Research has shown that tweets with images generate significantly more engagement - up to 313% more, according to Twitter. It's a similar story at Facebook - Facebook posts with images get 2.3x more engagement than those without. In fact, content with images, overall, attracts around 94% more views than content without a visual element. Which makes perfect sense - our brains process images faster than text, it makes it easier to contextualize, etc.
And as such, today's Snapchat update to their Discover publisher channels is a smart move, and will no doubt lead to a significant boost for the option.
From today, when you log into Snapchat, your Stories page will look like this:
Pretty good looking huh? For comparison, the previous the Stories page (notably the Discover links) looked like this:
The new Discover options show you not only the publisher logo, but also a preview of the content on offer inside, which will no doubt get more people clicking through. The top bar of the new Discover gallery also scrolls by automatically to show you what else is on offer.
(Image via TechCrunch)
You can also see the new Live Stories presentation at the bottom of the above screenshot.
The presentation here is very similar to what you'll see if you swipe through to the full Discover section, with a range of content options highlighted in different boxes.
Again, for comparison, the previous Discover screen was:
You can see how the integration of new visual elements enhances the experience, and, as noted in the above stats on images, will no doubt lead to a significant jump in engagement for Discover content.
Thus far, usage data on Discover has been mixed. A recent poll conducted for Variety found that of those who have viewed Discover content, 44% do so on a daily basis, but when looked at on balance, and including those who've never viewed Discover content, that figure drops to 23% overall usage.
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 2015, which Snapchat was able to rectify by revising Discover's design, making the content more easily accessible. In addition to 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 are coming via Snapchat.
And given the recent reports on news room staffing, there must be something to it - Refinery29 has 10 employees working on content for their Discover channel, The Wall Street Journal has a five-person Discover team, and Fusion has 10 full and part-time Snapchat staffers.
The move to update Discover will obviously boost appeal and help these publishers get more readers to their Snapchat content. And that's crucial, both for the publishers and for Snapchat itself.
As we've noted previously, while Snapchat's popularity is huge amongst Millennials now, but it's how the app evolves from here that'll really define what it can become and whether it can remain a significant challenger in the social space.
Part of that evolution will be in aligning with the behaviors of their userbase - Snapchat has become a habitual platform amongst younger users, it plays an important role in how they connect and communicate with their peers. But as they grow up, their interests will change - if Snapchat can deliver more news content and remain a crucial app by catering to the informational needs of their user base as they mature, that'll go a long way towards pushing the app beyond being a fad or a cool toy.
This is why Snapchat has hired a former CNN political reporter to head up their Election 2016 coverage, why they've made a deal with NBC to cover the Olympics. In this context, these new changes to Discover are crucial, and add significant resonance to the concept of the platform as a real news and media player.
And of course, that's before you take into account the additional revenue that'll be brought in via ads in Discover content.
According to Nick Cicero, the CEO of Delmondo:
"The value of 3V and 3Vi ads just got exponentially greater for media buyers now that Snapchat is merging live stories and discover. Standardizing all the look and feel of "premium content" and putting it in the same place should boost the overall performance of all Snapchat ads by making them easier for anyone to find."
In addition to the Discover re-vamp, Snapchat's also added n a new 'Subscribe' option for Discover publishers.
(Image via TechCrunch)
To subscribe to a Discover channel, you simply tap and hold to get the above prompt. Once you've subscribed, the channel will be highlighted on your Stories page, saving you from having to go searching for them every time.
It's a logical and intelligent update from Snapchat. While some have raised concerns that the larger Discover icons could detract from the overall Snapchat experience, the app's reached a point now where their userbase is pretty solid - the chances of them leaving the platform and their established groups and conversations are not that high.
The additional context of the new Discover images should boost the content offerings on the platform, helping push Snapchat that little bit further ahead in its ongoing expansion.