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Snapchat Video Comes Into Its Own

Photo of Tim Mulligan
by Tim Mulligan

So something remarkable happened at this year’s Grammys awards. Not the who, where or what about the winners of the world’s most prestigious music awards ceremony. Something far more profound for the future of content discovery and consumption occurred. The best way to experience the awards for fans was not through broadcast TV, nor the vicarious thrills of Instagram’s new Spotlight video discovery feed, but through generation edge’s very own Snapchat’s Live Stories experience.

Why Snapchat Live Stories Won At The Grammys

Traditionally when a fan wanted a closer and more personal feel for what was happening at award ceremonies they would flock to Twitter. There they could follow and share the random text and occasional images tweeted by their favourite celebrities. The most retweeted tweet of all time (so far at least) was Ellen DeGenere’s famous selfie photo taken at the 2014 oscars alongside her fellow showbiz alumini. Such was the popularity of the image that it was retweeted over 3 million times (a million of which came within the first hour of it being posted.) The image also gained over 2 million likes. At the time the public felt like they were seeing the Oscars from the inside through viewing this photo, which was both star-studded and spontaneous. What a difference two years makes. Twitter is no longer the first port of call for fans looking for the latest images of their idols (Instagram eclipsed Twitter’s user base last summer and is now over 400 million users strong and growing, whilst Twitter is stuck around the 320 million mark.) And fans aren’t merely looking for photos and bite-sized copy anymore…they want video as well.

Instagram’s Spotlight feature certainly came into its own at the Grammys allowing fans to see a continuing evolving video feed of carefully poised footage of the artists. However Instagram, as every teenager knows, is primarily about presentation superseding reality. Filters and carefully chosen images are used to present the best possible representation of a person on what was originally envisaged as purely an image sharing platform. It’s a publicist’s ideal social channel, but the official celebrity accounts are prone to leaving the audience cold as they lack authenticity. And authenticity is the social currency of the new digital generation

Snapchat Stories presented the Grammies both in all its razzmatazz and in its very human goofing around of the stars who used filters to make fun of themselves alongside the ever-present PR machine whirring in the background. Sure, it could be argued that authenticity is another form of PR spin, but it undoubtedly makes the audience relate to the celebrity in a way that the carefully airbrushed Instagram and broadcast TV coverage never can nor wants to do. The 100 million daily Snapchatters were able to experience the Grammies as if they had been provided with a back stage pass by their goofy show biz friends.

What This Means For Video Discovery And Consumption

We are living in fragmented content times. With the average age of the US pay-TV subscriber at 55, and the average Snapchatter being born after the turn of this millennium, the requirements from both video audiences are very different. While the immersive and irreverent user experience of Snapchat Stories can seem both overwhelming and inappropriate for the mainstream TV viewer (the ones who primarily pay for TV content) the demographic clock is ticking and the consumption of mobile video through messaging services like Snapchat is rapidly increasing (Snapchat increased its daily video views tenfold from 0.5 billion to 5 billion between q3 2014 and the q3 of 2015). Pay-TV on the other hand continues its inexorable subscriber decline. As the overall market for video grows the old lucrative high margin TV businesses find themselves at the wrong end of the demographic shifts currently taking place, which are making video leaner and more responsive to mobile audiences. It’s time to start taking mobile video content viewing on messaging services seriously.

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