Clinton’s Snapchat Interview Reveals More About the App than the Candidate

Snapchat’s interview with Hillary Clinton isn’t necessarily about politics. It’s about what publishers can do on the app.

For 48 hours, Snapchat shared an interview with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on its political show – “Good Luck America” – found on their Discover feature.

The show is hosted by former CNN reporter Peter Hamby, who begins the Clinton interview with by going through her history. Clinton, herself, makes brief interjections, talking about her college years – particularly what political issues were relevant then. Hamby’s introduction touches on similar times in Donald Trump’s timeline, but since he declined an interview, his personal perspective is absent.

The piece makes no show of trying to be anything other than a character study, another way to make Clinton relatable. But that’s the content people expect from Snapchat.

“Users expect conversational, often humorous takes, whether in the form of a funny filter or emoji,” said Talya Minsberg, social strategy editor at The New York Times, in a previous interview with MediaFile.  And, this extends to the informal nature of the show.

But what’s striking about the piece isn’t just the lighthearted look at Hillary’s perspective. It’s that Snapchat is producing polished content with multiple camera angles, graphics, stand-ups, etc. All the elements of a traditional news broadcast package on a platform exclusively for mobile devices.

Snapchat, which has grown to over 150 million daily users, is trying to be more than the app for behind-the-scenes perspectives. Snapchat is most explicitly trying to do this with its Discover feature, launched in January 2015. Publishers can produce graphics, multi-camera video, and longer form content. NBC even published a spin-off of their popular singing show, “The Voice,” on Discover. But the app is trying to push even more traffic towards this portion of the app with unique content.

Minsberg explained about the New York Times’s own Snapchat content. “On Snapchat, we work to create stories that resonate with a mobile-first audience. That means engaging visuals, geofilters and, yes, emojis when appropriate, as well as a voice you may not necessarily hear when reading The Times.”

And while in addition to Snapchat’s own content in the Discover section, the app taps into other content producers. Familiar publishers like CNN, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, and BuzzFeed can be seen there as well, posting content that is both engaging to the mobile audience, but also showing perspectives that may not be heard in traditional media.

NowThis, in a partnership with the PBS documentary series POV, have even published films on Snapchat, available for only 24 hours. The first documentary, “We’ll Still Be Here,” went live October 23rd and was about domino players striving to remain constant in a changing neighborhood. The second one, “The Way It Should Be,” will go live October 30, showcasing  perspectives on love and friendship from queer women of color.

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The logo for NowThis series featured on Snapchat.

While the content may not necessarily be hard-hitting news, an interview like Clinton’s shows that Snapchat is not just a platform viable for varied voices, but that those voices and perspectives can be presented in a high-quality manner comparable to traditional media.

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