Amid economic and regulatory headwinds swirling around social media giants like Meta, Twitter and TikTok, Snap is zooming in on what it does best — AR and local discovery. Positioning Snapchat as an AR-driven, non-toxic social platform, Snap continues to set itself apart from rival social platforms with a thriving creator economy and a young-skewing audience.
At the latest Snap Partner Summit, the company highlighted many existing brand-friendly features of Snapchat while introducing a slew of new features engineered to help it achieve its ultimate ambition — supplying the software layer for upcoming AR headsets.
Snapchat Doubles Down on Local Discovery
Local discovery has shifted in recent years from keyword-based Google searches and Yelp reviews to a more organic, socially driven process. About 40% of Gen Z is now using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google, according to Google’s own data, and that is especially true when it comes to discovering local businesses. Given Snapchat’s popularity among Gen Z — Snap shared that 90% of 13 to 24-year-olds in the U.S. are using Snapchat — and their shifting search preferences, it is no wonder that Snap has decided to double down on features designed to help users discover local businesses through stories, spotlights, and peer recommendations.
To begin with, Snap Map, the built-in map in Snapchat, has some new features that are rolling out soon. For example, a feature called Top Picks has been added to Snap Map, which highlights recommendations of noteworthy events and businesses nearby and will be updated dynamically based on user interests.
Snap also added new Place Tags as a creator tool, making it easier for users to tag local businesses in their Spotlight snaps (aka TikTok-style short videos) for one-click discovery through Snap Map. We expect to see an uptick in user-generated local recommendations stemming from Snap’s announcement that all users 18 and older are now able to post public stories on the platform.
Beyond the new map features, the Lens Carousel — the row of AR lenses available upon opening Snapchat — has also been updated to fit in more features that will improve discovery. Lenses are now organized by categories for easier browsing, and the carousel can now suggest the best AR lens to match the content dynamically (e.g. a “goodnight” filter if the camera is pointed at the night sky). Considering the amount of AR lenses available on Snapchat today, which the company estimated to be around 3 million, a set of more sophisticated discovery features is very much needed to not only help users find the right lens to use but also to open the door for sponsored placement of branded lenses for better visibility and relevance.
Key Takeaways: Brands with retail locations should be tapping into social-driven discovery to drive visits via Snap Map, and brands that have created AR lenses should consider how to surface them to the right audience with new discovery features in the Lens Carousel.