Own or Clone: How Facebook finds its functionality.

Have you noticed recently that some of your favourite apps are starting to explore some spookily similar features? Ever wondered why you can now post a “story” on almost every social media platform? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. Carys, from our Client Services team, investigates…

It’s no secret that Zuckerberg is out to run the digital world. Facebook already owns three of the top ten social apps – Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram – and the apps he can’t buy, *cough* Snapchat *cough* he not-so-sneakily copies and uses for his own platforms. 

Most notably, Facebook adopted the ‘Story’ feature from Snapchat for Instagram and Facebook. Instagram Stories have since become incredibly popular and used by brands, influencers, and everyday ‘grammers alike. Users are able to share their content and experiences with the world under the caveat that it’ll disappear in 24 hours. It’s a more casual and creative space than your feed, and its poll functionality, stickers, filters, and gifs allow posters to engage with their audience in new and fun ways.

Enter TikTok – have you heard of it? It’s only the app that has everyone and their cat lip-synching, dancing, #acting, and making sketches. It’s like Vine (RIP) on steroids. The app itself used to be called Musical.ly, an app purely for lip-synching that Facebook allegedly tried to buy in late 2016, but was later beat out by ByteDance in 2017 before transforming into the Gen Z-dominated platform we know (and love) today. (Sidenote: already love TikTok and ready to start using it to promote your brand? Check out Fabienne’s blog!)

The most unique part of TikTok is its algorithm and endless-scroll ‘For You’ page – #fyp! The algorithm learns your interests, fears, and deepest desires very quickly and shows you videos based on them. Soon enough you’re in a Tikole (a term actually coined by Puzzle’s very own founder – Francis). Users – especially young adults (41% of TikTok users are aged 16-24) – are more open on this app. They can share an embarrassing story, dance, or skit on a platform separate from their more curated, filtered Instagram presence. 

So when Spark AR announced that they were expanding features and AR capabilities for Instagram, including synchronized AR effects to music, green-screen style effects and more, it seemed like another feature ‘inspired’ by today’s #2 most popular app in the free charts. My first reaction was; ‘will this even work?’

You may get people dancing and lip syncing on their Instagram Stories with these new additions, but really, it’s the discovery features and somewhat chaotic community spirit that has us all doing the ‘Renegade’ on TikTok. Will Facebook’s older demographic, 41% of whom are 65+, embrace a greenscreen duet challenge with the same sense of mischievousness as Gen Z? 

It may well be a fun addition to Stories, that allows for more spontaneous, creative output… but will it take down TikTok the way it conquered Snapchat Stories? 

Only time will tell.

Follow Carys on Instagram here.

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