationships at its core.
Here they are explaining the changes in their own words:
“While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting Internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side-effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves.”
By actively splitting up the brands you follow from your friends list, Snapchat suddenly has a point of difference again – well, at least until Facebook rolls out their separate news feed for Pages that they’ve been testing recently. Regardless of how much Facebook tries to deny plans for a wider rollout, how many of us actually believe them?
What does this mean for my institution’s account?
In short, you’ve got a decision to make.
The knee-jerk reaction might be that this revamp will kill the Discover tab; if your friends’ stories aren’t appearing there anymore, just how likely are you to swipe in that direction?
Of course, the counter-argument is that this revamp will give the Discover tab a greater purpose and audiences will soon train themselves to go there to consume and explore content from brands and publishers and not worry about trying to track down stuff from their friends.
That behavioural change is a good starting point; you’ll potentially have an audience more willing to consume your content, so you’d better make sure you’re making the best content you can – especially with the arrival of the algorithm.
Your other option is to try and infiltrate the friend zone; if you follow back anyone who follows you, you’ll be transported to the other side of the app and find yourself squished in among people’s Friends list.
Now, while this might sound like the preferred option – after all, we want people to see us as a friend, rather than a brand, right? – there is one factor here that should make you stop and think.
The new Friends list will be ranked by an algorithm. If you want to be top of the friend zone you’re going to have to interact with people.
Just think – you’ll be competing with irreverent selfie swapping, flaming hot Snap streaks and the fact everyone else in that list will actually be a human being with whom they have some sort of real relationship.
Put simply, winning the friend zone is going to be hard work – do you have the resources to do it?
Still, at least Snapchat feels like it will still be a place where organic content can flourish, as there are no indications of having to pay-to-play on the new discover tab.
Not yet, anyway.
What should I do next?
You’ve likely got a few weeks until the revamp is rolled out to everyone, so start thinking about how you want to approach the new Snapchat and get planning! If you want some help in that department then give us a shout, we’d love to help.