With the new ability for users to stream live video, Instagram and Facebook have both began to encroach on Snapchat’s long held territory.
The ability to share a personal video, a snapshot of a person’s experience or a window into their lives was how Snapchat revolutionized the social media world. Users were able to communicate with each other through shared sights and experiences. Instead of sending text messaged to explain what was going on, users had the ability to show their surroundings in live time. It didn’t take long for Instagram to see that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth ten million. So they decided to allow users to post photos as well as minute long videos.
Not long thereafter, Instagram once again tried to gain some footing against Snapchat by allowed users to post Instagram “Stories”. These stories are just like Snapchat stories in that users post a video or photo and it can be viewed by all followers and friends for only 24 hours before it is erased for good. Instagram users were timid at first but as time continued more and more users began to post to their stories. Even more recently, Facebook and Instagram have tried to provide their users with the same ability that Snapchat does through the option of “going live”. “Going live” means just that- you go live. As you take the video your friends and followers are watching it happen in real time. Basically, it is a facetime for you and anyone else who happens to be on the social media site at the time. “Going live” allows real time video to be seen, reacted to and responded to by thousands of Facebook and Instagram users. Although Instagram and Facebook both have messaging ability, “going live” was the first step towards allowing the social media sites to be used for real time communication. Whereas before the sites served as a history of someone’s activities through photos and statuses, “going live” provided their users with real-time, two-way, mass communication- much like Snapchat does.
So here’s what’s interesting: although Facebook and Instagram have tried their hardest to attract Snapchat users, the numbers show that Snapchat’s user database is still growing substantially. The answer, I believe, can be summed up to one word: likes. Likes are what drive almost all of social media user’s activity today. Instagram likes and Facebook likes show users what is popular, what is trending, what is cool and what is not. There are websites where users can even purchase likes in order to make their content look more popular. As much as users love “liking” and receiving “likes”, it puts much more pressure on the user to create high quality content. Snapchat, unlike Facebook and Instagram, does not have the option to “like” a video or photo. Instead, users can respond to the post through a private message that no other users can see. Even though the person who posted the content can see how many viewers it had and who the viewers were, the viewers themselves cannot see who else has seen the content. This allows for Snapchat to create a more personal communication experience. Users see content for what it is- without the opinions, “likes” or “dislikes” of other users. They get to take it as they see it and make their own judgments. Snapchat isn’t a popularity contest for likes or reactions, it’s simply a different way to communicate. Snapchats straight-forward approach to communication is why the social media site has established itself as one of the most popular apps today. It would be smart for businesses that use social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook to recognize what makes Snapchat so different. Thanks to Snapchat’s unique format, Facebook and Instagram won’t take its place anytime soon.