As the Super Bowl got underway on Sunday (2 February), US media outlets were geared up to share the latest results with their audiences on their own websites and across their social media accounts.
This was also true at the Washington Post, but for Cory Haik, executive producer and senior editor of digital news at the Post, the game struck her as a chance to add another layer to their live social engagement using Snapchat.
Snapchat originally launched in 2011, with the aim – as outlined in a blog post at the time – of offering a "place to share awkward selfies and funny photos with our friends".
The arrival of Snapchat Stories in October means users can also now gather images and short-videos together and then delivers this to the viewer as an album of content, one image after another. The content then remains available for 24 hours, as opposed to immediately vanishing, as is standard Snapchat procedure.
Having already had a go at using the app with its PostPolitics account, Haik told Journalism.co.uk that the Super Bowl offered the Post a way to use the technology for real-time sharing, something she sees as being a strong way for journalists to use the platform, particularly when merged with use of Snapchat Stories.
"Snapchat Stories is really a powerful thing for journalists and publications," she said, on top of the more default offerings from Snapchat, which she added are still "great for journalists".
The idea for Sunday's "experiment" was inspired by a Super Bowl project by Facebook, she said.
"I saw this piece that Re/code did about Facebook asking celebrities to live-Facebook their game experiences, and I thought 'huh, live-Facebooking', and then I was thinking about Twitter and how during a live event Twitter just gets really bogged down, it's insane."
Therefore she – along with a colleague – turned to Snapchat to try and provide a more "personal" engagement experience, with less noise from a wider community.
As they used Snapchat Stories, from the moment each image was 'snapped', and for 24 hours afterwards, those who were following Haik on Snapchat, could hold down her account and be presented with a run-through of the images, from first to last.
The app does give the creator of the content the ability to view viewing-related statistics, but Haik was hesitant to share any details so soon.
"I can absolutely see how many people have held down these photos. I don't want to tell you yet but check back. I have to say it's much more than I expected."
But in the future, the Post is likely to focus Snapchat-efforts on "in real life" coverage, she said.
"I think that's probably a better way to go than 'snapping' off of the television because it's sort of weird to 'snap' off of TV," she said, adding that she "would really like to get some reporters out there trying this and using stories in a live environment, so we're making plans for that."
Although they may need to harness their skills when it comes to being succinct, as Haik estimated the character limit to be around 30 on the app.
"It's like a fourth of a tweet," Haik said. "So if you thought you had to be concise on Twitter, it's really about just getting that quick headline and that's it."
There are certain apps, such as LaterPic, which used to be called LaterSnap, that can be used to add text to the image in Photoshop before using it in Snapchat, she said, but added that would not work for "live production".
"So for live you've just got that 30 characters to really quickly tell your story".
Journalism.co.uk will look in more detail at a number of examples of how media outlets are using Snapchat – including this one – in Friday's podcast.
- Haik has also blogged about this on Nieman Journalism Lab
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