Social Media Giants Are Running Out of Creativity
I think we have begun to see the end of original ideas for social media. Today Facebook announced that they will begin testing “stories” for their Messenger app signifying the end of creativity. Back when Facebook wanted to buy Snapchat in 2013, Evan Speigel declined a $3B offer from Mark Zuckerberg citing his belief that Snapchat had more potential than just being a photo-sharing platform. It seems that Zuckerberg thought that too. Snapchat today has, according to their website, 100 million daily active users, and while it would be safe to say that most of those users also interact with Facebook on a daily basis, Snapchat is becoming the social media king. So what can Facebook do? They can’t beat it, they can’t kill it, what’s the last option? Copy it.
In a sad attempt to compete with Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and Facebook owned Instagram have introduced “stories,” literally the exact same name that Snapchat created years ago. These stories, which last only 24 hours and can be viewed by everyone you are friends with, fill the exact same void that Snapchat has been filling for years already. The reason these stories have been so successful, according to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom is because the “younger users have a place where you feel free to post whatever you want without the nagging fear of, did someone like that or not?” So in an attempt to give younger users less anxiety about social media, Instagram has added a “non-like” feature through stories. So thoughtful guys!
But with Snapchat appealing to the younger users with their platform that allows users to post without having to worry about social acknowledgement through likes and public view count, advertising has been a bit more difficult. Instagram and Facebook don’t have an issue with advertising because all of their content, up until the introduction of stories, is not limited to a time period. Snapchat has introduced “Discover” recently which allows advertisers to display content for longer periods of time however in an attempt to appeal to more advertising dollars. So if you think about it, Instagram is trying to become more like Snapchat, while Snapchat is trying to become more like Instagram. And while users continue to interact with multiple social media platforms, the line of differentiating factors will continue to overlap. The perfect platform has yet to be identified but when it does, there will be a whole pile of money waiting to be collected.