Social media are evolving much more quickly than we could have imagined. Initially designed as simple platforms for putting people in touch with one another when they were launched, they have rapidly generated interest among users, who have seen them as a quick and easy way of distributing increasingly rich content: photos, videos, surveys, links…
Recently, live broadcasting ‒ introduced by Periscope and popularized with Facebook Live Video ‒ has become a major focus.
In this general landscape, one of the firms on the market is as intriguing as it is dominant: Snapchat, an app that is undergoing a major transformation and enables subscribers to share ephemeral content. With almost 150 million users each day, Snapchat is frustrating the competition thanks to its success and its particularly dominant position with young people. But will its reign as master of the Social Media world last for much longer?
Competition haunted by the specter of Snapchat
Concerned about issues with the confidentiality of content shared online, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, two US students and would-be entrepreneurs, launched “Snapchat” in September 2011. By 2015, it had become the world’s most widely used messaging app. What makes it stand out? Being able to send your friends messages, photos and short videos that will only be able to be viewed a limited number of times. On the face of it, this practice seemed quite curious, but it was very quickly adopted by web users, who wanted to chat with total discretion and even send fun or compromising photos with the utmost secrecy.
The introduction of the “Stories” feature in 2013 opened up new uses, with photo and video series that are only visible for just 24 hours. Widely used by influencers to talk about their day-to-day adventures, the main standout feature with this new format is that it has made it possible to attract users back to the app several times a day. Success guaranteed: the company can now claim to occupy its subscribers for 25 to 30 minutes per day on average.
Instagram recently launched Stories, a direct rival to Snapchat.
Jealous of the performance achieved by Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook have decided to respond by also offering new services. On August 2, Instagram’s teams announced the launch of Stories, photo and video compilations that self-destruct after 24 hours. Sound familiar? This is normal: in these compilations “thought up” by Instagram, we can find everything that has contributed to the success of Stories on Snapchat, minus the crazy filters and geolocation. While this upgrade is appreciated, recent research found that 75% of users are not yet ready to leave Snapchat for Instagram.
Similarly, and also this summer, Facebook unveiled an exclusive new app at the end of August for Apple devices: Lifestage. With its colorful interface and its network created specifically with students in mind ‒ schools are being gradually added to it ‒, Lifestage offers an identical service, with personalized videos and kitsch stickers. Only difference: all the messages shared are public and can be viewed by anyone. Somewhat ironically, Facebook is warning its users to be vigilant.
Although already saturated, the market is expected to welcome a new player on board soon. According to the US site Bloomberg, Apple plans to release its own version of Snapchat in 2017. This new service could be a success if it is integrated into its future devices from the outset. But it is still not certain whether web users who are already on other platforms will be willing to move and leave their cozy nests behind them for new horizons.
Because Snap Inc., the parent company behind Snapchat, definitely has a lot more to say. A few days ago, it unveiled its latest project: Spectacles, a pair of sunglasses halfway between Google Glasses and a GoPro. Once available, they will enable users to record memories in an innovative video format – circular videos – and their demos have been particularly satisfactory!
Spectacles, the latest innovation from the creators of Snapchat.
“With almost 150 million users each day, Snapchat is frustrating the competition with its success and its particularly dominant position with young people.”