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Snapchat has cultivated a young audience, but didn't get much traction for local content.

Snapchat Distances Itself From Local Storytelling

October 5th, 2016   ||    by Todd Wasserman

Snapchat has been a marketing phenom, rocketing to 60 million daily users and 10 billion daily pageviews this year, according to Bloomberg. Yet not every move Snapchat makes is golden. Take Local Stories, a collaborative summary of local videos, for example.

Localized Storytelling

As TechCrunch explains, the company introduced the feature, originally known as Our Stories, in February 2015. The idea was to curate a local audience by featuring snaps from a certain geographic location that could only be viewed by people nearby. Ideally, the feature would prompt users to check if there was something going on in their local towns.

In September, Snapchat eliminated the feature, which was available in Los Angeles and New York, and subsequently cut about fifteen positions, as reported by Bloomberg. In place of Local Stories, the company will focus on grander moments like the Super Bowl or the Fourth of July.

Geo-Targeted Appeal

One of the most notable attributes about social networks is that they allow you to meet new people and stay in touch with old friends regardless of location. If you’re a fan of Parquet Courts, for instance, you can make friends and chat about the band even if you’re 3,000 or more miles away from each other.

Nevertheless, the idea of adding a local element to social networking has had appeal. The advertising possibilities, for instance, are considerable. A local pizzeria might want to advertise on a localized social network to encourage users to visit the restaurant to chat IRL (in real life).

In 2011, a few social networking sites with a local orientation, including Hey, Neighbor!, EveryBlock, and Nextdoor hit the scene, noted Daily Mail. All three are still around, but none has cultivated an audience nearly as large as Facebook or Snapchat. The local orientation tends to skew the services toward older users who own their homes.

In 2014, Yik Yak appeared to break that pattern with a local service that appealed to young users. The mobile app and web application let users view and take part in discussion threads within a five-mile radius. Launched in 2013, the service caught on in 2014, but that year the service had to cut off high schools and middle schools because of bullying, eliminating about 70 percent of its user base, TechCrunch explained, and has since faded in popularity.

Local-Targeted TV Advertising

In Snapchat’s case, the feature wasn’t as consistently popular as others on the app, according to Bloomberg. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for locally-oriented social media ads. Local social media ad targeting can engage communities and foster both neighborhood and national events. But if social networks can’t figure out the local market, then broadcasters will gladly fill that void, for example, with programmatic TV.

BIA/Kelsey expects programmatic TV to ramp up quickly over the next couple of years. The ability to target at a granular level will prompt similar adoption rates for local TV on the national level, according to BIA/Kelsey, who also predicts that the market for local social media ads will hit $11 billion next year, mostly via Facebook and Twitter.

If that’s the case, then perhaps people would rather “like” or follow a local business they already know on social media than discover new ones there. That may change as mobile becomes more of the center of the media landscape. At that point, perhaps Snapchat will revisit Local Stories.

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