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Snapchat users could get paid for their content someday

In social media, your platform is only as good as the content your users create on it.

Snapchat is keenly aware of this. When you open the app, it goes directly to the camera, giving users a nudge to take a video or photo right away. It’s not for passive observation. And as the hottest platform on the planet, the strategy is clearly working. But what about in a few years, when the Next Big Thing is stealing its users’ attention? How will Snapchat keep people snapping?

Pay them.

According to a patent application published last week, Snapchat has considered a “revenue-sharing” scenario, in which brands would pay users for their content. “For example, a user image may be added to a gallery sponsored by Coca Cola and in return for contributing to Coca Cola’s gallery, a user may receive compensation on a flat-fee, per view or revenue share basis,” says the patent, which was filed in December 2014 but just made public. (The Los Angeles Time first spotted the application.)

The bulk of the patent focuses on the use of algorithms, and image and audio recognition to scan users’ photos and videos. This would allow Snapchat to ramp up its Live Stories feature, which curates and displays content from events like music festivals and sports games. Right now, Live Stories is primarily dependent on humans to manage the content.

Companies file patents all the time, of course, and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever use them. Snapchat declined to comment.

But this patent application indicates that Snapchat has been considering alternative ways to keep users engaged, something every social media site struggles with at some point as it grows. Twitter has had well-documented problems growing its user base, and even Snapchat has more daily users now. The mighty Facebook hasn’t been immune either. According to The Information, in mid-2015, original posts from users declined 5.5% from the previous year, and “original broadcast sharing” (announcing big life events, like engagements) plummeted 21% over the same period.

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