Snapchat rolls out Search for Stories to focus on audience engagement

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Snapchat has just revealed Search for Stories, which allows users to search through a wealth of user-generated content. It’s quite a shift for the company, moving away from a 24-hour limited visibility model to an approach that aims to engage audiences for a longer time. The move likely follows Snap Inc.’s recent IPO.

Stories submitted to Our Stories may be visible for different lengths of time, depending on how fast certain topics receive content.

For now, only select US cities will get to use Our Stories. Snapchat then plans to index text and visuals using a built algorithm to group content into themes. The company plans to have over a million themes ready.

In addition, Snapchat is steering clear of adverts or sponsored features such as geofilters or lenses. It seems it is testing the ground and hopes to get more engagement by staying away from ads – for now. Ultimately, adverts are likely to follow.

Content will include video, which means that users will get to search premium content from HBO and other partnering network channels. This adds a whole new dimension to Snapchat and huge potential for audience engagement. It all feels a bit like a mobile version of YouTube with more sharing and communication power. However, Snapchat has the distinct advantage of seeing content uploaded instantly. Some of this content can be rather rough, but this lends a unique angle to Snapchat Our Stories.

By allowing users to add their comments to content instantly, Our Stories also enables real-time feedback. This makes it solid competition to Facebook Live Videos, which publishers have been using to boost media content recently.

If Our Stories succeeds, it has huge potential not just for publishers, but also premium content providers and of course advertisers. In addition, Snapchat’s young audience makes it an interesting demographic to target.