Snapchat is launching a new feature called “Spotlight,” which will highlight viral public snaps. To encourage posts, Snapchat will pay actual money to people whose posts make it to Spotlight, from a pot of about $1 million every day.
Spotlight is a huge change for Snap: finally, a way to see quality content from strangers (yes, Snap Map already shows you random strangers’ snaps, but it feels more like watching an art installation rather than an algorithmic time suck).
Compared to other platforms, Snapchat has been notoriously closed off to typical influencers and creators because it doesn’t have a discovery engine like Instagram’s Explore page, TikTok’s For You, or YouTube’s recommended videos. The app, founded in 2012, has always had peer-to-peer messaging as its core function, apart from the publishing channels and Snap Map.
Snapchat said its goal is to make the Spotlight page a place where normal people, not just celebrities or influencers, can get on it and even make money. An algorithm (it will be human-moderated but not curated) based on a mix of how many favorites a snap gets, if it’s sent to friends, or skipped partway through will determine which ones rise to the top. (TikTok is like this a little bit, in the sense that lots of random people will have one viral video but not a lot of followers.) The goal is an egalitarian meritocracy, but it seems ripe for Fleets,” which are stories — copied from Instagram, who copied them from Snapchat (Snapchat launched stories back in 2013).
The result is a weird flattening and confusion between the apps. As I casually flipped between Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok on my phone, I found myself constantly confused about where I was. As I mindlessly switched between apps in a fugue state — as I imagine most people do while casually looking at their phone, I realized I was actually on Twitter when I thought I was on Instagram, and watching Reels instead of TikTok.
Now add Spotlight to that rotation.