Snapchat live stories as seen in Norway on Sunday, 8 May 2016, in the afternoon.

Snapchat’s Live Stories are stories that Snapchat curates from snaps submitted by users who are in a location temporarily designated as a Live Story area, and they are usually about festivals, sports events, elections or special celebrations. Sometimes (quite often?) they are sponsored. There seem to never be more than five Live Stories on a particular day, and they’re very prominently featured in the Snapchat app. They’re often distributed globally. However, I’ve found the Live Stories to be very US-centric: most are from US events, or they are about a celebration or a city outside of the US that is narrated in English as though to a global-in-an-Anglo-American-kind-of-way audience. People are really eager for their snap to be picked to be in a live story, and learn how to create a snap targeted at the right audience.

So let’s assume Snapchat through Live Stories has a lot of power. A year ago, a Snapchat live story, distributed globally, got an average of 20 million views in a 24 hour window, according to Ben Schwerin, Snapchat’s director of partnerships. That’s not so much compared to a big televised show that is broadcast internationally (the Eurovision Song Contest gets 200 million views, the Superbowl about 110 million), but Snapchat releases live stories every day. Remember also that Snapchat viewers are mostly in the 13-24 year old age range, so 20 million of that cohort is significant. Probably the number of viewers has increased in the last year.

If Live Stories are watched by a high percentage of young people, it becomes pretty interesting to think about what kind of stories are being distributed. Last weekend, one of Snapchat’s Live Stories was from the huge, annual high school graduation party in Norway. Norwegian high schoolers celebrate their graduation for a month on end, dressing in red, driving around in red-painted vans and busses, partying and playing crazy games – they’re called russ. Landstreffet is the annual festival where russ from around the country all get together and have a huge weekend-long party with concerts and so on.

So the Snapchat live story was from Landstreffet, but didn’t really explain what russ were, and to me seemed like yet another boring festival story. At 44, I’m not quite the target audience. There aren’t often live stories from Scandinavia though, and I was curious about how broadly the story spread, so asked on Snapchat and Twitter. It seems that yesterday (May 9), the day after the concert, the story was distributed throughout Europe, but not beyond. I heard from people in Switzerland, Denmark, Spain and the UK who saw the story, but friends in Singapore, Australia, Brazil and the USA did not.

Here are some of the screenshots they sent me. You’ll notice that London and New York have city-specific live stories as well. People in Chicago didn’t get the America’s Cup: NYC story, though maybe other Americans did. Chicagoans have their own Chicago story every single day though.

Snapchat Live Stories as seen in London on Sunday, 8 May 2016.
Snapchat Live Stories as seen in London on Sunday, 8 May 2016, morning.
Snapchat Live Stories as seen in Lausanne, Switzerland, Sunday 8 May, 2016, morning.
Snapchat Live Stories as seen in Lausanne, Switzerland, Sunday 8 May, 2016, morning. (Greyed out because they haven’t been loaded yet.)

The Mother’s Day story, We Love Mom! (note the US spelling) did not show up until mid-morning in the US, and mid-afternoon European time, so probably it was released everywhere at the same time. Australians apparently didn’t get it at all, although it was Mother’s Day there too, though half a day earlier than in the US due to the time difference.

Snapchat Live Stories as seen in New York City, Sunday 8 May, 2016.
Snapchat Live Stories as seen in New York City, Sunday 8 May, 2016.

OK; so we had these kinds of Live Stories that weekend:

  • city stories
  • Mother’s Day, which does include international content, though none from Asia or Australia, but which is not released until Asia/Australia already have finished their Mother’s Day. It is also released to countries that didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day on 8 May, like Norway.
  • RuPaul’s DragCon – this is a convention for a US reality TV show where drag queens compete for the prize. I had confirmation that this showed up in Australia, Singapore, throughout Europe, Brazil, and the USA, so I am guessing it was simply global.
  • Kentucky Derby – a horse racing event. This was also global, it seems, as far as my Twitter and Snapchat informants could tell.
  • Music Norway / Landstreff

And although I didn’t much enjoy the Landstreff Live Story, lots of people on Twitter said they did, mostly without realising the Landtreff is a closed party for high school graduates.


More on this later, I think.

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