With the social world evolving, it’s becoming harder and harder to reach everyone on social media. Gone are the days when it was a straight battle between two, massive networks. Now, social networks are becoming increasingly segmented in terms of age and gender.
Enter Snapchat. The first social network for some time to overtake Facebook as the most popular social network among 12-24 year olds. It’s no wonder Facebook-owned Instagram wanted a piece of the action, recently introducing a Snapchat inspired ‘Story’ feature. But what is it that made Snapchat the next big thing?
By making all the content on Snapchat perishable, they’ve made the content must see. It requires a different kind of engagement than something like Twitter, as everything you’re seeing on Snapchat is temporary. Unless, what you’re snapping is so interesting that it deserves to go on your story, in which case it’s available to view for 24 hours with anything else you decide. Snapchat users crave this kind of creative freedom in order to sell their own personal story as best they possibly can, leading to a competitive culture within stories. Snapchatters are keen to show off who has the best stories, as well as one up on their friends stories.
So where does Instagram come into this? Whilst similar to Snapchat in the sense it’s a photo sharing platform, all photos on Instagram stay on there and Instagram culture differs in that the photos are often put through filters to make the photo look more professional where as Snapchat is quite the opposite, with its fun, childish (even animal) like filters and basic design tools.
How do stories fit in with Instagram then, the home of the glamour shot? It’s important to recognise that stories are in a secondary feed away from the main timeline (unless they’re shared). The moments on the story are for, perhaps, everyday moments that may not meet the traditional criteria for an Instagram post. It’s a smart way of getting users engaged with instagram, where the average number of photos shared per user has dropped.
Whilst Snapchat is still miles ahead in terms of app features, Instagram’s stripped back, simple approach may be a better option for more casual users. Avid Snapchat users will check the different filters available daily to stay ahead of the game, and will be eager to be first movers on the apps new features, which are updated regularly. Probably not something Instagram users who take pride in the aesthetical value of their photos will be too keen on.
However, Josh Constine of Tech Crunch sees a crossover for the two platforms, stating that Snapchatters won’t be able to pass up on the ‘screen real estate’ that Instagram’s stories function offers. The subtle differences between user culture may provide a new digital playground for avid Snapchatters.
There are other differences too, such as the drawing tools being slightly different. With Snapchat you have an entire spectrum of colours with a slider device, Instagram offers its colours side by side.
Is this Facebook’s attempt to stunt Snapchat’s growth, or should we be looking closer to home? Specifically, at Facebook Live? Obviously, as the biggest social network, (by some distance) Facebook should be looking to give users a reason to stay on the platform, especially as they’ve been losing their grip on millenials giving reason to cast a shadow of doubt over the future.
The Live function acts as a way of sharing video on the spot, and being able to broadcast whatever users want to show. The clever thing about Facebook Live which differentiates it from other similar platforms like Periscope is the ‘engagement graph’ which allows users who view the video to see where the broadcast had the highest engagement. This is overcoming the obstacle that many may have with live streams which is that they don’t know how long they’ll have to wait until something good happens. Facebook’s head of video, Fidji Somo noted how around two thirds of Facebook Live content that is consumed is consumed on playback, not actually live in the broadcast. This shows that there is intrigue in the platform beyond the small window of live broadcasts.
It’s interesting to see all these different platforms doing essentially the same thing, but with small nuances that can segment them to an entirely different market entirely. Instagram and Snapchat’s story functions are painfully similar (Instagram even admitted this) but the more educated social media user will see how Instagram Stories is definitely made for an older, audience, and Facebook Live could be a useful feature to engage Facebook’s dwindling younger audience. How will this segmentation continue? Will we soon start to see age gaps emerge through social media platforms? Time will tell, but until then, we’ll probably see it all unfold on Snapchat and Instagram.
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Author: James Murphy
James is a recent Business Marketing University Graduate. He’s been immersed within our agencies Digital Marketing team to work with exisiting clients and support the development of AB’s profile through social and content marketing. Look out for more blogs from James in the near future.