Snapchat and the World Cup

By: Eliza Borish

Did you watch the World Cup and wish you were there? While I couldn’t quite make it, I did feel closer to the action in part because of Snapchat. Snapchat, the photo messaging application that allows users to take photos and videos, add text and drawings and send them to other users for a limited amount of seconds, made it possible to actually feel in attendance through their feature known as Snapchat story. A Snapchat story is a photo or video that is posted to the “Stories” section of your account and is visible to every one of your friends for up to 24 hours. It can be viewed as many times as desired and once 24-hours passes, it is automatically deleted. In addition, any one of your friends that posts a “Story” will appear under the “My Friends” tab and you will be able to watch the story they too posted. Some people will post one photo for 6 seconds while others will post “true” stories documenting a sequence of events in 10 photos lasting for 80 seconds.
In the past, Snapchat stories have just been used for users to share with their friends. However, with the recent World Cup in Brazil, everything has changed. Snapchat, launched a Snapchat story, called Rio “Live” that appeared on every users application. That means during the finals match between Germany and Argentina, every time you went to view a story from your friend, you would also be able to click on the “Rio Live” story. Now what is this “Rio Live” story? Well essentially, instead of it solely being your own personal story, it is now “our story”. This means that anyone in Rio Di Janeiro could submit snaps to the RioLive2014 account where Snapchat personnel would then curate the snaps into a Snapchat story that anyone around the world with a Snapchat account, could view.

Whether users wanted to see the Rio Live story or not, they had no choice. Snapchat added the feature to their account for them instead of asking users to search for the Rio Live account and add it because seeing Rio Live was something that personally appealed to them. This isn’t the first time that Snapchat utilized users’ posts to curate a story and live stream an event. At Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas this past June, users could submit posts to the EDC account that would then be selected to add to the EDC story. The difference factor, though, was that rather than the EDC story simply appearing, users had the ability to opt-in and search if they wanted to see EDC themselves. Rio Live changed this by taking out user control and instead, deciding that the story would appear regardless if the user was actually interested in it or not.

Although, I did not see the EDC story, it was deemed successful for capturing and live streaming the true essence of the three-night festival. I did get a chance to see the Rio Live (well, I really had no choice since it automatically appeared) and I was quite entertained. It was really neat to see what people in Rio were snapping to their friends and posting during such a momentous moment like the World Cup. I was able to see the stadium from a first-person perspective rather than a helicopter just taking an overview from above. There were posts from German fans drawing the German flag on their faces, posts from Argentine fans showing off their light blue décor, posts from fans inside the stadium showing off the vibe of the crowd and posts from people outside the stadium watching on their TV sets or in the streets. And all these posts occurred throughout the whole game: before, during and even after through the celebrations and sorrow (depending on your team of choice, of course). While I probably wouldn’t have opted-in to see the Rio Live story if I was given the option, I am happy I saw them because it offered a unique perspective of the World Cup. The posts made me feel like I was a part of something bigger watching along with all those in Rio and feeling the energy that was filling the air.

From a business perspective, Snapchat could utilize this forceful injection of event stories to their benefit. While the World Cup didn’t pay Snapchat to implement a Rio Live story, the World Cup was being promoted through it. The success with the Rio Live story opens up the possibility of “sponsored stories” within Snapchat; what Rio Live was, but without the cost. Snapchat could charge companies a fee to insert their event into users’ stories, thus promoting the event and brand and offering global visibility to the millions of Snapchat users. By doing so, Snapchat users could see what’s hot at the moment in the world and attempt to be a part of that, whether it be sporting events, award ceremonies, music festivals and anything in between. Therefore, these stories could be beneficial for all involved: for Snapchat who earns the money, the company paying and receiving brand exposure and the users who can now be a part of the action even if they can’t attend.

The power of promotion is at the hands of these Snapchat stories and some big companies trying to garner attention and mobilize consumers may pay to insert a story. Rio Live was not paid for by the World Cup but it seemed to be a huge hit and attract a lot of viewers and maintain a big interest so why wouldn’t Snapchat want to earn money for doing the exact same thing?

The future of Snapchat stories is unknown but if they learned anything from their EDC story and Rio Live story, it is that Snapchat stories have the ability to transform and reinvent live streaming by connecting users across the globe to personal posts and first-hand experiences of the actual event. One perk about Snapchat stories, unlike other promotional tools, is if you don’t want to see or watch the story, you simply don’t have to click them. So even when Snapchat implents a story into your feed about the Summer Olympics and you prefer the Winter Olympics, you won’t be forced to watch, just recommended. And only 24 hours later, it will be gone.

Have you used Snapchat? How were the responses with your friends? As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

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