Snapchat now lets you create custom stories for groups of friends and family

Snapchat is adding the ability to create custom stories limited to specific friends, or to direct contacts and their friends within a geofenced area. These new custom stories otherwise operate just like regular Snapchat Stories, but will disappear entirely if no one within the group adds any updates for 24 hours.

The custom Story feature is a good fit for special occasions, like birthdays or weddings, and can be set up either as a way to share across distances or as a means for getting people actually located in the same spot contributing to the same group Snap pool. Users can create up to three custom Stories of their own, but can participate in an unlimited number of those created by others.

With non-geofenced custom Stories, when you set one up you invite the specific people you want to be able to see and contribute to it. But you can also select additional friends to view those custom Stories, too, if you want some people to be able to watch but not contribute their own Snaps.

On the geofenced story side, you can either choose to let just any friends within the specified area contribute, or you can set it up so that friends of friends can also join in, which is super useful in settings like weddings where the people you’re hanging out with might not be part of your actual Snapchat friends group. Geofenced stories don’t let you specify a separate group with just viewing permissions, so anyone within the geofence that falls into those categories (depending on which you choose) will be able to add to the Story, too.

To make your own custom Story, just head to the Stories page and tap the “Create Story” plus sign icon near the top right of the page. To contribute once you’ve joined a custom Story, look for it under the “My Story” line item in your friends list.

This is a feature that makes a lot of sense given how Snapchat is used during road trips and at special events, and it adds another dimension to the overall app experience that could also help keep people around as the Snapchat user group ages up. Plus, it’s a step ahead of clone competitors – though who knows for how long.

Custom Stories roll out today on iOS, and should follow within a day or so for Snapchat users on Android.