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Eight lessons from Cosmopolitan on publishing to Snapchat Discover

One of the lessons for Cosmopolitan following the brand’s wildly successful launch on Snapchat Discover just short of 2.5 years ago was that “you have to dig beyond analytics to find out what [users] are saying about your editions and what they really care about”.

Cosmo now boasts tens of millions of views per month on the channel, most of them from women between the ages of 13-24. No wonder then it is often held as a prime example of how publishers should think about and approach the channel.

Amy Odell, editor of, told FIPP via email “the addictive nature of Cosmopolitan’s content and Snapchat’s platform makes the brands a perfect fit for one another.” At Cosmo, Amy oversees the website, Snapchat Discover, video, and social media.

Amy Odell Cosmo ()

Cosmo was a Snapchat Discover launch partner back in January 2015. The original decision to launch was ‘a no brainer’, Amy explains. “Snapchat is a dazzling product with a huge audience. Our readers have been addicted to it for years so joining was a no brainer. Additionally, it presented a valuable business opportunity since our advertisers want to be there along with us.”

For those unfamiliar with Snapchat Discover, there are a number of considerations for other publishers from Cosmo’s experiences so far, which Amy shares here.

1. Reach out to the mobile audience

“Cosmo’s followers are mobile-first – they’re always on their phones, chatting with their friends, sharing things they find online, and looking at social media. It’s important we reach our audience every place they like to spend time, and Snapchat is absolutely one of those places.” In fact, “it’s important for Cosmo to have a strong presence on every major social platform that appeals to young women.”

2. Employ brand voice consistently

Cosmo’s Snapchat channel consists of “a mix of articles and videos created specifically for Discover and articles and videos that have run on our website and other social platforms, all with original 10-second topsnaps, which I like to think of as a ‘mini-movie trailer’ for each piece of content. 

“The goal is to speak to the Snapchat user through the voice Cosmo has honed across its digital channels. I describe Cosmo as every young woman’s smartest, funniest, most insightful friend, and that’s what we are on Snapchat too.”

3. Be a trusted friend

“Our readers love funny share snaps they can share with their friends,” says Amy. But “they’re also very into beauty, relationships, and sex advice and service. For example, a lot of our Snapchat readers are figuring out what kind of birth control they should use for the first time in their lives, and come to Cosmo for help with these very personal decisions.”

4. Measure for success

There are many ways to measure success on Discover. According to Amy, they “monitor completion rate closely to make sure our readers are getting through our editions, which contain 16 pieces of content every day. We also monitor daily uniques to see how many people we’re getting into the editions every day, shares of individual content pieces, and swipe up rate.”

5. Listen to the audience

“Snapchatters really want to be heard. You have to dig beyond the analytics to find out what they’re saying about your editions and what they really care about. Many of our most loyal users find a way to send us feedback – often on Twitter or another social platform – and we are constantly checking to see what makes them the most excited about our Discover channel,” says Amy.

6. Monetise through ad partnerships

Cosmo sells themed editions to advertisers. “For instance, 50 Shades of Grey is one of our partners and we created content around a ‘girls night out’ theme for them, to great success.”

7. Put a top team in place

“Madeline Haller is the lead editor of our team – she oversees the whole operation day to day and does a fantastic job. She’s supported by a team of designer/animators who make all the top snaps, an editor who helps her curate and create content for the editions, and a writer/video editor, Julia Pugachevsky, who creates pieces specifically for the Discover audience.

8. And be ready to evolve, pivot at any time

Finally, in response to what next for Cosmo on Discover, Amy says “design always evolves on Discover – we’re constantly trying to improve the sophistication of our design while retaining the relatable, funny voice of the editions. As with any digital platform, what works can stop working at any moment, but we are ready to pivot our strategy where necessary on any platform Cosmo appears on.”

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