Stories — Snapchat’s Play on the Ephemeral Status Update
In a move that pushed beyond its roots as a purely temporary photo- and video-messaging service, Snapchat on Thursday introduced Stories, a way for users to share with connected friends without having to send out pictures individually.
Snapchat became known for its ephemeral messaging. Send a photo or video to a friend, and within 10 seconds or less, it’s gone for good (more or less).
Think of the new Stories product as a sort of nod to the status update. Instead of blasting friends with what you’re up to, you can set your status for the day by taking pictures, which will be viewable for an unlimited number of times within a 24-hour period. There are obvious corollaries here: A throwback to AOL’s Instant Messenger days, an Instagram of your breakfast, or the most obvious affront, a Facebook status post.
What I’m seeing here, however, seems like a jab at Twitter — and even Vine — more than anything else. Take the use of Twitter during the “Breaking Bad” finale: The company saw a massive influx of highly relevant tweets for a specific window of time, likely the 24-hour period that surrounds the show’s original airing. Snapchat’s Stories, similarly, are highly relevant for the moment, for that particular day, but perhaps not so much beyond.
Snapchat, then, has found something of a balance between Twitter’s immediacy — the high-relevance, high-velocity update — and the permanence of the Facebook Timeline. And, at first blush, it seems like a clever compromise.
My quibble, as with other facets of Snapchat, is figuring out how to use the new product. It took a few tries to understand what Stories actually was, despite the introductory video sent out by Snapchat’s makers. And stitching pictures together wasn’t exactly second-nature, considering how I’ve typically used the service.
Still, I imagine that engagement — the metric that’s oh-so-precious to Valley startups — will most certainly rise with the presence of the more-present Stories, lending a sort of passive use case to the service that it hadn’t had before (again, like Twitter, where the majority of users consume tweets, rather than send them).