Snapchat’s parent company is rolling out an update that aims to improve discovery of not only friends, but publishers, groups, and stories on its app. Select Android users will see a search bar located at the top of the app, and over time everyone will gain access to this feature.
With quite a few options already available on Snapchat, from sending messages to friends to posting, adding filters and stickers, viewing publisher stories, and more, the app may have become a bit too complex for some users. In an effort to alleviate this, Snap has added a search feature that it believes will facilitate a “faster and easier experience.”
Using the search bar isn’t that complicated: Type in the name of a user you want to find more information about. When results are displayed, there will be a card you can tap on to chat directly with them, another to view their story full-screen, or you can simply press and hold on a card to see their mini-profile. The search also works for finding specific publisher stories and whatever has been shared in Our Stories.
Having a search bar could also impact engagement for publishers, brands, and celebrities, especially in the realm of discovering versus active following. Today’s announcement made no reference to the data that’s collected as a result of search, but it’s possible that, as you’d expect with Google or other search applications, Snap could take the data to improve targeting of ads throughout the messaging platform. It’s been said that the company is exploring deep linking, web auto-fill capabilities for ads, and other formats that may be desirable to marketers.
A search feature could also further entice content creators to produce on the app. Even when the company brings in big names like Disney to create shows, it’s been incredibly difficult to find them, which reduces the advantages of the platform for brands and media companies.
Other updates being released are the ability to access your profile from anywhere on Snapchat using your Bitmoji icon — Snap acquired the company behind the cartoon avatars last summer. This is the latest instance of its integration, coming two months after users were able to add Bitmojis to on-demand geofilters.
Finally, users can submit posts to the Our Story section from any place and time they want. Snap has implemented an “always-on, global Geofence” that basically functions as a net to capture more content from users for inclusion in the “unique perspectives” feature. Before today, featured snaps were from specific, pre-determined events and from places where news had occurred, but this has been expanded to include content from anywhere in the world. Perhaps this is Snap’s answer to Facebook Live and Twitter Moments, signaling that the company’s going to become more proactive in surfacing content that may eventually blow up into a big-time news item.
Having a better user experience that’s streamlined and improves the use case for brands and advertisers will likely benefit Snap as it pursues a public offering. The company reportedly filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission in November, with a possible IPO by March. It’s been said that Snap is looking to raise up to $4 billion on the public market, with a valuation north of $35 billion.
With Facebook pulling out all the stops to capture people’s attention and usage, Snap needs to fight to remain competitive. Having a way to search and better navigate through the communication app couldn’t hurt.