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The battle over Stories continues with Snap releasing an update for its ephemeral messaging app that now lets you search across stories. Rolling out city by city, the company claims it has built a way to “understand what’s happening in Snaps that are submitted to Our Story, and to create new Stories using advanced machine learning.” To date, more than 1 million stories have been created.
When enabled, you can query based on keyword, such as game, concert, or party. Previously, the only stories you had access to were either the ones from your friends or those that were professionally curated by Snap. But now with a search feature, you’ll be able to peek at other people’s stories, at least those who are willing to share it publicly and that have some relevancy to the topic.
So with Major League Baseball’s 2017 season set to begin soon, it’s feasible that if you’re interested in seeing what’s happening around the United States, you can query “baseball” and Snapchat will display stories from various ballparks. How exactly this works is unknown, but one could speculate that Snap is using image recognition, geotagging, and whatever text is on stories to identify when and where a Snap is taken and place that into a story.
The way Snap curates stories professionally isn’t going to scale because there are too many events going on around the world for it to keep track of. There may be instances that you think are a big deal, but Snap doesn’t — it happens. Having a search feature could make things more accessible. Plus this could open up opportunities for brands interested in finding out what people are saying about them — could you query by Coca-Cola, United Airlines, or McDonald’s to find out sentiment?
Search will also help with getting people to stay on the site longer, and with more engagement, the better it is for advertisers. Snap will be able to display more sponsored snaps throughout people’s experiences, which in turn will help the newly public company grow its revenue.
Hitting 1 million stories is a significant milestone for Snap, but it needs to accelerate that growth as Facebook has all but lifted everything good about the app, bringing the story feature to not only Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, but also its flagship app. But to its credit, Facebook has acknowledged Snap’s role in the media format, calling Snap a “pioneer.”
The new search feature is rolling out now, but Snap declined to specify which cities will benefit from this tool initially.
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