Is Snapchat discovering a journalistic comeback?

As Snapchat updates its Discover feature, its still trying to figure out its purpose in the world of social media. (Image: Flickr user ryan.nagelmann under CC)

As Snapchat updates its Discover feature, its still trying to figure out its purpose in the world of social media. (Image: Flickr user ryan.nagelmann under CC)

The last couple of weeks have seen changes to Snapchat’s Discover feature, the platform established in January by the Los Angeles based social network that has seen content from providers including CNN, ESPN and the Comedy Central network.

Two weeks ago, a new iOS update was made available, putting the feature front and center before stories and updates from other users. The update came amid concerns of decline in engagement through Discover, according to a report from Mashable.

Earlier Monday, it was announced that the iHeartRadio streaming service and BuzzFeed would start publishing on Snapchat, according to a report from the tech news site Recode, which added that Vox.com would also begin publishing on the platform later in the summer.

These moves from Snapchat comes as it continues to make a name for itself in the world of social media journalism through Discover, as the concerns of engagement decline continue to make themselves known. But in order for Snapchat to reverse the decline concerns, there must be an appeal to engage with that content. Is the engagement responsibility down to the publisher, or is it down to Snapchat?

Snapchat is still seen as an underdog as far as social media platforms, but brands and publishers are ready and willing to engage with as many different audiences as possible. The addition of brands like BuzzFeed to Discover signal that publishers want to engage with Snapchat’s audience. Indeed, for Snapchat, this signals that it wants to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the interaction of social media and journalism.

Yet, more must be done by the social network to convince younger audiences that Discover is worth their time, in an age where the media environment for them consists of a multi-screened, multi-platform experience. On the other side, the Discover feature should be able to signal that Snapchat is ready to be a part of the ever expanding world of social media journalism, something that will please its early investors, as well as become credible competition to Facebook and Twitter.

Even as new publishers join the list of making their content available on Discover, Snapchat is still trying to figure out the role Discover should have. It will take some time to come to a conclusion, and to convince publishers that engaging through this platform was the right move.

Until then, Discover has taken on a new form – a way to figure out the answer to what all the buzz is about when it comes to Snapchat, something that remains, for the most part, mostly unanswered.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is a contributing blogger to Net Worked and SPJ’s community coordinator. He is also Co-Student Life editor and media correspondent for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s unless otherwise indicated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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