- Snapchat will let users share Stories — videos and photos strung together in collages on the messaging platform that disappear after 24 hours — on the web for the first time, The Verge reported. Stories will also be shareable via text message and email through a web link for those who have not downloaded the app.
- The move is intended to spark growth for an app that has struggled to attract new users and drive revenue since going public in March last year by enabling consumers who haven't downloaded it to go to a new desktop web viewer on Snapchat.com. Only Official Stories — which are those created by media, entertainment and other verified accounts — as well as Our Stories and Search Stories will be shareable outside the app, The Verge said.
The news comes as Snapchat is in the midst of a considerable app redesign that puts user-generated content in a separate news feed from that of publishers. The shareable Stories feature goes into effect Wednesday for those who already have the redesigned Snapchat, CNBC reported, and will see a broader launch in the coming weeks.
With the news, Snapchat is abandoning one of the features that made it both distinctive and frequently frustrating for some publishers and users: its insularity. It's a strong signal that parent company Snap, once viewed as stubborn against change, is now eager to spark a turnaround by any means necessary following three consecutive quarters of user growth and revenue that have disappointed analysts and marketers who once viewed the company as a social media innovator and even a potential third major digital advertising player to challenge the duopoly of Facebook and Google.
With a growing number of social media platforms to chose from, Snapchat has developed a reputation as one of the most personal, enabling brands to create unique experiences for a specific audience. With some content now able to reach a wider audience, the risk for Snapchat is that it could lose its luster of exclusivity for users and businesses. However, being able to share Stories outside of the app could also pique the interest of those who never downloaded it or who have been put off by a UX that's proved confusing to newcomers in the past. Snap may see the move as necessary given that Facebook's Instagram Stories — which directly cribs from Snapchat’s product down to the name — has stolen some of Snap's thunder and frequently been cited by investors as a pain point for the company.
With the app redesign, announced during a third-quarter earnings report in November, Snapchat appeared to pose a direct challenge to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and even Google by pivoting away from algorithm-driven content sorting with a more curated, in-house approach. The split-feed UX overhaul, however, has not been well-received from early adopters in the U.K., Canada and Australia thus far, with 83% of user reviews in the App Store being negative thus far with one- or two-star ratings, TechCrunch said earlier this month.