Skift Take

Curating photos, videos, and articles into a new self-contained digital experience puts travel brands at the mercy of the millennial mindset and the platform itself.

Snapchat can make it easier to attract the interest of millennials by serving up content from recognizable publishers, or so National Geographic Traveler hopes.

When Snapchat introduced its Discover product in late January, 11 publications joined in to form a content hub that eschews the random hot-based friend messaging system for sharing that’s more static. With one tap, Snapchatters can access a series of stories in a highly interactive way. They can swipe up or down and left to right o watch a short film, scroll through a set of photographs, or read quick stories.

Skift talked to Megan Heltzel, content lead for social media at National Geographic Traveler about its contribution to Nat Geo’s initiative on Snapchat. There is a dedicated Snapchat team that creates its daily issues on Discover. This team curates content from its digital verticals: news, video, photography, the magazine, travel, or adventure.

“We’re looking to create exposure and brand awareness [with the initiative]” said Heltzel.

For now, all the content that is being pushed on National Geographic’s Discover channel on Snapchat lives on its website. There is no original content made for this platform, but its evergreen and current pieces are reworked to be Snapchat- and mobile-friendly. This practice is nothing new, but what is unique, is the user experience.

Vertical and horizontal swiping is a way to behaviorally make an impression on users’ minds and keep them longer on Discover. There is a definite learning curve in consuming content this way, but the quality of content on its daily issue is compelling enough to consider another visit.

The five stories that take shape in video loops and full versions; featured photos and captioned galleries; or fun and inspirational content are all devoid of links to the online version or plugins that allow users to like, share, or comment — despite it being a highly social platform.

“By not linking out, it limits the distraction. You [users] are really invested in that day’s issue. It is such a unique platform in that it keeps you [users] in the experience,” Heltzel said.

Time spent and swipes on stories are metrics that can be captured but are only privy to Snapchat and its partners. She claimed that they currently have a positive experience with the platform and audience, but can’t share any data at this time.

When asked about why National Geographic Traveler didn’t have a Snapchat user account, Heltzel mentioned that the company’s effort is focused on making the most of Discover, and will revisit when the time comes.

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Tags: national geographic traveler, snapchat

Photo credit: The daily issue is a mix of swipe-worthy photos, videos and short essays tailored for millennials. National Geographic / Snapchat

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