Wattpad, the social publishing platform behind apps for sharing original stories and chat fiction, is today venturing into video with the launch of a new app called Raccoon. Unlike its predecessors, Raccoon will focus on non-fiction video-based storytelling, with the goal of connecting people who want to create and watch stories that either entertain or inspire.
While Raccoon still fits within Wattpad’s broader mission of building modern-day storytelling products for web and mobile, the app feels like a more social experience. Instead of reading stories from authors whose real identities are often hidden behind handles, watching a Raccoon video is more like tuning into a YouTube vlog. The storyteller is right there on the screen, sharing something personal with you.
At launch, you can favorite stories by tapping a heart, or post them outside the app by clicking the share button, but Raccoon (perhaps smartly) doesn’t offer a commenting feature at this time.
If you want to participate in the community by posting your own video, you can click the plus sign at the bottom of the app to start recording. For those who aren’t sure what to talk about, there’s also an “I need inspiration” button that offers a story prompt.
Each week, there are new story challenges in the form of prompts. For example, this week, Raccoon is prompting users to share their travel stories. If the weekly challenge isn’t of interest, you can swipe left for more ideas, like “what’s unique about your family?,” “share a memorable childhood experience,” “share your biggest Tinder-fail,” “share a funny story that happened at work,” etc.
These stories are tagged, so you can find more of the same while browsing the app.
While recording, you can see when your video hits the 60-second mark – a subtle reminder that Raccoon wants videos that are only a minute or two long.
The app was developed out of Wattpad’s internal incubator, Wattpad Labs, which is also where its newer chat fiction app Tap got off the ground. Today, that app is the #7 app in the Books category on the App Store, just a couple of spots behind Wattpad itself. It has since grown to include over 300,000 stories. Meanwhile, Wattpad’s monthly audience is now 60 million.
However, both Wattpad apps on the App Store are trailing two other top chat fiction apps, Hooked and Yarn.
“Wattpad’s vision is to entertain and connect the world through stories, and as part of this we are constantly looking for innovative ways to evolve the storytelling process,” explains company co-founder Ivan Yuen about Wattpad’s move into video. “We know that video will play an important role in the future of storytelling and wanted to create a place where storytellers can authentically connect with audiences around shared experiences,” he adds.
The new app is designed to appeal to those aged 18 to 35. This age group, Yuen says, is already accustomed to the Snapchat’s and Musical.ly’s short, vertical video format, but are craving “more substance and meaningful connections with people,” he believes.
Raccoon has been in testing in Canada ahead of today’s launch. The app is now available in the U.S. on both iOS and Android.