Snapchat opens the door to collaboration with multi-user Stories

Just weeks after dialing back on its trademark ephemerality, Snapchat has made another update to its Stories platform. The app will now allow users to stitch together their own videos and photos with that of their friends to create collaborative custom Stories.

Where other social networks, like Snap’s rival Instagram, are often touted as platforms where users cultivate or engage with communities in quite a public way, Snapchat has prided itself on providing what it sees as a more authentic experience. Since it's launch the app has sought to establish itself as a place to interact with friends, and the new update takes this one step further.

Starting from today, users from around the globe can invite friends, or friends of friends, to contribute to their Story within the app to showcase videos or pictures in a chronological order. This can be done by selecting people from their contact book or by way of Geofencing – which in Snapchat terminology means inviting people within a set radius to add to the Story.

In a glossy video to promote the new feature (above), Snapchat appears to be pushing the multi-Story capabilities as a tool to share moments from a specific event, such as a holiday or a wedding where those attending are likely to be sharing pictures or video.

If users select people they already know to participate in the Story, there is room for it to be used as a medium to share things like baby Snaps or graduation pictures with family members in a news feed-style setting.

Custom Stories will appear alongside ordinary ones on the Stories tab within the app, and will disappear if no one has contributed to the Story in the past 24 hours, or if the creator deletes the Story.

Snapchatters can contribute to an unlimited number of Stories at any time, but can only be a creator for three custom Stories at a time.

Snapchat has been serving vertical video ads between Stories since 2016, and as with ordinary Stories branded films will be shown at the end of custom ones. The app has also been turning its focus towards its crowdsourced Our Stories platform of late, partnering with the likes of Turner to showcase coverage from March Madness.

Custom Stories gives Snapchat a unique proposition, which presents the company with opportunity to fight off competition from Facebook and Instagram - both of which have aped its Stories feature.

Speaking at Ad Week Europe last year, Snap's vice-president of content, Nick Bell, pointed out that the app was built upon the idea of mobility, and adding the ability to share moments and collaborate with friends within the app appears to build upon this idea.

“The word authenticity is overused,” he said at the time. “We don’t surface vainity metrics because it’s not about trying to capture that perfect sunset to see how many likes you receive… It’s more about removing the pressure that social media has created.”

A few weeks ago Snap stepped up the challenge to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with a host of new camera tools including Limitless Snaps, which allows users to share images with select friends for an infinite amount of time.

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