A new Snapchat feature lets publishers create live stories out of users’ posts

Snap is launching a new feature that will let media companies access public posts made by Snapchat users and package them into editions centering on live events, breaking news and other topics.

The feature is called Curated Our Stories and is an extension of Snapchat’s public live stories, Our Stories, which Snapchat makes by drawing from photos and videos posted by Snapchat users, similar to Twitter’s Moments product. An internal team of Snap editors turns these public posts into themed editions tied to live events such as the Olympics or the NFL, as well as breaking news. Our Stories are popular on Snapchat; 75 million people watched these public stories in the past month, according to Snap. With the expansion, Snap will continue to make Our Stories, but is now letting publishers do the same, starting with a group of 26 media companies ranging from big TV programmers such as CNN and Viacom to social meme publishers like Daquan.

In addition to posting these editions in Snapchat Discover, publishers can also embed these posts on their own sites and apps. The editions will be ad-supported, with Snap handling the sales and sharing ad revenue with the publisher (but not the posts’ original creators, unfortunately for them). Snap typically splits Discover ad revenue with media companies, though some publishers have received more favorable rev-share splits in the past, sources have said.

For the publishers, Curated Our Stories can be appealing because it does not require extra resources or costs, unlike the resource-intense Discover editions.

For instance, in the past CNN has produced a daily edition and daily news show for Snapchat Discover called “The Update.” It canceled “The Update” in December after finding it difficult to make money solely from Snapchat ad revenue, according to The Wall Street Journal.

With Curated Our Stories, CNN will use existing resources, said Ashley Codianni, executive producer of social and emerging media at CNN. CNN already has a seven-person team that’s dedicated to finding and sourcing user-created photos and videos across all social platforms. It uses that content for everything from its network shows to digital and social news video clips.

“Having been a Discover partner before, this does not require a heavy lift in terms of needing video producers and motion graphics designers — it fits quite nicely within our existing workflow,” Codianni said. “It’s probably the part of the proposition that made this worthwhile for us.”

Similarly, NBC Sports is tasking one member of its 10-person team that handles social publishing and community management to test the new Snapchat feature. NBC Sports also has social experts for each of the sports it broadcasts; eventually, the plan is to also use these experts in programming curated Snapchat editions around its live sports broadcasts, said Lyndsay Signor, vp of consumer engagement for NBC Sports.

“We will see if we need to build a content-based team for this,” Signor added. “But for now, being able to use the same team that we already have in an efficient way is how we’re going to approach it.”

Overall, NBCUniversal has four of its media properties planning to do curated public stories including NBC Sports, NBC News, NBC’s “Today Show” and Telemundo. The media giant, which invested $500 million in Snap during its IPO, is already a prolific producer on Snapchat, with multiple video shows. In the past it’s done custom Snapchat Discover channels for the Summer and Winter Olympics.

The longstanding relationship between NBCU and Snapchat incentivizes NBC Sports to test the new curation feature, Signor said. “Anytime there is a new product that we can test out and debut with them, we’re generally going to be on board,” she said.

Other launch publishers for the feature include digital outlets Refinery29 and Group Nine Media that already program daily Snapchat Discover publisher editions as well as video shows.

Refinery29 will use the feature to promote its 29Rooms events and cover big world events, said Chris Sumner, the company’s svp of business development and strategy.

Though Refinery29 already has a daily Snapchat Discover channel, the daily channel features professionally produced content from Refinery29, whereas the Curated Our Stories feature is user-generated, so there’s unlikely to be confusion between the two, Sumner added.

Snap has been on a content addition spree in 2018, already promising to significantly expand the number of video shows it makes available on Discover. It also expects to add more publishers to the Curated Our Stories program following the launch. This follows a controversial redesign of the app earlier this year that pooled professionally-made video shows and publisher stories next to the curated live stories and public posts from celebrities and influencers. With more options, it’s easier to get lost in the clutter — though some of the big programmers said they’re not concerned.

“It doesn’t bother us for the simple reason that we have a very strong brand, which is synonymous with major news and breaking news,” said CNN’s Codianni. “That alone is going to carry us above the noise on the platform.”

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