San Francisco: By putting best friends first and dividing them from professional publishers, Snapchat hopes to conquer Instagram and revive its own growth with a big redesign that begins rolling out Friday. And it looks great. Snapchat is finally personalizing, highlighting the most relevant content so it’s easier to consume.
“We are separating the social from the media, and taking an important step forward towards strengthening our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media,” Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel wrote in an Axios op-ed this morning. Rather than sorting content by how popular it is with everyone else like Facebook or by reverse chronological order like Snapchat used to, Snap will mold itself to what each person watches most, like Netflix.
— Marsha Collier (@MarshaCollier) November 30, 2017
Techcruch says that Even if Snapchat struggles to add more users amidst Facebook’s competition, its new algorithms could get loyalists spending even more time and seeing more ads in the app. A small percentage of users worldwide on iOS and Android will start getting the new Snapchat on Friday, earlier than expected, and it should be rolled out to everyone within a few weeks.
— Josh Elman (@joshelman) November 29, 2017
So what exactly is the redesign? It puts all messages and Stories from friends to the left of the camera, sorted by who you talk to and view most. It revives auto-advance, so you can watch everyone’s Stories in a row, but with best friends, not people who post the most first. And it puts to the right of the camera all premium publishers, pro social media stars you follow and aggregated stories from search and Snap Map in the Discover section, curated by humans and sorted by your past viewing behavior.
“Social media fueled ‘fake news’ because content designed to be shared by friends is not necessarily content designed to deliver accurate information,” writes Spiegel. Putting all Discover content through human editorial review could weed out the click-bait disinformation that’s plagued Facebook.
Snapchat will still show ads between Stories and Discover content like always. But because all the best content is shown in a row instead of being sorted chronologically or more uniformly for everyone, people will become less accustomed to skipping content, including its ads. That could be a boon for Snapchat, which fell $30 million short of revenue expectations last quarter, sinking its share price. Snap is down 2 percent today, potentially because the redesign mostly shuffles existing content rather than adding big new things, but Facebook is down 3.75 percent, perhaps because Snap is correcting some of its core flaws here and adopting Facebook’s algorithmic approach.
In reality, Snapchat needed this redesign a year ago when Facebook began its attack of the clones. But better late than never, and Snap’s willingness to flip-flop on so many of its design and strategy choices is the courageous move it needed.