Snapchat's New Test

In modern social media era, you have two options: die young, or live long enough to turn into Facebook.

Snap – is the parent company of Snapchat and it seems to hade down the latter path. After an unsatisfactory income report which sent the company’s stock dropping by nearly 25 percent. Snap announced an all-encompassing strategy change that enclosed more than a few hints of Facebook envy.

In an attempt to stimulate user growth, Snap’s chief executive, Evan Spiegel, announced that Snapchat would change its design for easier use. The app has a minimalist design that targeted teenagers, while often confusing their parents. It will soon have an adapted feed that uses algorithms to show relevant stories to users, rather than making them look through a reverse-chronological feed. Two big platforms, Facebook and Twitter, leaders of influencer marketing services, made an analogous change last year.

Snap has also changed its ad-buying practice to be more like Facebook’s, with ads that you can buy through an automated system. And it signaled last week that it wanted to increase its presence in the developing world, where Facebook is currently dominant. Also, only about 25 percent of Snapchat’s daily active users live outside North America and Europe. And Facebook is reigning with more than 65 percent of users abroad.

It’s hard to blame Snap, which is taking the Facebook route. As Facebook and Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, have been trying to copy Snapchat features for years. We are talking about Insta and Facebook stories. For instance, Instagram Stories, a near-clone of Snapchat’s most distinct feature, has reached 300 million daily active users. That is near twice as many as Snapchat.

But Snap’s revolved is more than a compulsory business move. It’s a condemnation of our existing tech landscape, and a caution sign for other start-ups hoping to take on the largest internet companies on their terms. If Facebook can still ruin a highly creative company with an app used by 178 million people, how is anyone supposed to thrive?

Snapchat’s distinctive qualities

Snap is still going strong as it remains trendy among American teenagers. Perhaps it is the most desirable marketing demographic in the world. Consumer analysis states that Snapchat has more users in the United States who are 12 to 24 years old than either Facebook or Instagram. Also, it has introduced some truly ground-breaking ideas, like the concept that not all digital communication should be permanently archived.

Still, the fact that Snap’s future is unsure should worry everyone, even if you are not using its products. That is because a world in which every flourishing internet platform must behave like Facebook is less innovative and a more boring world. It is creating conditions where there are no companies to challenge Facebook’s vision of the future digital world. It’s not a good sign that anyone, in order to survive as a competitor, must abandon the qualities that made it different in the first place.

Part of Snapchat’s innovation was in its different approach to social media marketing services, social networks, and messaging apps. Its disappearing photos stimulated sincere sharing of interesting moments with close friends, rather than showing off to a large audience of acquaintances.

Snapchat’s distinctive qualities also helped steer it clear of some problems that are now plaguing its rivals.

It appears that Snapchat, unlike Facebook, was never exploited by Russian propagandists to influence an election, and it has taken a responsible approach to preventing false information from appearing on its platform. Snapchat has not been overrun by bots and neo-Nazis, as Twitter has. And unlike Google, Snap has not harvested its users’ data in order to chase them around the internet with spammy ads for diet pills and miracle teas.

Snapchat weak points

Snapchat isn’t perfect by any means. Most of the troubles that company has have been self-inflicted. Snap has misled users about its data collection in the past, which led to a resolution with the Federal Trade Commission. It spent millions of dollars creating Spectacles, a pair of sunglasses with a built-in Snapchat camera. The news of it was everywhere, but actually, only a few people bought it.

Snapchat states that it was never supposed to be just a photo-sharing app. It was the quintessence of their worldview about how the internet should work.  They think that it should be temporary instead of permanent, candid instead of rehearsed, private instead of public. But why they started pursuing Facebook model?

Snap’s employees, many of whom come to the company because they believed that Snapchat would grow to massive size and be very popular, might bristle at any strategy that would hurt the value of their stock options. It would be very hard to say that Snapchat is going to be Facebook. They hope to be a multi-million-user social network that plays in a well carved-out niche.

Conclusion

Growth often comes at the expense of experimentation, and Snap’s decision to become more like Facebook is a worrying sign for people who care about preserving the internet’s original heterogeneity. Snapchat’s users once had something genuinely different, but it may be time for them to get more of the same.

The huge competition in the industry makes all social platforms change and shift if they want to stay relevant. Now the majority of platforms are copying Facebook, but you never know what waits for you just around the corner. Tomorrow we may see other platforms rise and take the crown