College Students Weigh in on Snapchat’s Discover

January 30, 2015

10:00 am

Three days ago, Snapchat sent its users a “snap” explaining the new Discover feature, which brings news from CNN, ESPN, Cosmopolitan, and other media outlets right to the app.

“Discover is new, but familiar. That’s because Stories are at the core – there’s a beginning, middle, and end so that editors can put everything in order. Every edition is refreshed after 24 hours – because what’s news today is history tomorrow,” reads an excerpt from its latest blog post.

It’s easy-to-use and well-designed, but what are college students and recent graduates saying about Discover? Some say it will be a turning point for Snapchat:

  • It Seems “Legit: “For the first time it made me think of Snapchat as a credible app after having support from major news outlets…” says Spencer Youngman, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Design is On Its Side: “It’s a lot more appealing than a news website where it’s all text,” says Vansh Dassani, a sophomore at Cornell University. Connor Scalleat, a freshman at Pace University, agrees, “The dynamic, bite-sized, and multi-media rich format in which the stories, videos, and pictures are presented is brilliant and works smoothly on Apple’s latest processor.”
  • Leading the Pack: “They make content marketing cool, I think the new Discover feature places Snapchat as an industry leader,” says Ashley Obasi who graduated from Syracuse University in 2014.
  • It’s Not Intrusive: “They’ve pulled it off well by making it opt-in for the user though the Discover button,” says Evan Maclin, a Cornell University graduate.
  • It’s Not About What’s Popular: “The most incredible part is they’re delivering content the way that the editors and professionals want us to see it rather than appealing to the clicks, shares, and likes …” says Matt Misbin, who graduated from Boston College.


The number one reason why college students liked Snapchat was because it’s fast and the focus is on news:

“I checked out CNN and ESPN earlier today and got a quick synopsis of what’s going on,” says Zac Hardwick, a junior at Dartmouth College.

“Instant and easy, exactly what our generation expects. I’m gonna make a bold prediction: Snapchat’s Discover page becomes a go-to for people on the toilet,” says Austin Kevitch, a 2014 graduate of Bucknell University.

“I think it could be a great way for millennials to learn about the world – instead of taking pictures of themselves,” says Zach Weiss, a Syracuse University graduate.


While most of the consensus was positive, Snapchat still needs to make some improvements:

  • It’s “glitchy”: “Snapchat should focus on fixing bugs in its app and getting that really polished before moving onto to Discover…They’ve gone from stuffing a really different feature into existing UX with Snapcash, to building essentially an entire app within their app,” says Ross Lazerowitz, a senior at Syracuse University.
  • Will it Actually Become a News Tool?: “I think that the average college student is still using Facebook as their news aggregator of choice. From my experience, Snapchat is purely used as a communication tool, and I don’t think that Discover is going to be able to change that,” says Aaron Goldstein, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • They’ve Taken Away the “True Magic”: “To me, Discover seems like highlight reel of ads that steps away from the simplicity that made Snapchat so exciting to use when it first hit the App Store,” says Nikita Dubnov, a sophomore at Cornell University.
  • Where is the Authenticity?: “I’m not sold quite yet because I feel like the current Discover content from their partners (ESPN, Vice, etc) misses the authenticity that a ‘Snap’ brings,” says Scott Friedberg, a senior at Syracuse University.
  • What’s the Focus of the App Exactly? “..My only complaint is that it just seems so out of Snapchat’s element of just easy communication with friends,” says Julie Luizzi, a senior at Miami University who liked the Cosmopolitan Section.
  • Is it Compelling Enough? “It has some really cool features, but ultimately I’m not sure if has done enough to enhance peoples’ experiences to read news and discover with brands. But we’ll see,” says Ricky Panzer, who graduated from Cornell in 2013.
  • Most of Us Know It’s for Ads: “I’m not sure if it will catch on but I do know that when apps have a section for advertisement that’s where they make most of their money so the new Discover feature is going to be interesting to see how long it will be there,” says Aaron Frye, who graduated from North Carolina A&T.

So are Evan Spiegel and the Snapchat team onto something with the new ‘Discover’ feature? Will people use it? Will it last in the long-term? One thing is for sure – Discover is WAY better than Snapcash.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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Amanda Quick is a tech/startup reporter covering young entrepreneurs for Tech Cocktail. She's also interested in covering apps, emerging technology, IoT and beauty & wellness. Amanda is currently in grad school at Syracuse University studying Information Management. In the past she has interned at NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, Brand-Yourself, and the Times Leader Newspaper as well as worked at WWNY-TV and the StartFast Venture Accelerator in Upstate New York. Amanda is originally from Kansas City, MO but has also lived in Canton, MA and Scranton, PA. To learn more you can visit Like Amanda on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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