snapchat logo
Credit: Screenshot from Snapchat on Youtube.

It's been a good year for Snapchat so far. The app launched its Discover service in January, giving media outlets who partnered up on the project an opportunity to publish stories onto the platform by creating a daily 'edition'. 

And recent reports claim the chat app, where users can send temporary 'snaps', has its sights on a $19billion valuation.

With a primarily young user base, Snapchat has been an intriguing proposition for media outlets and the Discover service is an opportunity to experiment with a different storytelling style to reach a new audience.

"Snapchat doesn't profess to know exactly what the best thing is going to be at every turn and neither do we," Vice News head of platform Drake Martinet told in a podcast.

Vice is one of the publishers who post daily editions on Discover, and its content varies from long-form videos to text-based stories and features sourced form the outlet's many verticals including Munchies and Noisey.

It's a brand new way for us to tell stories and that's a really exciting thingAlan Strange, Sky News
"Vice is going to try some things and some of them are going to work, and some of them are not and we're totally ok with that," said Martinet.

"It's being above board with what we're testing with our audience and... being very visible with the fact that we are figuring it out along with the audience and along with the platform.

"That really resonates with people especially our generation of audience."

Daily editions on Discover can include between five and ten stories, all headlined with a top 'snap' – users can the swipe up to access the full story.

Vice has been experimenting with longer form video, often running for closer to half an hour in length in contrast to the more stereotypical bite-sized video designed for mobile.

But are Snapchat users keen to watch long-form video on their phones?

"We're really happy with how they're doing actually," said Martinet. "I don't know if that would be universal, Vice is known for having really engaging videos with high completion rates... and we're seeing that carry through across platforms.

"We already have a lot of mobile consumption on content that length now."

He added that Vice is currently testing the waters in terms of what the Snapchat audience wants to see from publishers on the platform, but "when it comes down to it, it's all about the content, it's all about the story".

Sky News senior producer Alan Strange also sees room for in-depth stories on Snapchat.

He explained there were "two levels of editorial content on Discover".

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Screengrab of a Vice story on Snapchat Discover, with the 'top snap' on the left and fuller article on the right

There's the top snap – the headline – which is "very stylized" and read in portrait mode. Then a space for "deeper, longer form content" as you swipe up, with text, images and video optimised for a landscape view.

"You can really explore an issue and give a lot more information that way," he said. 'So it's not just about that really interesting visual on the top snaps."

Sky News looks for "stories with impact" for its Snapchat edition, and is not trying to replicate its 24-hour news service on the platform.

With just one edition a day, "this is about depth of content, about telling the story using a slightly different tone," Strange told in the podcast.

"What we look at when we select our stories and begin the process every morning is about storytelling.

"It's a brand new way for us to tell stories and that's a really exciting thing," he said.

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