11 Ways to Captivate Your News Audience With Snapchat Stories


Snapchat is broadening its appeal beyond its original fanatical teen base.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week 14 percent of U.S. smartphone users over age 35 now are on Snapchat.

With critical mass achieved and a rapidly growing user base of older millennials and above, mainstream adoption now may be firmly cemented.

Younger fans of the app likely are cringing at the thought of sharing this space with their older counterparts. But, this is good news for those in the media and blogging world who are looking for new ways to reach these previously untapped demographics — in addition to younger generations.

If you’re new to Snapchat, we covered the basics here in our beginner’s guide. Start here if your skills on the app are shaky at best.

If you’re already on board and looking for ways to engage, consider the following for growing your brand and audience through Snapchat stories.


When you take a snap, you either can send to select friends or add to “My Stories.” When you opt for the latter, you’re adding content to a longer thread for your audience to view over 24 hours.

With a plan in place, the feature allows you to create longer stories by piecing together photos and video in sequential order, each up to 10 seconds long.

Ideally, this encourages your audience to stay engaged with you longer. It also can help you determine what keeps people looking at (or leaving) your content.

Did viewers drop off after the third part of your story? Did they stay the whole way through? Pay attention. Without likes or hearts to help you determine the success of your content, this is a great way to gain insight.

Journalists, bloggers and other big media are using the space to share quick news bites, show their personal side, and ultimately gain trust from their audience.

It’s a fun and easy approach, but you don’t want your delivery to appear haphazard.

Here are 11 ways to regularly captivate and inform your audience — beyond live breaking news.

1. Create an explainer series.

Millennials love the news and they care about the issues. But, they consume news very differently. Provide them with the quick facts by creating a series a snaps with fun photos paired with consumable bites of information. For tough topics, like politics, this is an enjoyable way to inform and educate in an immediate way.

the skimm on snapchat

A partial view of The Skimm’s Snapchat quick take on Puerto Rico’s debt and how it affects the US.

2. Ask a trivia question. 

Who doesn’t enjoy a good trivia question? Start the morning off with your audience by asking a true/false or multiple choice question. The question could be relevant to a story you’re writing. Or, it could be related directly to your publication or brand to give viewers a better look at who you are. Spread the question and answers over a few pictures or video snaps to create a trivia-driven thread. When featured regularly and done in a creative way, your viewers may come back for more fun.

3. Conduct quickie interviews. 

Rapid fire Q&A sessions can be an exciting way to have personalized interaction over Snapchat video. Do a quick series of questions with someone you’re already interviewing for a story and share the space around you. You could also opt to pull in your staff to ask them what they’re working on that day, their favorite things, and more.

forbes 30 under 30

Forbes writer Natalie Sportelli goes inside Luke’s Lobster, sharing a quick Q&A with founder Luke Holden.

4. Create a regular feature.

Give your audience something to rely on. A quick weekly or daily segment under a hot topic for your publication or brand can help keep your audience tuned in. Review products or cover the big news of the day and your viewers will keep coming back to see what you feature next.

cbs news daily snapshot

Scenes from CBS News’s daily SNAPshot series with top stories from the day.

5. Put your team in the driver’s seat.

Your Snapchat account shouldn’t just be in the hands of your social or marketing teams. If you have younger staff members who have mastered the app, give them some time in the spotlight. Policies and training will have to be put in place, but the move can equal better engagement.

6. Bring them into your world.

Take your audience behind the scenes to an event you’re attending, the making of a story, or inside your office at a team meeting. Audiences appreciate seeing the personality of a brand — especially on Snapchat — and what better way to show it than through a personalized journey with you. Seeing the work you do helps your credibility and can help drive emotional connections that build trust.

conde nast snapchat

Staff at Condé Nast Traveler take viewers along for the ride – this time on the remastered Queen Mary 2.

new york times chanel show snapchat

New York Times staff at the Chanel couture show in Paris share live video from the set.

7. Host a Snapchat takeover. 

Invite a person of interest or importance to run your account for a few hours. The host could be someone you are featuring in an upcoming story, or could be a representative of a company or brand you are partnering with. A popular activity on Instagram, takeovers can expose your audience to new content, expand your reach, and help foster community. If all goes well, you may get some fresh ideas for your own team on how or what to share going forward.

8. Share a teaser.

Make your Snapchat viewers feel like they are getting special access to otherwise unknown or “top secret” information. Reveal the cover design of an upcoming issue, show pieces of an in-depth story that won’t be released now to your general viewing audience, or share the scoop you have on something upcoming. Your Snapchat viewers will feel as though they are part of something with you. It may even drive them to look for more from you outside of the app.

the verge snapchat

Casey Newton of The Verge offers a peek at the Snapchat Memories feature, available currently to only some users.

9. Focus on the narrative.

Aim to have a beginning, middle and end to your story. In a social world that’s dominated by selfies, concert videos and pictures of food, a story that operates as a narrative has a good chance at standing out. Multiple layers to your story can drive curiosity from your viewers to see the story the whole way through.

10. Push your creative boundaries.

All of the above ideas can look like news from any other social network, if you don’t do it the Snapchat way. Get creative with stickers, filters and the drawing tool. The app’s original intent was to be an unfiltered, goofy space. So, lose any inhibitions you have and focus on having fun. Clichés, jokes, ironic hashtags and puns might not work for your regular content, but can be appropriate here and help you implement a more conversational or humorous tone.

washington post snapchat

Washington Post posts a timely, fun series of Dad jokes for Father’s Day.

11. Ask for feedback.

Because Snapchat is atypical in the social media world, gaining insight and feedback can be a challenge. Get creative when soliciting responses for your viewers. Snapchat allows for some direct person-to-person engagement. You can also see who is taking screenshots of your content. Ask your audience to screenshot what they like from a series of snaps, ask them to chat back a comment, or have them send you a snap that visually how they’re feeling about something in particular. It can help determine what’s resonating, what people care about, and also what to avoid.

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Anna Jasinski is manager of audience relations at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter at @annamjasinski or on Snapchat. You can also catch her sharing the latest news in journalism and blogging on @BeyondBylines.

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