Snapchat, the ephemeral content app fronted by a ghost-type character named 'Ghostface Chillah', has made a big announcement in regards to accessing and sharing content from publishing partners on the app. From today, media partners will be able to promote their channels on Snapchat via deep links - which means publishers will be able to link to their Snapchat content direct from one app to another, making it easier to promote, share and (at least in some regard) measure the performance of Snapchat content.
Here's how it works:
As you can see from the above sequence, Snapchat publishing partners will now be able to add a link to their Snapchat content on, for example, Twitter or Facebook. When clicked, the user is then given the option (image 2) to either open the content in Snapchat or download Snapchat, if they haven't already. There's also a Snapcode linking direct to the content - Snapchat users can take a snap of the code, to be taken to it, or they can save the code as a screenshot to view at another time.
On desktop, if you click a link to Snapchat content, you're taken to a page like this, with the relevant Snapcode front and center.
Once you do either use the Snapcode or open the content in Snapchat, you're taken direct to the relevant content - as per image 3. As it's only early in the deployment of the new option, there's no word, as yet, on what happens when you click on an expired link - whether you're referred to an error screen or another option - and this will be a relevant consideration considering the short lifespan of Snapchat content.
The process of linking direct to content within an app is called 'deep linking' which, in essence, refers to any link that directs a user past the home page of a website or app to content inside of it.
And while it may seem, on the face of it, like a minor addition, the change is actually a significant step for Snapchat, and may flag future promotion and reach options for Snapchat content.
Without definitive numbers, it's difficult to say exactly how well Snapchat's Discover option is performing. While the app, overall, is reportedly seeing more than 100 million daily active users, how many of those users are venturing over into the Discover tab is less clear. Back in August, Snapchat reported that more than 60 million people check out the U.S. and international versions of Discover each month, and that Discover views had rebounded from a sharp drop-off seen earlier in the year, which Snapchat was able to fix by revising Discover's design, making the content more easily accessible. Supporting this, both BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan have reported great results from their Discover channels - Cosmopolitan has said it's getting three million readers a day on Discover, while BuzzFeed reported that a massive 21% of all BuzzFeed content views came from Snapchat in August 2015, which was their first full month on Discover.
But whether they're seeing great readership on Discover or not, one thing that none of the 16 publishers on Discover are going to turn away from is opportunity for more promotion - by enabling partner brands to generate more interest and attract more readers to their Snapchat content, it'll likely give them even more reason to post more often to the app. And given many of them have dedicated teams creating unique Snapchat content, every day, the ability to bring more eyeballs back to the app will be a very welcome addition, and one which will help them showcase the great, creative work their teams are doing within Snapchat's walls.
In addition to this, the ability to link back to Snapchat content will give Snapchat more exposure overall - while Snapchat's massively popular among younger users, there are still many who don't see the appeal or get how the app works. Many likely still view Snapchat as the app where kids share naked photos or post edited selfies with hand-drawn, cartoonish features on top. And definitely, Snapchat is a place where those things happen, but there's also a lot of great, in depth content on the platform that a huge audience of people are missing out on. By making it easier to find, and by posting exclusive content which utilizes Snapchat's unique presentation features, the new option has the potential to expose Snapchat content to a greatly expanded audience.
And taking it a step further, what if Snapchat were to start offering similar tools to regular users, or give users new options to keep their snaps active for longer to enable links back to their best Snapchat content? It might go against the traditional ethos of Snapchat, being that the content disappears, but if the users were given control, and creators were given a more permanent way to showcase their best work, this might be a future content option for Snapchat, and one which could boost audience engagement and viewership figures over time.
Of course, that's entirely speculation, there's been no suggestion that Snapchat would consider anything of the sort, but the addition of deep linking ability certainly opens up new avenues and options for the platform, and is definitely a great move in the right direction for the app.
If you're interested in seeing how the new links work, search for "snapchat.com' on Twitter or Facebook to locate direct links.