Why Snapchat Discover Works
Back in late January, Snapchat was updated, and in that update a new feature was launched. The feature in question is called Discover, and despite it’s name, apparently no one used it for a few months, according to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel.
By “no one used it”, I think Spiegel meant that only a couple million people tried it out, including myself. It just seems odd to me that few people used this brand new, awesome feature on an insanely popular app.
What Discover does is provide Snapchat users with curated content by a few media outlets, including ESPN, Daily Mail, Comedy Central, Vice, Food Network, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, CNN, and People Magazine (Buzzfeed and iHeartRadio have recently been added).
As you’d expect on an app, the content (with new content uploaded each day) is short and to the point; long-form writing isn’t meant for Snapchat. All of the content is also oriented vertically, so there’s no need to go through the hassle of turning off your rotation lock and hold your phone on it’s side.
You see, Snapchat totally nailed it here; every aspect of Discover is well thought out perfectly oriented towards the hundred million or so young people that use the app on a daily basis.
The content isn’t drastically long, so you don’t spend too much time on any one article; they’re rather short, for the most part. Most of us use the app in down time where we have a few free moments, and the content on Discover is definitely crafted around this idea.
With all of the content oriented vertically, users can just swipe, swipe, swipe through content, rather than having to poke around to find what you’re looking for; it’s all just there for you.
Snapchat knew it’s users didn’t want to have to learn anything new when getting used to Discover; that would only shy them away from the feature. Instead, they blended it in with the rest of the app; all you have to do is swipe and tap here and there, just like when you’re using Snapchat to take a selfie or video.
Discover could’ve been a failure. More than six months after it’s launch, Discover is alive and kicking, despite what CEO Spiegel might’ve thought.
Why wasn’t it a failure? Because Snapchat knew their users, knew their habits, likes and dislikes, and built a feature that required no new learning but brought in tons of content that any Snapchat user would consume.
Snapchat is opened when users have a second to spare, or when they have something to share. It’s not used for very long at one time, and users always hold their phone upright.
Discover has content made perfectly for that minute or two of down time; it’s very readable and easily digested. All of the content is oriented vertically, just like when users take a selfie.
When an app throws in a completely new feature, it usually requires some new learning, which can be frustrating at times. This throws off users and they could stop using the app because of this change.
Snapchat saw this happen all the time, maybe even on apps the employees use themselves, and realized that if they ever wanted to add a game-changing feature like Discover, they’d need to integrate it directly into how the app is already being used; vertically, and only for a minute or two at a time.
New features, no matter how great, can scare off users for a variety of reasons, usually centered around having to learn something new. Snapchat just created a brilliant, unexpected feature, and built it so it could be placed effortlessly into the lives of it’s users without really changing how the app is used.
This is why Discover works – it just settled itself into the app and waited for you to come check it out.