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Is Snapchat the New Hashtag?

It seems like everyone is at SXSW this week. Influencers, marketers, foodies — even a Tinder robot is there.

But how is everyone not present following along? Snapchat, obviously. Not to say that the days of obsessively following hashtags are over… but, if you really want to feel like you’re somewhere, if you really want to hear and see what it’s like to be a part of an experience like SXSW, Snapchat is where you need to be.

Appeasing the senses

Snapchat first came on our radar as the place where friends (read: preteens) could send each other photos that instantly deleted after 10 seconds. You could get creative and draw on your photo, maybe add some text, perhaps add an emoticon if you were feeling particularly outgoing. Some people dissed the platform and a lot of high schoolers got in trouble from it, but then — as is the natural progression of every platform initially co-opted by tweens — brands started joining.

Taco Bell was an early adopter. The fast-food chain was one of the first to recognize the fully engaged audience that Snapchat offers brands. They’re currently boosting over 200,000 followers and see 90 percent of those followers viewing their content. 2015-03-18 16-15-13

Snapchat evolves

Snapchat has since evolved to offer three different interfaces:

Home Feed

The original feed enables the user to send messages to one or multiple friends, which appear in a list of personally received snaps. These are not public and can only be played once (one replay is allowed per day). You can also swipe left to open an instantly deleting text option, allowing you to send messages with or without photos.




The second interface, the Stories tab, is where brands thrive. On Snapchat’s Stories tab, brands post 10-second videos or images, flipbook style, that live for 24 hours.  After that, the branded content is as gone as Rocketdogs and butterfly clips.




The third interface, the newly released Discover tool, is the most exciting for brands. Not only does it give users the power — simply swipe left if you’re not into the content — but it also enables brands to create adjacent content. Unlike the original Snapchat interface, users can swipe left or right for new content (each brand can create up to eight separate pieces of content daily) and swipe up for a more in-depth view that often includes listicles, insightful editorial pieces or videos. Discovery looks like a digital magazine and delivers content like never before.


Twelve brands (including Snapchat) currently use the platform to deliver daily editions consisting of video, photography and text. In true Snapchat fashion, editions are updated every 24 hours and then disappear forever. Currently CNN, Food Network, Cosmopolitan, Comedy Central, National Geographic, ESPN, People, Warner Music, Daily Mail, Yahoo News and Vice participate.

Thus far, brands on Snapchat have stayed on-brand with the content they’re offering their audiences; for example Katie Couric conducts interviews for Yahoo, Cosmo often features funny videos and Beyonce quotes and Food Network posts deep-hitting articles like, “What Makes Popcorn Pop?” The most notable use of the platform was when Vice founder Shane Smith used Discover to air his interview with President Barack Obama.

See the sights without the jet lag

Beyond branded content, the social platform also capitalizes on popular events and cultural trends such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the X Games and Paris Fashion Week. The platform curates a combination of behind-the-scenes user snaps that offer a next-best experience and are available on the Stories feed of everyone using the platform.

(Full disclosure: Since Snapchat prides itself on its nonsaving video platform, these are not 100 percent accurate views of the Stories tab, but rather a accumulation of great snap content from Paris Fashion Week and the 2015 Aspen X Games.)



Jaclyn Freedman

About Jaclyn

Community manager, digital marketing enthusiast, rescue dog lover, oversharing blogger, on a quest to see the world.

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