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Social media wars: why everyone wants to be like Snapchat


Social media wars: why everyone wants to be like Snapchat

The social media landscape is looking a lot like a teen movie. Everyone wants to be like Snapchat. It started when Instagram cloned Snapchat’s main feature and didn’t even bother to hide it calling it Instagram Stories. CEO Kevin Systrom stated when they first released the feature that: “You’re going to see stories pop up in other networks over time because it’s one of the best ways to show visual information in chronological order.” Was he hinting at the fact that WhatsApp and Facebook would soon follow suit?

Why other social media platforms are legally allowed to sneak in on Snapchat’s turf

They see copying from Snapchat as a way of staying competitive. We are moving towards a future where we will no longer refer to customers as social users, but social viewers. It’s not the first time that features have seeped into other platforms: it happened with Twitter’s distinct hashtags and Facebook’s newsfeed.

Legally, other platforms can get away with copying from Snapchat because copyright laws don’t protect a new adaption of the feature because it resembles inherent differences. According to Fast Company, “perhaps the problem is that intellectual property law hasn’t quite caught up to the pitfalls of tech innovation”.

Why Instagram Stories has been a success

In October, Instagram Stories had 100 million daily users and have now hit 150 million. The quick uptake of a feature so different from Instagram’s primary offering proves it met a customer need. Users were also excited about the new feature because they could post more without crowding their feed with multiple posts. According to the Verge: “It lets users complement the heavily curated view of their life with one that is more raw. Instagram has both worlds now, and not just one.”

Why Facebook users will be slow to uptake

Facebook Stories is built into the platform’s core app, and it looks a lot like Instagram Stories. You can upload more than one video or image that will be visible only for 24 hours, or you can send it directly to friends. But what makes Facebook Stories different is that you can post your story on your timeline. According to Fortune: “For older users, this interface can be confusing and even intimidating, but younger users seem to take to it like ducks to water.” But that hasn’t been the case.

Typically, new features on Facebook are greeted with scepticism. Take the failure of Slingshot, Poke, and Riff (which are also Snapchat ripoffs). They are a testament to that scepticism because they failed to gain traction. At face value, not a lot of users are experimenting with the new feature, and people are complaining about the Facebook update on play store. They say it’s glitchy. In retaliation, funny memes, such as Excel will now have stories, are doing the rounds.

How Snapchat should retaliate

It’s yet to be seen if Snapchat will have to compete with Facebook in the video space too, but for now, Snapchat is competing with Instagram’s superior visual quality and more friendly user interface. With a bigger, more established market particularly overseas, Instagram outnumbers Snapchat.

According to Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel: “Everyone is posting way less. Some are not posting at all anymore.” But could this be a good thing? Snapchat caters to a niche market; their core existence appeals to millennials because it doesn’t revolve around likes and subscriptions. Users don’t feel pressured to be the best. And, given that our generation has been warned that, whatever you put on social media will stay there, Snapchat posts won’t come back to haunt you. Ultimately, all social media networks are competing for millennial attention and I guess this is their way of going about it. But if Snapchat wants to be the queen bee of the video sharing space, they need to learn how to adapt and perhaps copy the copycats.

The following questions now hang in the air: will we embrace video-sharing across all platforms, or will we soon get tired of it? Will we have to duplicate stories across multiple platforms and, in turn, will this frustrate our followers? With so many places to tell stories, will we have enough stories to tell?

Don’t go just yet!

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