Snapchat to Let Users Share Stories Outside Its Mobile App

(Bloomberg) -- Snap Inc. is opening up its application’s walled garden in a bid to spur growth.

Some of the content on Snapchat will be shareable via a link, so it can be viewed by people who don’t have the app. The company will let anyone share stories that are created by people with official accounts, like celebrities, via a link hosting the content on Snapchat.com. When people without official accounts submit content publicly to a group video, like one about a news event like a wildfire, those will be shareable, too.

The change could help expose a broader set of people to the kinds of videos that appear on the app, potentially increasing downloads or teaching others what works. The company has reported several quarters of disappointing user growth.

People make “stories” by posting short videos for their friends on Snapchat. The clips last for 24 hours. Right now, anyone can save their own videos on their phone and share them from there. For official accounts -- the ones from celebrities, sports teams and politicians -- and public group stories, now anyone can share the content via a link, which helps Snapchat track where the content is spreading. When shared via link, the stories will remain ephemeral, disappearing in 24 hours if it’s a story by one user, or 30 days if it’s a story from multiple users.

The change also could make Snapchat stories easier to embed in news stories and publishers’ websites. Easy sharing and embedding helped make Google’s YouTube the leading online video site, and Twitter a common source of news commentary. If Snapchat wants a bigger audience, it’s likely realizing it must break out of the confines of its mobile app and embrace the web in a similar way. The company currently is not planning to run ads on the web content, but isn’t ruling out the possibility, according to a spokeswoman.

The option will so far only be available in countries where the latest version of the app is available, like Australia and Canada. The company has been redesigning the app to separate media content from friends’ posts. That update is rolling out slower than expected.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.