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The core idea behind this new - albeit long awaited feature - provides quick access to existing contacts, but you can also use it to find other users.
When you tap in the search bar on the Camera screen, Snapchat will bring up a screen with the search field at the top. Enter a name of a user, contact, or someone you'd like to quickly find. If you haven't added the person, you'll be given the option to add him or her. This is a big move in finding new friends but also to search for Discover Stories and brands.
Social media has been lukewarm to this news with some people describing it as “pretty useful”, to some calling it “ugly". Below is my two pence on the move.
The obvious plus about this move is that it makes it easy to find your friends. Snapchat for all its great capabilities in design and lenses has typically been stymied by the lack of flexibility in being able to find friends. As opposed to platforms such as Facebook where finding friends is incredibly easy, or on Instagram where one can find recommended pages linked with their interests or from their contact book, Snapchat could be described as a silo form of networking in which one got no help at all in finding new users.
The rationale for this search bar benefits Snapchat in two ways:
The relative difficulty of navigation of Snapchat in some counter intuitive way actually led to it being seen as the cool kid platform - the whole idea being that if its hard for the 'old guys' to figure out, maybe this will thwart them from joining. By making it easy to find users, the barrier to entry from a functionality perspective has been reduced making it more accessible to an older audience. For Snapchat, this bodes well. As a company that's about to go public, there is a need to be able to display revenue potential by showing businesses it can be more than a niche audience (13 - 24) and cater towards greater audiences, to above the 25 year olds.
As a summary, this is a great move by Snapchat towards becoming a more open community for both consumers and brands.
For consumers, it provides a quicker way to increase connections and therefore, retention, whilst for brands, its a large step towards growing branded Snapchat audiences much quicker and not having to promote their Snapchat content elsewhere before being able to grow.
It appears we’re going to be seeing more of these moves towards a more open community for consumers and brands. As they gear towards their IPO, this can only bode well for all parties involved.