Snapchat was one of the first social media apps to build a core product leveraging the growing desire for private, temporal sharing. Yet as the app evolved and grew over the past several years, the company added a feature called “Live Stories”, a curated collection of community-generated content around specific locations and events that is publicly viewable for 24 hours. In the company’s own words, “The end result is a Story told from a community perspective with lots of different points view.”
With this innovative feature Snapchat has made a huge step in solving a problem that to date has plagued other social media apps and sites: tons of users post pictures and videos that in theory would have broad public appeal, yet no app has compiled and featured all of this content in a way that was easily discoverable and digestible. Take, for example, a music festival like Coachella. It’s likely safe to assume that over the course of the weekend that are hundreds of thousands if not millions of pieces of user-generated content uploaded to social media sites from fans on the ground. Yet for those who are unable to attend, there was no convenient way to consume all of this crowdsourced media and get a real-time taste of what was happening at the event. Beyond music festivals, this Live Story model has obvious uses with a multitude of other situations, from sports games and concerts to large community events and college campuses.
The app has smartly included a gamification element to incentivize participation, whereby users who post to a certain story can see the number of people who have viewed that post. The number of views is then added to that user’s publicly-viewable “Snap Score”, which many take pride in as it demonstrates their overall dedication to the app and cleverness of their posts. Additionally, the app features a trophy case where users earn rewards for taking specific actions or reaching certain milestones.
A team of editors reviews all submitted stories and chooses only the best to include in a given story. While in theory Live Stories could scale to thousands of locations and events, this team of editors is likely the largest challenge to the further rollout of Live Stories. Since each piece of crowdsourced contented needs to be reviewed and vetted, the company must balance the number of editors required as the product grows with how wide a net they ideally could cast.
Value capture here is quite novel, as the company can work with both event organizers to monetize featured placement of event coverage, as well as advertisers who are keen to target viewers of event-specific content. And indeed in the time since Snapchat has introduced live stories, both Twitter and Instagram have recognized the value of this model and have introduced similar features on their own platforms.