Earlier this month, Snap shared a letter with investors stating the company would focus on updating the Snapchat app to make it easier to use. This announcement came on the heels of a disappointing third quarter earnings report and stagnant user growth. Now, Snap is finally introducing the promised update to Snapchat that separates professional media content from regular friends.
The basic idea of Snapchat is that the left side is primarily for displaying content from friends while the right side is for professional media content from companies and brands. However, the ephemeral "Stories" sometimes blended content from friends and brands which made it somewhat confusing. Now, stories from friends and media are separated on the left and right, respectively.
"Until now, social media has always mixed photos and videos from your friends with content from publishers and creators," the company said in the announcement. "While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side-effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves."
Snap is also implementing what it calls its "Best Friends algorithm" that will basically learn how you communicate with friends and display the content accordingly. Theoretically, the friends you communicate with more often will show up first rather than having to continuously scroll to find a particular friend's content.
Other changes include the return of auto-advancing stories... kind of. Once you watch a story, a preview of the next story shows up from one of your friends which you can either tap to watch or swipe away.
There's also a new Discover page that includes Stories from creators you might be interested in. Snap says that over time, Discover will become more personalized via algorithms along with human curators. Snap believes this presents the perfect balance between machine and human personalization.
The changes to Snapchat will begin rolling out this week for a small test group and will be released more broadly in the coming weeks.