It’s no surprise that millennials love Snapchat.
In August, Snapchat was ranked the third most popular social app among millennials, trailing only Facebook and Instagram.
Unsurprisingly, investors love it too: Snapchat raised $US200 million from Alibaba in March, and it’s also in talks to raise another $US500 million at a $US16 billion to $US19 billion valuation, which would bring Snapchat’s total amount of money raised to more than $US1 billion.
The company is also starting to look at monetisation. In recent months, Snapchat rolled out its “Discover” media channel, which lets news sites and magazines publish content and videos. Importantly for Snapchat, the company keeps about 40% of any ad revenue it sells for publishers on Discover.
But while Discover has generated a lot of positive press for Snapchat, not all of Snapchat’s users appear to be sold on it yet. We spoke to college kids and millennials between the ages of 17 to 25 and picked their brains about Snapchat and its Discover feature. Although not a scientific survey, the comments from our 22 respondents — who are a mix of students, adults who work in media, engineering, education, and hospitality, and recent-graduate job seekers — suggest that Snapchat’s effort to become a media destination faces some scepticism among millennials.
Below are some of the comments from the survey.
Which parts of Snapchat do you use (sending photos, sending videos, chatting, Snapcash, Discover)?
- “Mostly I use it to send pictures and videos to my friends, especially using Snapchat Stories. I don’t use the messenger thing or Snapcash (because it sketches me out). I’ve clicked through Snapchat Discover to look at the stories and pictures from Cosmopolitan and Comedy Central.”
- “Pictures and videos. Mostly when I’m at the bar or I’m walking home from class and I see something funny or weird, I’ll snap it to my friends.”
- “I have used every part of Snapchat except for Snapcash.”
- “I’m OBSESSED with Snapchat. Hands down the most used app on my phone. I pretty much know the app inside and out – it’s how I communicate with my friends, primarily.”
- “I like Snapchat Stories. Honestly, I might use that more than any other part of Snapchat. It’s such an easy and kind of humblebraggy way to share what you’re doing.”
What do you think about Snapchat’s Discover feature?
- “I watched one of the ‘episodes’ of the Snapchat series Literally Can’t Even. It was really bad. But also, I found out about Discover because I read an article about it. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have known it was there.”
- “I like the stuff in Discover! It’s not exactly the most natural thing to swipe through from taking selfies to looking at news but I know Snapchat has to make money somehow.”
- “Hate it. Give me some in-app advertising if you have to make money. As far as I can tell, most of the news stories and video in Discover is just recycled stuff you can find online from Vice or ESPN or whoever.”
- “I don’t really see the point. It would never occur to me to get all my news from Snapchat. I think Snapchat as a media platform is interesting. It makes sense in the way that it’s all self-destructing so it gets replaced every 24 hours with new news, but I don’t see society gravitating to Snapchat to get their news. Especially not anyone who isn’t already using Snapchat.”
- “I’ve never used it before and didn’t know it existed.”
How did you find out about Discover?
- “I was just clicking around inside Snapchat one day and noticed the pulsing purple button, it must have been right after I updated the app.”
- “I was confused when I saw it at first because I thought Snapchat had somehow added all these companies to my Snapchat contacts. Then I was confused because I thought they were advertorials. Then I tried deleting the Discover feature and all of the media companies individually but it turns out you can’t do that. So now I’m stuck with it.”
- “I remember seeing articles about Discover when it was brand new.”
- “I think there must have been something in the app to alert you to Discover when it launched, but I really can’t remember.”
- “Someone in my dorm showed it to me.”
Which publishers are doing the coolest stuff with Discover? Whose content is the worst?
“ESPN for the sports highlights. Confused about why Daily Mail is on there.”
- “I always look at Food Network’s on my way home from work for dinner ideas, it’s a lot of recipes.”
- “I like Vice and Nat Geo. Cosmo’s is a bunch of listicles that makes it seem like it’s trying too hard to be BuzzFeed.”
- “I wanted to like Comedy Central’s! Like I really did. But it’s mostly repackaged stuff you can just watch online or on TV. I hate that most of the stories and videos on Discover are just stories and videos from the websites they plunked down on another platform. To me it seems lazy. But I think this problem will iron itself out if companies decide to start investing in Discover more. They could build out teams devoted to making Snapchat articles and videos.”
What kinds of Snapchat Discover stories, photos, and videos work the best?
- “Anything short. I don’t want to read or listen to something that takes more than a minute or two at a time.”
- “You can just tell a lot of stuff first appeared online or in a magazine and they just copied and pasted it in a new format for Snapchat. I hate that. So I would say original stuff works best.”
- “I think Yahoo having Katie Couric intro every story on Discover works really well. So maybe consistency with a host, like you’re watching a talk show.”
Snapchat’s Discover feature helps Snapchat make money. If Discover didn’t exist or didn’t end up working out, would you hypothetically be willing to pay for the Snapchat app, make in-app purchases, deal with banner advertising, etc. so that Snapchat could exist and make a profit?
- “I haven’t paid for a single app yet, and I don’t plan to start with Snapchat. But I wouldn’t be bothered by advertising if it would keep Snapchat free.”
- “I might make a one-time payment if it was like $US5 or less, like if I had to pay for it when I first downloaded the app.”
- “In-app purchases weird me out. Just throw in some ads and we can call it a day.”
- “I hope Discover works for Snapchat but I don’t know if it will because none of my friends really use it. But I hope Discover works because I think advertisements on Snapchat would ruin its minimalistic design and feel.”
Snapchat declined to comment for this story or to provide data on how the new Discover feature is performing.