At the beginning of this month, social media users experienced a little (and by a little, I mean, a lot) déjà vu with the introduction of Instagram Stories. Facebook didn’t even bother to create a new name for their “borrowed” feature, making it very clear they are taking aim at Snapchat.
Could this be the beginning of the end for Snapchat? Facebook has definitely targeted Snapchat before. However, it may be the first time that the future of the live stories app could actually be in danger.
A History of Social Shots Fired
Snapchat is no stranger to being caught in Facebook’s crosshairs. In fact, Instagram Stories is just the latest of one of Facebook’s botched (and pretty desperate) attempts at killing off the live video app.
In December 2012, Facebook announced its new app called Poke. You could send pictures and videos that would self-destruct. You could draw over the pictures and also would receive a notification if another user screenshotted your content (No, I promise we’re not talking about Snapchat right now). By the Spring of 2014, Facebook killed Poke.
This is not the first time that Facebook has tried to kill off Snapchat. One of Facebook’s desperate clone attempts was Slingshot. Users could take a photo, color on it, add big white text and send it to friends (sound familiar?). The catch was that it used a ‘pay-to-play’ model, whereby users could not open pictures from friends unless they sent them. Three months from its launch in the summer of 2014, the app was killed off.
Instagram Bolt was only available in New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa when it initially launched in July of 2014. This app had the intention of allowing users to send short-lived photos and videos to others that will self-destruct with a swipe (I know, I know, This one sounds like Snapchat too!).
The Perilous Life of Snapchat
So far, the live video juggernaut has done a great job of carving their own path in the future of social media. However, just because Facebook has failed to successfully kill off Snapchat, doesn’t mean this isn’t the mortal wound Facebook has been looking to deliver.
Snapchat is a social media pioneer; one of the few originals. The same way Facebook made a “feed” the main staple of social media, is the same way Snapchat made slideshow communication popular. We should expect to see many other social networks to adopt a story-like feature if they haven’t already.
Right now, Snapchat has no user discovery tools. The only way you can find Snapchat users is if you have their username or Snapcode. You don’t find recommendations of whom you should follow as you do on other apps.
Instagram has all of Facebook’s data at its disposal, which is a huge advantage. Could it be possible that even if Snapchat does finally introduce a discovery-type feature, it will be too late and users will have moved on?
Though more snaps are sent than IG posts per day, Instagram has about double the active users than Snapchat has (400M vs 200M, respectively). Many people already have amassed large followings on IG. If they are only going to post on one social media site, it is going to be the one that they have the most followers on.
Users are already used to seeing ads and promoted posts across Facebook and Instagram. Snapchat has tried to implement monetization methods, but it’s going to take users a little bit to accept the change.
Survivor: Social Media Edition
All hope is not over for Snapchat. Some of the same concerns I just gave could be reasons Snapchat will stand the test of social network time.
No, there isn’t a traditional feed or post structure. No, there are no navigational tabs to take you from section to section of the app. And no, the app doesn’t use likes or reshares for a user to base their worth or post success on.
But yes, Snapchat breaks social media networking norms. The untraditional social network model attracts the younger demographic; long tired of having to present a perfect version of themselves online. The live video maven doesn’t require users to measure their social worth in likes or retweets. For younger users, Snapchat eases the “what you post online is online forever” mindset.
Perhaps it is Snapchat’s “shortcomings” that make that much more sustainable. Instagram Stories are eerily identical to Snapchat Stories. Facebook showed they think this is a battle already won by not even giving the feature an original name. But don’t hold your breath, Zuckerberg.
At least for now, Snapchat will remain the live content app for those of us who are young, tech-savvy, and mobile-heavy users. Snapchat will live on for users who don’t need to be walked through every step of using an app. Most importantly, the app will remain for a growing demographic of teens and young adults that are “embarrassed to even be associated with [Facebook].”