Snapchat will let non-users see Stories outside its app but won’t show them ads (yet)

Snapchat is pulling a Twitter in a bid to accelerate its Twitter-esque user growth. Snapchat will enable people to share and view its content outside of its app, Snapchat’s parent company Snap announced on Tuesday.

Starting tomorrow and coinciding with Snapchat’s major redesign that was announced last month and is slowly rolling out, people with the updated app will be able to share links to certain public Stories that people will be able to view even if they don’t have a Snapchat account.

The new Story-sharing feature will be limited to some of the public Stories appearing in Snapchat’s redesigned Discover tab, though not all. Eligible Stories include Official Stories created by celebrities and influencers, Our Stories curated by Snapchat’s in-house team and Search Stories automatically cobbled together by Snapchat’s computers. Snapchat’s most premium Stories — its original shows and the Publisher Stories produced by media companies — will remain locked within Snapchat’s app.

While Snapchat is allowing content to seep out beyond its walled garden, it will maintain the ephemerality of that content. People will only be able to view Official Stories outside of Snapchat for 24 hours, and Our Stories and Search Stories will be available for 30 days; the availability windows mirror the ones imposed on those respective Stories within Snapchat’s app.

When people click on a link to a Story, the Story will play on Snapchat’s site, and Snapchat will show a button on the page for people to download its app. Stories shared on Twitter will be viewable within that platform without opening Snapchat’s site, while those shared on Facebook will open to Snapchat’s site when clicked, similar to how links to YouTube videos work, according to a Snap spokesperson. Website owners will be able to copy a piece of code from the Story player on Snapchat’s site to embed the Story on their own sites.

By enabling people without Snapchat to see Stories from Snapchat, those people may be more likely to download Snapchat’s app and use it. At least that appears to be Snapchat’s hope, in the same way that Twitter has hoped that people would see tweets embedded on publishers’ sites and opt to sign up for Twitter to see more of them.

If seeing these off-Snapchat Stories persuades people to download its app, that will help to catalyze Snapchat’s slowing daily audience growth, which inched up by roughly 3 percent year over year in Q3 2017 to mark its lowest year-over-year increase since Q1 2014. Converting more people into Snapchat users is also the only way that Snapchat’s business would directly benefit from enabling Stories to be viewed outside the app.

For now, Snapchat will not include ads within the Stories that people view outside of its app, according to the Snap spokesperson. Of course, that could change, especially if the company’s revenue continues to fall short of investors’ expectations.

About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.