Is Snapchat’s new ‘Discover’ feature a threat to Facebook and Twitter?

Social media hasn’t seen a momentous shake-up in a while, but the news that Snapchat recently released their ‘Discover’ feature could see significant changes in the world of social. Facebook and Twitter, long seen as being the go-to social networks for breaking news, are likely to sit up and take notice of Snapchat’s new feature, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

What makes Snapchat’s new feature all the more interesting is the fact that Snapchat’s founders turned down a $3billion acquisition offer from Facebook in November 2013, when the company was still in its infancy and had been valued at $860million just six months previously. This tells you two things: Mark Zuckerberg’s crew clearly saw the potential in the app, and Snapchat’s owners had plans in store after all.

There were people who thought that the photo-sharing app would have died a death by now, and that they were insane by turning down the offer. It looks to have been a masterstroke now, and the fact that the company was recently valued at around $10billion supports this. If the Discover feature works out the way it has the potential to do – and continues to grow – Facebook and Twitter could see more of their audience flocking to Snapchat, now that it covers ground that they previously owned without challenge from anyone other than themselves (and to a lesser extent Google+).

Taking a Look at the Discover Feature

According to Snapchat’s very own blog, Discover is “Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams. It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first.”

What is even more interesting is the next sentence in that blog post:
“This is not social media.”

Check out the 57 second video that accompanied the release of the Discover feature on 27th January 2015. You can see where Snapchat are going with the feature, and it is a great idea. People are consuming hundreds of millions of hours of footage across a multitude of different websites, social media channels and video sharing sites, and Discover looks likely to bring all of that to one place.

So far, there are 12 media channels available on Discover (including Snapchat’s own channel), including CNN, National Geographic, Food Network, Daily Mail, ESPN, People and more. Check out the full interface here. BuzzFeed were supposed to be included on that list, but the deal broke down in October 2014, citing the classic reason of “creative differences” usually rolled out after a famous actor storms off a film set.

Have Snapchat stolen a march over Facebook and Twitter?

Due to Facebook and Twitter having over 1.5 billion users between them, it is doubtful that Snapchat are going to bring about their downfall. What the Discover feature achieves is showing media companies a new and effective way of communicating their message to a younger audience.

The Daily Mail, long seen as the grumpy old Uncle of the newspaper world, are a great example of this. They will now find a teenage and twenty-something audience they might have struggled to reach otherwise. When you consider that the majority of Snapchat’s users are said to be female and aged between 13 and 25, it shows that this deal is an extremely shrewd move for them, and you can expect others to take note and make their moves into this arena down the road.

It is less about beating Facebook and Twitter then, and more about giving media companies an alternative outlet for their news and advertising needs, and this can only be a good thing. Keep an eye out on the news as it develops. You can guarantee that there will be changes, updates, new competition, arguments and glitches along the way. It’s going to be a fun 2015 for Snapchat, social media and the online media in general.


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