For years now, we’ve bemoaned the fact that Snapchat has made it difficult to search for stories from users you don’t already follow. For those of us looking for inspirational new accounts to follow, the discovery tool has been one asset that always gave Instagram an edge over its competitor. But today, at long last, Snapchat has released “Stories in Search.”
In an update rolling out to select cities today, you’ll be able to search over one million original Stories. (Snapchat is not revealing which cities are lucky enough to get it first.) Just type a keyword for the topic that interests you into the search bar — part of a Snapchat update that was released this January — at the top of the main stories page, and you’ll get related Stories in the results. Those keywords can be anything from “fashion week” or the name of a local sports team to a topic as broad as “puppies.”
While Snapchat introduced its curated “Our Stories” to highlight individual events, this is the first time that users have more control over finding stories on their own.
“Over time, the number of Snaps that were created by our community and added to Our Story simply overwhelmed our curation team — and inspired us to create something new,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the news. “We’ve built a new way to understand what’s happening in Snaps that are submitted to Our Story, and to create new Stories using advanced machine learning.”
While the search tool is limited for now, expect it to expand more broadly as that machine learning technology becomes smarter and is able to identify more Stories by subject matter.
The timing of this rollout was likely planned far in advance of this week’s big Facebook Stories reveal. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting response to the release, which is an evident copycat of the Stories format that Snapchat pioneered.