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The allure of Snapchat Discover has newspapers migrating en masse

Growing a Snapchat Discover cohort within a newsroom could allow publications to experiment with more granular coverage on the platform, which is designed to be adjacent to the daily updates from friends that users check for on their own feeds. Whether Snapchat Discover as an outlet will go the way of RSS will largely be determined on how appetizing ad packages are for marketers looking to fund the platform.

?News content in general is clearly a growth area for Snapchat, and it's a safe bet that more and more news organizations will embrace Discover as a new delivery method for their news product,? said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT, New York. ?One key challenge is tailoring that news product to Snapchat: early adopters like WSJ quickly learned that simply porting content from the site or app isn't not an workable approach. 

?Snapchat has a special feel, and news organizations need to embrace that vibe with an all-in approach to Snapchat if they expect to win viewers,? he said. ?For most companies, this will involve creating Snapchat-focused content teams who pay attention to quantity, frequency, and creative presentation. 

?Brand persona is also mission-critical on Snapchat; it doesn't mean a brand has to have existing ?cool cred? or youth appeal to do well on Snapchat, but it does mean any news organization that embraces the platform needs to develop a strong Snapchat voice and style, which should be informed by people for whom Snapchat is a native language.?

Quick adoption
Every day, Snapchat touts a larger unique audience that marketers and publications alike have been chomping at the bit to have a presence on. The platform's appeal lies in that it hosts an irreproducible audience ? an audience that all consume a particular type of media on only that platform.

Digital media companies such as Buzzfeed were quick to flock to Discover as soon as the feature debuted in January of 2015. Initially, the platform was primarily used to broadcast entertaining video content such as Tastemade?s popular recipe content.

Publications with an analytical bent soon followed, including Ezra Klein?s Vox, which had a significant weekday presence on the platform in its early months before tapering off its commitment to Discover to including only special events, such as the presidential election.

Other publications that joined tended to focus on larger feature content encompassing the majority of a Story, a tactic that The Economist tends to follow, as does The Wall Street Journal, which became the first American newspaper to publish on the platform in January of last year. The Journal hews toward piecing content together on the platform to tell larger stories, leaving hard news reportage as a job for the publication?s Twitter account.

Courtesy of WSJ on Snapchat Discover

The relegation of breaking news coverage to Twitter is a popular choice among prestige news publications, but The Washington Post may be the first pub to buck the trend after announcing its commitment to begin publishing updates on Discover multiple times a day (see story).

The news comes at a time when the New York Times also announced its intentions for Discover, resulting in the three most influential nationally-circulated newspapers (The Times, WSJ and WaPo) all now competing for the largely-millennial and Generation X attentions that peruse Snapchat (see story). 

?It is a matter of staying relevant and top-of-mind for a millennial generation,? said Thomas Cilius, CEO of Snaplytics. ?They do not spend hours and hours on the websites of the newspapers, but instead get most of their news from shares on social media. 

?With Discover on Snapchat, publications can reach the demographic and create a top-of-mind awareness for their brand and values ? my personal belief is that will pay off handsomely in the future if the millennials decide to subscribe to a publication.?

Snapchat Discover
Despite the excursions of well-known pubs onto the platform, editorial presence on Discover has not hit the critical mass to be considered a staple of journalism just yet. But the upside is enough to weigh on the mind of many a digital manager in news: If nothing else, a massive cohort of the application?s millions of users will have their first encounter with a prestige publication on Snapchat Discover. 

Courtesy of The Washington Post on Snapchat Discover

?Raw breaking news may become more common on Snapchat, but Snapchat is unlikely to unseat Google News, Twitter, or news companies' dedicated apps as the place for pure breaking headlines,? Mr. McNally said. ?Snapchat news will likely always need a higher degree of curation and a more considered creative layer than raw headlines, which doesn't mean that Snapchat can't be a place for timely news. 

?News organizations will see the most Snapchat success when blending topical headlines with more creatively inspired and curated content, and they shouldn't treat Snapchat as one more receptacle for their existing syndicated content.?