Snapchat and #Sotu

Branden Harvey did the first ever Snapchat story from inside the White House, one of a select group of 20 instagrammers invited into the presidential digs.   But Wired writes – that despite having hundreds of thousands of followers who watch him as he goes shopping in ridiculous leggings or fills his mailbox with a 7-11 Slushies  – he’s actually really hard to find on Snapchat.

This points to a key problem with Snapchat: It’s really hard to find new things. This is a drag for users, particularly new users who are trying to figure out why the service is so popular. And it poses challenges for publishers, from Internet stars like Harvey to brands to legacy media companies, all of whom are anxious to crack Snapchat’s code and win the attention of its massive, youthful audience. More than 100 million users open Snapchat every day, says CEO and cofounder Evan Spiegel, and most of them are under 24 years old. And watch some 7 billion videos a day, according to Bloomberg.

The article argues that Snapchat is missing out on a major revenue generator in the form of promoted content, and that it hasn’t yet figured out what it wants to be.

But if Snapchat is comfortable relying on a ’90s media model for finding content on the service, the big question is whether it’s a media company or a tech company. Its $16 billion valuation would suggest investors, at least, believe it’s a tech company, with the ability to grow very large and use the data it collects to sell ads and new products. Media companies command smaller valuations. They stand out in the market for creating and distributing Zeitgeisty content themselves, not as makers of a new, innovative platform for others to do so.   So far, Snapchat is both.

But users don’t necessarily care.  There are over 100 million daily Snapchat users, including 60% of American smartphone users between the ages of 13 and 34.  Those facts were enough to push one of the highest profile Americans onto Snapchat the day before his big moment:  yes, the White House joined one day before the #sotu speech in order to “meet people where they are”.  Don’t expect any rainbow vomit selfies from the hippest administration ever, says the Huffington Post.  Do expect lots of Sunny and Bo. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 23.12.51

News organisations were busy using Snapchat too, for snap reactions to #sotu.


  1. New York Times Innovation Report 
  2. Last Call
  3. Snowfall

ASSIGNMENT:  Write a 400-word post comparing the treatment of one story in the physical NYT with its online counterpart.   Pick a topic related to the beat that you have chosen.  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each presentation?  How long did you spend on each?  To what extent did the online story fulfil the aims as laid out in the Innovation report?  Please ensure you quote from the Innovation report in your blogpost.  What grade would you mark the NYT for reaching the aims set out in the Innovation Report based on your article?  (for Tuesday Jan 19 8pm)   NOTE: Physical newspapers can be found in the library or in the Comm studies foyer (5F North Quad).  Also in Starbucks.  The rubric is here

New York Times Failure…. In One Chart


From gigaom

From gigaom

Interesting chart from Gigaom showing that the average Buzzfeed piece is shared almost 8000 times, compared to the New York Times, which garners ten times fewer shares.    The piece points out that it’s more instructive to look at the median; the figure for the NYT is just 11 shares.   Check out the second chart too, showing that 14% of Buzzfeed articles go viral (ie more than 10,000 shares.)


Shout-out for Blog of the Week to Maddie Kimble.

READING for Jan 22

The Revenue Picture for American Journalism and How it’s Changing (Pew)

The End of the Printed Newspaper (Clay Shirky)

False Idol (CJR)

ASSIGNMENT: Live-tweet an event, whether it be a speech, a sports match, a TV show or a demonstration.   Make sure you tweet at least 10 times. Then post the series of tweets to your wordpress site.  USE the #c439 hashtag!

Separately post the most retweeted or favourited tweet (for Jan 27 8am)