Snapchat, looking to stay a step ahead of rival Facebook, is finally adding a search function for Stories — the 24-hour photo and video posts users can share on the app.
The move by Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, is aimed at getting users to spend more time in the app by opening up a wealth of content: More than 1 million Stories users have shared publicly can now be searched. Snap went public earlier this month in a boffo IPO, but the share price has since fallen below the exuberant initial highs.
Snapchat first launched Stories in October 2013, and Facebook over the last few months has copied the popular feature in its apps for Facebook, FB Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
In October 2014, Snapchat launched “Our Story,” a selection of shared Stories curated by a dedicated team. Those have primarily been tied to specific events and locations, like the Super Bowl. The company explained that it decided to introduce search because, “Over time, the number of Snaps that were created by our community and added to Our Story simply overwhelmed our curation team,” Snap said in a blog post announcing the feature.
The search feature for Snapchat Stories is rolling out Friday, starting in select U.S. cities. Snap offered up some examples of what that will let you do: “Watch a local basketball game, check out the scene at your favorite bar, view your favorite Fashion Week shows, get inspired by a faraway place, or simply tap through a Story full of puppies,” the company said.
Snap noted that users can keep their Stories from being searchable by ensuring that they share them only with their friends — rather than everyone on Snapchat.
The search feature uses machine-learning algorithms to analyze attributes like caption text, time and visual elements. Snapchat Stories found through search are in addition to the curated Our Stories section, as well as Publisher Stories and Shows from media partners in the Snapchat Discover sections throughout the app.
Snapchat averaged 158 million daily active users for the fourth quarter of 2016, up 48% from the year-earlier period but only a 3% increase from 153 million in Q3. In December 2016, 43% of Snapchat’s daily active users were in North America (69 million out of 161 million worldwide).
Watch a demo of Snapchat’s search feature: