Snapchat Stepping Away From Biggest Competitive Strength: Immediacy

Snapchat just announced on Wednesday a new feature that signals a major philosophical change for the platform. A social media company that has, until now, placed great emphasis on immediacy will now offer a feature, called “Memories,” which works like a holding bin for photos and videos that can be added to a Snapchat story later on.

If you’re not aware, Snapchat stories are a series of photos and videos that can be viewed by all of a user’s friends and followers until they’re deleted 24 hours after being posted. Until now, photos and videos had to be added to a story immediately after they were recorded. That gave the platform a sense of nowness. But with Memories, that will no longer be the case.

The new feature is a serious change for Snapchat, where in-the-moment sharing has long been the draw. That sense of immediacy is one of the platform’s chief differences over rivals like Instagram, where many users go through great pains to present their lives in the best possible light through careful curation. With the addition of Moments, Snapchat is opening the door to that same degree of self-editing.

Social media users are notorious for detesting major changes to their favorite apps. So why is Snapchat, which recently surpassed Twitter in daily users, taking the risk? All signs point to advertising. The company is now showing ads in between their friends’ stories. Allowing Snapchat users to make stories with older footage could result in more stories, which in turn means more room for ads! There’s a telling line to this effect in Snapchat’s blog post announcing the news: “It’s fun to celebrate an anniversary or birthday by finding a few old snaps and stringing them together into a new story.”

Good luck on that $1 billion by the end of 2017, Snapchat!