There is an online digital war going on and consumers are in the middle of the social media war zone. That’s right, social media platforms SnapChat, Facebook and Instagram have been battling over consumers the last two years and making slow but strategic chess moves to lure us away from one social media platform and towards another. As of February 2017, Facebook’s daily active users were around 1.23 billion, Instagram took second place with 400 million and lastly Snapchat took third place with 158 million.
Now lets not forget that amidst this social media triangle, there is actually an intertwined pair, as Facebook owns Instagram. But for chronological sake, let’s start with SnapChat, whose snaps (i.e short video clips) include filters and face customization as well as custom fonts. SnapChat was the original creator of the story platform and has successfully differentiated the way its active users lived in the mobile app by sending personal pictures and video clips to their friends and family, where the clips were played and then gone forever. SnapChat then gave the ability to screenshot a snap and the user could see that their shared picture or video was saved for later use. SnapChat later decided to unveil My Story, which respectively, chronologically saved the user uploads automatically. My Story gave SnapChat users the ability to post pictures, videos and filters to their own daily timeline for all friends and family to review within 24 hours of posting. Furthermore, Snapchat began getting brands, celebrities and publishers to license geotags for daily videos, big events, weddings, tourist areas and etc. This is where users began uploading their material to their story over Facebook’s check-in and thus, where Facebook began to develop their own version.
In 2013 Facebook tried to buy SnapChat for a few billion dollars. SnapChat refused and thus created controversy as they were out to carve their own path instead of being swallowed up by Facebook. Facebook kept quiet about their developers working on Stories and filters and finally debuted their latest features in March of 2017. While many users are wondering about Facebook’s late arrival, Facebook actually watched Instagram successfully start to rival Snapchat and realized with their bigger global audience, they hold the largest number of daily active users and could potentially become the all-in-one social media shop for for the everyday story-goer. In addition to their own creative photo filters and features, Facebook has taken it one step further by enabling multiple filter layers within a single picture. However, we wonder how long it will take Facebook to adopt the celebrity, brands and publishers into stories or if they will truly keep it more personal for friends and family.
Instagram was the first to follow Snapchat’s footsteps by adding video clips to their timeline. This enhanced the sharing ability for Instagram users and used their larger daily active customer base to entice users to try it. Instagram also relied on their more user friendly interface that they claim is easier for the older customer base to understand. The stories a user shares are actually shared to the public by default. In April of 2017, Instagram soon added fun face filters and hashtags to rival Snapchat.
In conclusion, we have just entered what appears to be a multi-year war zone between these two companies, on three different platforms. SnapChat IPO’d in the last year and then announced their latest release of their Spectacle glasses as a wearable into the social media sharing market. This will undoubtedly have a large value of daily active users uploading to their own platform. We wonder what Facebook could be working on with the help of Oculus and where Instagram may be heading in their own pursuit? One thing is for certain, SnapChat will have to continue to diversify itself if they want to make it out of this war zone alive. For now, how each user actively participates via viewing or sharing pictures and videos largely comes down to preferred app choice.
One final question to think about…could this be the decline of Facebook, or does this mean that Facebook can play the longer game and end up with the larger market share to become the one-stop social media shop it’s always wanted to be?
What is your favorite social media platform? Tell us in the comments!