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  • Writer's pictureAlexis Morillo

IGTV vs. Snapchat Subscriptions: The Journalistic Potential of New Features

This week I took a closer look into two of the newest features on Instagram and Snapchat: Instagram TV (IGTV) and Snapchat subscriptions.

These two platforms allow users to upload video and share it publicly, or privately with just their friends depending on privacy settings. As mobile and social media journalists, new mobile device features such as these must always be assessed for their journalistic potential.


Instagram TV is the newest of these two platforms. Released in June 2018, this feature allows for video uploads to be shown on a seperate tab within one’s Instagram app or by using the outside, downloadable IGTV smartphone ap. The IGTV tab within the Instagram app has four separate page tabs: Following, Popular, For You, and Continue Watching.

IGTV categorizes video based on who you follow and what's trending. The "For You" tab collects content for you based on who you follow and what posts you like.

It’s hard to see what the draw of using IGTV as a journalists over a different platform could be. Twitter, Vimeo, Snapchat and plain, old Instagram stories are all reliable options for journalistics to tease content and post more brand-related content. It’s also important to note that only some features of IGTV are open to all users. Ten minute video uploads are open to everyone, but only verified accounts can post up to 60 minutes of content. Like all new platforms, there are various pros and cons to using IGTV for reporting purposes.

Pros of IGTV:

  • Comments section makes it easy to engage with audiences

  • Longer videos allow users to get more information about a previous post or story

  • Content lasts longer than 24 hours

Cons of IGTV:

  • Similar platform to Youtube

  • More features available only to verified accounts, can be a challenge for small market reporters to get exclusive features

  • Audience is more likely to just use Instagram stories than IGTV

Snapchat Subscriptions

On the other hand, I can definitely see why media outlets would want to take full advantage of Snapchat subscriptions. Through Snapchat you can friend or follow your favorite individual journalists. Snapchat allows a journalist to post videos or photos of behind the scenes footage of their reporting.

Snapchat also makes pre-made filters that could be used to start a conversation. These filters can be used to initiate discussion, and if the journalist’s account is public they can publish to a public story where everyone in the area can watch.

Pre-made filters on Snapchat can give you a discussion topic and allow you to upload to a public story for users — even users you aren't friends with/following — to watch.

Media outlets can also make Snapchat stories that users can subscribe to. For example, I’m subscribed to my Cosmopolitan daily horoscope and Buzzfeed Tasty. I do find that a lot of the content pushed on Snapchat subscriptions by outlets can be a bit click-baity or listicle-based. A lot of the long form pieces probably get clicked through since Snapchat is an “on-the-go” social media platform. I would say Snapchat works better on an individual level, to share personal, conversational content when reporting your stories.

Pros of Snapchat subscriptions:

  • Easy to find, and can be watched right underneath Snapchat friends’ stories → no additional app or page needs to be opened

  • Content is more conversational, candid and behind-the-scenes

  • Snapchat filters allow journalists to become a part of bigger conversations through public stories.

Cons of Snapchat subscriptions:

  • Because of the nature of the platform, media outlets might create clickbait material

  • You are unable to crop the end of a video so if you make a mistake you must retake the entire video

  • Less audience-journalist engagement because there is no open comments section

Which social media feature do you think has the most journalistic potential?

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